Who: No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) vs. No. 7 Garfield (Seattle)
When: Thurs., Mar. 29, 4 p.m.
Where: Christ The King High School (Middle Village, N.Y.)
Poll: Who will win the GEICO Nationals boys title?
About Oak Hill
The Warriors come into the tournament on a seven-game win streak, and won this tournament in 2016. As usual, it’s a barnstorming bunch – New York will be the 12th state they’ve played in this season. That includes winning the Chick-fil-A Classic National Division, in Columbia, S.C.; the Les Schwab Invitational, in Portland, Ore.; and the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions, in Springfield, Mo. The Warriors also have wins over two other teams in the GEICO Nationals field, both ranked in USA TODAY’s Super 25: No. 22 Lone Peak (Highland, Utah), and No. 2 University School (Fort Lauderdale).
With an astounding 43-1 record this season – at present the fourth-most single-season victories in the storied program’s history – it’s no wonder the Warriors nabbed one of the top seeds in this field. As typical of an Oak Hill outfit under Steve Smith, there’s potential future lottery talent brewing on the roster, starting with the three-headed backcourt monster of Oregon signee Will Richardson, French national teamer Eddy Kayouloud and McDonald’s All-American Keldon Johnson. The 6-foot-7 Kentucky-bound Johnson leads the Warriors this season in scoring (20.5 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game), and can find the net from a litany of angles, while the strong-bodied Kayouloud gets the tough rebounds and the southpaw Richardson (8.3 assists per game) seeks to pass first.
Another Johnson, the Florida-bound Keyontae Johnson, is regarded as the Warriors’ best athlete. He’s their second-leading scorer (18.1 points per game, 66 percent field goals, 106 steals), and has been a nightly highlight reel, wowing crowds with his perpetually above-the-rim finishes. Just how high-flying are the two Johnsons? They’ve accounted for nearly two-thirds of the team’s 338 dunks this season, including 126 by Keyontae.
Couple this with a true five in 6-foot-10 center David McCormack, and you have one of the most physically imposing frontcourts in the nation. Even after shedding 50 pounds from a year ago McCormack, a McDonald’s All-American and Kansas commit, still boasts the girth of an offensive lineman – and isn’t afraid to throw his weight around.
Elsewhere, speedy 5-foot-10 sophomore Evan Johnson is a three-and-D with impressive range from deep, while 6-foot-8 junior B.J. Mack (51.3 field goal percentage) can swing in and out, stretching the floor.
Brandon Roy’s first foray into high school coaching last season ended with a perfect 29-0 record, a 3A state title and a No. 1 ranking in USA TODAY’s Super 25 for Seattle’s Nathan Hale High, as well as a Naismith National Player of the Year award for superstar Michael Porter Jr. Now across town at his alma mater Garfield, taking over for his former mentor Ed Haskins, the former NBA Rookie of the Year has once again found national success with the Bulldogs, who come into the tournament fresh off a 3A state title and a No. 4 ranking in our Super 25. With a 28-1 record, the Bulldogs are now making their first ever berth in the GEICO Nationals.
As a point guard at Washington, where his number is retired, Roy earned a reputation for his high game IQ and dynamic court vision. And in just two seasons of high school coaching, he’s already transcended the Pacific Northwest, earning two state titles to go with a 57-1 record, making some wonder if he’ll make the jump to college soon.
Garfield opened the season with 22 straight wins, which included an unbeaten run at the Rancho Mirage (Calif.) Holiday Invitational. The Bulldogs also went unbeaten in the rugged Seattle Metro League, sweeping Rainier Beach and beating Portland, Ore., power Jefferson. They are averaging 77.2 points per game, while allowing only 57. Their path to the state title also included wins over another Metro power in O’Dea, as well as Sammamish’s Eastside Catholic, before taking down Rainier Beach in the final.
In music, Garfield is famous for introducing the world to pioneers Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones. In high school basketball, there is arguably no more decorated powerhouse in the Metro than Garfield, whose most recent state title – won in an overtime thriller over Metro rival Rainier Beach – was a record 11th. No other school in the state of Washington has as many such titles.
This year’s Garfield outfit features two of the top players in the highly-touted Seattle Metro League. It’s a balanced club overall, but one that’s also carried by USC-bound senior forward J’Raan Brooks and junior guard P.J. Fuller. In Brooks, who flipped his commitment from St. John’s earlier this season, the Bulldogs have a bouncy 6-foot-9 pivot whose lockdown defense is complimented with a physically imposing inside-out game on offense that can also stretch to the three-point line. Meanwhile Fuller, who followed Roy to Garfield from Hale, is one of the 2019 class’ more celebrated wing players. His high-flying arsenal of dunks, and his uptempo approach, should make him one of the more exciting players to watch at the tournament.
The Bulldogs also feature some familiar bloodlines from an all-time Seattle sports legend in Jamon Kemp, son of former Supersonics great Shawn Kemp. Meanwhile in the 3A final, point guard Pierre Crockwell Jr. orchestrated an explosive attack with Eddie Turner reaping benefits, both players leading the way with 19 points. Keep an eye on sophomore MarJon Beauchamp, as well; the 6-foot-5 athlete has interest from a slew of Division 1 schools across the West Coast, most notably Washington and Arizona.