Coach Steve Smith and his 2012-13 Oak Hill Academy Warriors are primed for another run at the mythical national championship. Coach Smith has eight national championship banners hanging up in storied Turner Gymnasium (1993, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2012). Only once has Oak Hill repeated as back-to-back national champions and many are asking if the current team can help accomplish this tremendous feat.
After an early pre-season exhibition game against a strong and powerful Massanutten Military Academy team where the Warriors had to rally for a last second three pointer by RJ Curington to tie the game. Since then, the Warriors have rolled to an impressive early season 5-0 record by outscoring their opponents by the score of 79.4 to 53.8 which is a differential of 25.6 points. While this year’s team doesn’t produce the overall firepower from the perimeter, this year’s team looks to have more athleticism. In addition, this year’s team has really good balance led by the 1-2 scoring punch of Troy Williams and RJ Curington.
Below is a write up from the top players through top 5 games
6’6 2013 WF/PF Troy Williams (Indiana): The new setting at Mouth of Wilson is exactly what the doctor ordered for Troy Williams. After having an up and down summer, Williams has flourished in Coach Steve Smith’s system. He seems more relaxed and comfortable with his high school teammates compared to his AAU teammates. That being said, look for Williams stock continue to rise to pre-AAU season rankings. Simply put, he has been spectacular early on for Oak Hill. Williams is the leading the team in scoring with 18.8PPG while averaging 23 minutes per game. He is shooting 52% (34-66) from the floor and 84% (21-25) from the free throw line, and the only negative can be his 3-point shooting each is 26% (5-19). He is the team’s third leading rebounder averaging 5.4 RPG, but leads the team in the +/- category. Williams has been excellent in transition, especially with grabbing the defensive rebound and leading the fast break. He is under-rated as a ball handler and as a passer. He is widely known for his explosive athleticism and leaping ability, but the acrobatic Williams is developing and fine tuning his all around game.
6’5 2013 WG RJ Curington (Uncommitted): Curington is one top players in his class that is still uncommitted. We appropriately nicknamed Curington last year for his ability to come off the bench and bring instant energy and points for the Warriors. Since season, Curington is the team’s second leading scorer with 16.4PPG while averaging 19.4 minutes per game. He is shooting 52.6% (30-57) from the floor and 91.7% (11-12) from the free throw line while shooting 39.3% (11-28) from the 3-point line. He is second on the team with the +/- category and will battle Williams for the team’s leading scorer throughout the year. Last year, Curington was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (percentage wise) and he went up against some strong competition in Jordan Adams and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. As we stated in previous articles, Curington’s full throttle approach is exlempfied by his 100% effort/hustle 100% of the time.
6’5 2013 WG Sindarious Thornwell (South Carolina): Thornwell’s game has been a model of consistency throughout his AAU and high school career and nothing has really changed since he stepped upon the court at Oak Hill. He is averaging 12.8 PPG while averaging 21.8 minutes per game. He is shooting 52% (19-37) from the floor and 74.2% (23-31) from the free throw line. 27% (3-11) from the 3-point line. He is third currently in the +/- category for the team and takes a balanced approach to the game. In the two games we watched, we were impressed with his defensive tenacity. He is a strong WG that competes and does all the little things that often goes unnoticed, but few players in his class has the strength, athleticism and quickness for his size/position.
6’8 2014 PF Rokas Gustys (Uncommitted): Just a junior, Gustys has a chance to make a dramatic move into the 2014 rankings. He may not be an “above the rim” player, but his footwork in the post is advanced. He has soft hands and his ability to make plays is impressive. He is averaging 8.4 PPG while averaging 16.6 minutes per game. He is shooting 45.9% (17-37) from the floor and 61.5% (8-13) from the free throw line. More importantly, he leads the team in rebounding with 8.4 RPG. He is leading the team in steals and his fourth in the +/- category for the team. While many pundits have Gustys pegged as a solid mid major prospect, Coach Smith thinks he has the potential to be recruited by high major schools. (And I tend to agree with that assessment) He has a big frame and simply knows how to rebound and those are intangibles you simply can’t teach.
6’1 2013 PG Nate Britt (North Carolina): While Britt may not have the numbers that jump out at you; one can’t begin to stress his important to the team. Britt is averaging 8.6 PPG while averaging 24.8 minutes per game. (He leads the team in minutes played) He is shooting 43.2% (16-37) from the floor and 46.2% (6-13) from the free throw line while shooting 38.5% (5-13) from the 3-point line. He leads the team in assists with 5.4 APG. While Britt is having off numbers in shooting early on, his shooting fundamentals and technique are solid. The only exception is when he has a tendency to “fall away” on his jumper. That being said, Britt is the team general and facilitator. There is no question Britt will bounce back with more efficient shooting numbers as the season progresses.
6’8 2013 Lennard Freeman (Undecided): Freeman physically mature “college ready” frame is impressive. The active and strong rebounder often sets the tone on the interior for Oak Hill. He plays hard and has good anticipation for missed shots. As we stated previously, Freeman strength and athleticism is further ahead of his skill set, but he will continue to garnish interest from mid to high major schools. Currently, Freeman is averaging 4.0 PPG and averaging 18 minutes per game. He is shooting 50% (9-18) from the floor and 40% (2-5) from the free throw line. He is the team’s second leading rebounder with 6.1 RPG. While his numbers may not jump out at you immediately, he is a true warrior on the interior and his work ethic is appealing.
6’2 2013 Ike Iroegbu (Washington State) The physically gifted athletic guard has as much bounce as any player in the country. His end-to-end speed is impressive and his ability to get to the rack seems effortless. The next step for Iroegbu is to finish on a more consistent basis. He has made progress in his decision-making but he is learning to become a much more consistent player. Once his production matches his potential, watch out! More importantly, he has a great attitude and work ethic and strides to improve and get better, and there is no question that he will believe to put it all together.