Coming into the 2011-12 season, Coach Steve Smith and Oak Hill had won the mythical national championship seven times (1993, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, and 2007). In addition, Oak Hill has been runners-up six times (1990, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2009) and in 2009, the Warriors were 40-0 before losing the final game of the season. Ironically, Coach Smith and Oak Hill captured the most wins in school history with 40 wins in 2006 and 2009 but failed to win the national championship. Overall, Coach Smith had an impressive 816-53 record for a winning percentage of 94% as Oak Hill continues to play one of the toughest schedules year in and year out. During this time frame, Coach Smith had recorded three 40 win seasons and was named the National High School Coach of the Year by USA Today in 1994, 1999, and 2004 and just recently was named the Naismith Coach of the Year for the 2011-12 season making it the second time he has received this prestigious honor and is the only coach to win the award twice. And like any great head coach, he is surrounded by a high quality staff of assistant coaches such as Coach Bryan Meagher, Coach Wilbur Allen, and Coach Taylor Conn. Coach Meagher is in his ninth year as an assistant coach while Coach Allen and Coach Conn are in their fourth season with the Warriors. In addition, Coach Allen is a 2001 Oak Hill graduate and was a member of the Oak Hill national runner-up team in 2000 as well as the National Championship team of 2001.
In our October 9th issue of the Phenom Hoop Report, we wrote the following: Last season, Oak Hill finished 29-4 and Coach Smith stated “that is totally unacceptable at Mouth of Wilson.” Coming into the 2011-12 season, the roster was solid but was missing some of the marquee names that had won the Warrior uniform. There was no Brandon Jennings, Carmelo Anthony, Doron Lamb, Jerry Stackhouse, Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo, Tywon Lawson, Kevin Durant, Rod Strickland, or Ron Mercer. We even stated, “They may not have any players that will make the McDonald’s All American team such as Quinn Cook of last year’s team and current member of Duke University.” That being said, there seemed to be a “quiet optimism” on the “Hill” concerning this year’s 2011-12 team. Many scouting gurus stated this year’s team had more depth and quality than the prior year, but the idea of Oak Hill going undefeated wasn’t in the conversation early on especially with the difficult schedule Coach Smith had put together. While the backcourt was especially strong, very few thought this year’s team had the high elite level player on the roster to separate themselves from other nationally ranked teams in the country.
In this year’s Oak Hill Warriors media guide, the theme for the upcoming season was “Win as One” and they did exactly that! Aristotle once stated “the sum is greater than the individual parts” and this phrase could not have been more fitting than this year’s team. Going into the season, Oak Hill didn’t even have a “lock” player for the prestigious McDonald All American team. However, as the season progressed, the Warriors had three strong candidates in 6’5 Jordan Adams, 6’3 D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and 5’11 Tyler Lewis. Lewis was recently named to the McDonald All American team and became the 28th Warrior to be worthy of this honor. (And in our opinion, both Adams and Smith-Rivera equally deserved) That being said, no statement captured this year’s team better than Coach Steve Smith quote in the current media guide that stated “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships” and this philosophy could not be more fitting. Even current board member Marshall Frank wrote the following, “I have followed Steve Smith and his Oak Hill Warriors for many years first as a fan, second as a parent and now as a member of the Board of Trustees. I’m not an expert, but I do study people very closely and have a simple observation about the 2011-12 Oak Hill Team. My primary observation about this team is that it has the best team chemistry of any Oak Hill team observed over the past 15-20 years. These kids “have each other’s backs” and revel in seeing their teammates succeed. No wonder they have set a winning record.”
While many people think it is easy coaching a high profile team with talented players across the country, one of the most difficult jobs as a coach is to get players to “buy into the system” and make sacrifices for the sake of the team. This year’s team had an influx of new players and all of them “was the man” on their perspective high school team. While Oak Hill returned Jordan Adams, Damien Wilson, AJ Hammons, RJ Curington and Victor Ieronymides, Coach Smith brought in players like D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Tyler Lewis, Jordan Tebutt, Montarius Hall, Ike Iroegbu and Darion Clark. You had a team of players from five different states and one foreign country. (Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia, California, Oregon and Cyprus).
Month of October
On the back of the Oak Hill 2011-12 media guide, the quote by former UCLA John Wooden stated “It’s amazing what can be accomplishedwhen no one cares who gets the credit” and his philosophy and mindset by the Oak Hill team enabled them to a perfect 44-0 and become the winnginest team in Oak Hill history and it all started in the preparation leading up to the month of October. Oak Hill open up the pre-season with scrimmage games against Fork Union Military Academy, Massanuttan Military and an early regular season game against Covenant Christian of Atlanta, Georgia. While Oak Hill cruised to wins over the FUMA, Massanuttan and Covenant Christian, the game that meant more to Coach Steve Smith, staff and players was the October 25th scrimmage against a loaded Hargrave Military Academy in Roanoke, Virginia. A year ago Hargrave dismantled Oak Hill and that devastating loss set the tone for a disappointing 29-4 record. However, this year would be different and the mindset of the players and the preparation of the coaching staff would set the tone for the perfect season. The Oak Hill vs. Hargrave Military Academy was a marquee game with plenty of talent on both sides. The teams would play two 20 minute halves and an extra period of a 12 minute running clock. The halftime score was Oak Hill 49 and Hargrave 44. The second half was a mirror image of the first half in terms of the score as Oak Hill outscored Hargrave 47-42 and won the scrimmage by the score of 96-86. (The final extra period of a 12 minute running clock ending up in a16-16 tie) Without question, the implications of this game was more than just a scrimmage as both teams played with intensity and passion as if the game was for the national championship. What’s more impressive is Hargrave Military has also gone undefeated this season. For Oak Hill, it was the beginning of something special!
Month of November
Oak Hill then travelled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to play against a talented Quality Education Academy. Last season, QEA led Oak Hill by 18 before the Warriors rallied back to win by one. The game was being played at Lawrence Joel Veteran Memorial Coliseum (home of the Wake Forest University) Oak Hill won in an impressive fashion by the score of 84-69. Leading the way for the Warriors were Jordan Adams with 23, Tyler Lewis with 19 points and 14 assists, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera with 18 points and AJ Hammons with 6 points, 9 rebounds and 9 block shots. Oak Hill moved to 2-0 on the season (not counting scrimmage wins over FUMA, Massanuttan Military and Hargrave Military) Oak Hill finished off the month of November with an 11-0 record before heading off to play in the 16th Annual Marshall County Hoopfest in Benton, Kentucky.
Month of December
This would be a big test for the Warriors as they would play back to back games against Hales Franciscan of Chicago, Illinois and then nationally ranked LaLumiere HS of Indiana. On Friday night, December 2nd, Oak Hill dismantles Hales Franciscan by the score of 108-66. Oak Hill broke open the game in the second quarter and went on to a 108-66 victory. 6’3 senior SG D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the team in scoring with 22 points. Jordan Adams chipped in 19 points. 7’0 center AJ Hammons continued his stellar play this season by having a monster all around game. He finished with 12 points and grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 7 shots. Tyler Lewis enjoyed another double-double as he finished with 12 points and dished out 10 assists. While Oak Hill was winning in a convincing factor, LaLumiere enjoyed the night off and was sitting courtside with the luxury of scouting their opponent the following night. That being said, Oak Hill came out focused and came away with an impressive 77-59 victory. Oak Hill was led by D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera as he tallied 26 points while Jordan Adams chipped in 20 points. AJ Hammons finished with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 5 block shots while 5’11 PG Tyler Lewis tallied 13 points.
The next big challenge for Oak Hill was the marquee matchup at the 5th Annual Team Takeover High School Hoops Festival at the famed DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland. This early season game was between nationally ranked power house teams in Oak Hill Academy and Grace Prep Academy. Grace Prep featured 7’0 Isaiah Austin who is considered one of the top players in the country. Oak Hill entered the game with a 14-0 record while Grace Prep was undefeated with a 7-0 record. While Oak Hill came into the contest as the higher ranked team, the general consensus among many of the scouting services in attendance was Grace Prep had more individual talent and was clearly the more athletic of the two teams. While Oak Hill came away with a hard fought 68-59 victory, there were plenty of story lines associated with this game. PG Tyler Lewis led Oak Hill in scoring with 23 points, but also dished out 5 assists and grabbed 5 rebounds. Jordan Adams finished with 19 points along with 8 rebounds while D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera chipped in 15 points. 7’0 Center AJ Hammons tallied 9 points but finished with 10 rebounds. Oak Hill moved to 15-0 and the next big challenge for the Warriors was against nationally ranked Millers Grove of Atlanta, Georgia. This game was being played at Morehouse College and was nationally televised on ESPN. Oak Hill hung on for the 82-79 win and was led in scoring by D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera with 20 points while Tyler Lewis chipped in 18 points and dished out 8 assists. Jordan Adams tallied 13 points while Montarius Hall came off the bench for 10 points. Oak Hill then moved to 17-0 and still had eight games remaining on their demanding December schedule.
The next challenge for Oak Hill was the Chick-Fil-A Tournament that was held in Columbia, South Carolina. Oak Hill entered the tournament with an 18-0 record and opened up against a solid West Town team from West Town, PA. Oak Hill was clicking on all cylinders and won going away by the score of 93-43. The next night, Oak Hill faced a scrappy and home town favorite and defending South Carolina 2A State Champions W.J. Keenan. Oak Hill survived a scare as they preserved a 68-67 victory. Leading the way for Oak Hill was Tyler Lewis with 18 points and 7 assists while backcourt mate D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera chipped in 14 points. In addition, Jordan Adams tallied 14 points. AJ Hammons did not play in this game and his inside presence was solely missed. Without question, Oak Hill dodged a major bullet in this game.. Oak Hill moved to 20-0 and faced another nationally ranked team in Paul VI for the tournament championship. This time around, the Warriors played to their potential and won in an impressive fashion by the score of 76-55. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way with 17 points, Darion Clark chipped in 16 points while Jordan Adams finished with 12 points. Tyler Lewis scored 6 points but broke the single game assist record at the tournament with a game high 15 assists. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was named Tournament MVP. Oak Hill moved to 21-0 and had a few days off before heading out to Portland, Oregon to play in the Les Schwab Invitational. Oak Hill steamrolled in their first three games before playing yet another nationally ranked team in Jesuit of Portland, Oregon. Oak Hill played well enough to win and came away with a 57-50 victory. In the championship game, D’Vauntes Smith came up big with 23 points while backcourt mate Tyler Lewis chipped in 10 points and his play in the three previous games were enough to earn him Tournament MVP. After a brutal 15 game December schedule, Oak Hill finished the 2011 calendar year with a 25-0 record. The team headed home for a well deserved 10 day break.
Month of January
The team returned back to school and had a game against Christian Faith Academy. Oak Hill won easily by the score of 87-57 and was gearing for its next marquee game against another nationally ranked team in Prestonwood High School of Texas led by 6’9 Julius Randle and 6’10 Zach Peters. Like previous games against nationally ranked competition, the Warriors were clicking on all cylinders by winning in a convincing matter. Oak Hill won easily by the score of 85-55 and the buzz surrounding this year’s team was growing. Jordan Adams led the team in scoring with 23 points while D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera chipped in 16 points. In addition, Tyler Lewis enjoyed another double-double by scoring 15 points and dishing out 10 assists. Oak Hill then moved to 27-0 and went on to finish out the month of January with an impressive 32-0 record.
Month of February
The next challenge on the Oak Hill schedule was against Arlington Country Day and after a tight first half, the Warriors turned up the defensive intensity in the second half for a 77-52 victory. The backcourt trio of Smith-Rivera, Adams and Lewis led the way once again as they tallied 55 of the 77 points scored. The Warriors then played on back to back nights but the game that decided the fate for the balance of the season was against Christ School when Oak Hill won in overtime by the score of 71-63. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had a monster game as he tallied 37 points while Jordan Adams contributed 14 points while Tyler Lewis chipped in 8 points while battling a stomach virus. The Warriors showed tremendous resiliency and moved to 35-0 for the season and the once “quiet optimism” back in October was starting to grow. It was no longer a “quiet optimism” but one of anticipation and excitement. With nine games remaining, the staff and players all knew they had a chance and opportunity to do something special. One roadblock was a road trip to Red Springs, NC to face a dangerous Flora McDonald team that eventually went on to win the NCISAA State Championship in their classification. The Warriors entered the contest with a 40-0 record with a possibility of breaking the single season win record. That being said, Oak Hill came ready to play and won going away by the score of 73-51 as Jordan Adams and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera both scored 24 points while Tyler Lewis chipped in 12 points and 10. With this win, the 2011-12 Oak Hill Warriors became the winningest team in school history with three more home games. Oak Hill went on to win in convincing fashion as they etched their names in the history books at the storied high school program.
Win as One
The team that started the season with no marquee names came together to “Win as One.” The hard work and dedication by the players and coaches all started from day one when the team arrived on campus in late August. Coach Smith often stated he really liked the work ethic and togetherness this year’s team exhibited. The togetherness carried throughout the season and Coach Smith’s quote “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships” will be the torch for the 2011-12 Oak Hill Warriors team. Coach Smith won lost record now stands at 860-53. Earlier in the season Coach Smith stated “he really liked this team and hoped he would still like them comeFebruary.” Well, February has come and gone and my guess is he likes this team even better.
Head Coach Steve Smith
Assistant Coach Bryan Meagher
Assistant Coach Wilbur Allen
Assistant Coach Taylor Conn