The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

February 1, 2012

Oak Hill Academy boasts plenty of talent

Warriors take on Arlington Country Day in Big Atlantic Classic tonight

Once again, Oak Hill Academy will stroll into the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center for a Big Atlantic Classic contest with its national power reputation intact.

The Warriors come to Beckley undefeated and ranked No. 1 by both ESPN and USA Today.

Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) will take on a challenge from Powerade Fab 50/ESPNHS.com’s No. 40-ranked Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) in a national game scheduled for 7:20 p.m. tonight.

“We always enjoy our games in Beckley,” said Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith. “It’s a big game this year. They’re very good and well-coached. We both like to get up and down the floor. It will be an interesting matchup.

“There will be a lot of talent and athleticism on the floor. It will be a quality high school basketball game that the fans should enjoy.”

Oak Hill Academy is famous for producing top-notch talent, including alums such as Jerry Stackhouse, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo and Doron Lamb.

It’s another star-studded roster this year for the Warriors (32-0), with seven Division I recruits on board, including 6-5 guard/forward Jordan Adams (UCLA), 5-11 guard Tyler Lewis (N.C. State), 6-3 guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown), 6-6 guard/forward Damien Wilson (Memphis), 7-foot center A.J. Hammons (Purdue), 6-6 forward Darion Clark (UNC-Charlotte) and 6-5 guard/forward Jordan Tebbutt (undeclared).

“The fans in Beckley seem to enjoy good basketball,” said Smith. “We’ll try to get our guys up and hopefully play well.”

Smith has coached 26 McDonald’s All-Americans and 21 players who have gone on to the NBA.

The four-time national coach of the year has more than 800 wins in 27 seasons at Oak Hill Academy.

Oak Hill Academy came away with two challenging victories at the Penny Hardaway Hoopfest in Memphis Jan. 20-21.

The Warriors had two easier contests last weekend — a 91-64 victory over Blue Ridge School (Va.) Friday and an 86-54 home romp over Imani Christian (Pa.) on Saturday.

Oak Hill Academy has a long history of an annual trek to Beckley for basketball games, dating back to 1999. Last year the then-No. 9 Warriors suffered their first defeat in the Convention Center, a 70-62 double-overtime thriller to then No. 5 Montrose Christian of Rockville, Md.

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Arlington Country Day (11-3) is making its first trip to the Big Atlantic Classic.

“We’ve heard great things about it,” said head coach Rex Morgan. “We’ve heard that it’s a very well run tournament. We saw film from a game there last year, and it looked like there are a lot of basketball fans there, and they’re very supportive.”

Facing the top-ranked team in the nation is a challenge, Morgan assured.

“Year in and year out, they’re always going to be one of the best teams in the country,” Morgan said of Oak Hill Academy. “This team may be one of their best — from a turnover standpoint.”

Last year, Morgan’s squad fell to Oak Hill Academy, 103-76 at the Presidential Hoopfest in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Former ACD point guard Gary Browne, now a freshman at West Virginia University, was unable to play due to an ankle injury in that contest.

“Gary had hurt his ankle two days before that game,” Morgan explained. “We started him, but had to pull him right back out within the first minute. Without him, we committed 15 turnovers in the first half alone.”

Arlington Country Day was ranked No. 1 in the ESPNHS.com Southeast Region Top 20 just three weeks ago and got as high as No. 7 in the USA Today high school rankings. But the Apaches lost two games to teams that use fifth-year players, thus not eligible for high school rankings. Nevertheless, the losses dropped the team 23 spots in the national poll.

Injuries haven’t helped either.

“The injury bug has kind of bit us,” Morgan said. “Four of our eight top players from the beginning of the season aren’t playing, either due to injury or leaving the program.”

Torian Graham, once a North Carolina State recruit, left the Arlington Country Day program two weeks ago.

Morgan will bring a veteran team led by Carlos Morris and Ian Baker (both verbals, then withdrawals, to South Carolina) and Jordan Goodman, who withdrew a verbal to Texas Tech.

“They’re three senior starters and they’re all open (to recruiters),” Morgan said.

Junior Etou (6-foot-8, 225 pounds) is a highly regarded junior power forward. But a recent injury may sideline him tonight.

“WVU is recruiting him,” Morgan said. “He tore ligaments in his ankle at a tournament (Mountaineer Showcase) in Morgantown a couple of weeks ago. He’s making the trip, but he’ll be doubtful.”

— E-mail: jworkman@register-herald.com

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