Henrico High School (Henrico, VA)

Classification: Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 5, Region B

2018-19 overall record: 18-5

Whenever a new season emerges for any sport, there’s always a case of predictions that happen from any and everywhere. Honestly, it’s become such a natural act nowadays that we, as fans and/or athletes, wouldn’t even know how to react if those same lines of reasoning didn’t occur. For example, the 2019-20 NBA regular season officially got underway earlier this week (10/22) and I’m already seeing a plethora of folks make predictions of who will win the league championship, respective conferences, end-of-season awards, etc. In other news, preseason polls for college basketball already have or currently are releasing, so that should spark up similar conversations in the meantime.

For me, as a scout at the high school basketball level, I hold that view that there’s only so much one can foresee prior to the lengthy winter season. Still, following my first full year of covering hoops mainly in the Richmond, VA region and now currently conducting this ‘preseason open gym tour,’ it’s helped give a good estimate of what can potentially unfold beginning next month. The VHSL Class 5 division, which mainly contains Richmond public schools, produces some of the toughest competition yearly but I’m already perceiving the Henrico Warriors as a promising group for 2019-20. They held a high status in Virginia a few years ago after winning two state titles in three years (2013, 2015).

What We Know

  • Posting a strong overall record of 18-5 last season, I must say I enjoyed the breakneck tempo of Henrico’s offense the most. It’s always enjoyable to watch a roster of mainly perimeter guys who dare opposing teams to stop them from pushing the ball. For the majority of the time, Henrico succeeded in that tactic on a nightly basis. Collective traits of speed and hang time in the air made them a tough bunch to keep out of the lane for contact finishes, floaters, and other crafty lay-ins. Defensively, they looked just as good; being able to switch well on ball screens and cut off slashing attempts. That two-way style led to a 13-1 start from the Warriors but they would ultimately suffer a season-ending loss after Douglas Freeman High School (Henrico, VA) beat them 64-60 in an overtime Region 5B quarterfinal contest.
  • Fast forward to today, and one could say Henrico did indeed lose a strong number of 2019 seniors from last year. Six members graduated, including the tallest player and only true post man, 6’6” DeShawn Price ’19 (7.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg). In addition, standout two-guard Jaden House ’20 (15.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.3 apg) made a transfer move to Middleburg Academy (Middleburg, VA) back in June. Regardless of who’s departed, the reason I still see Henrico doing very well this year is based on the veterans’ capabilities and some possible newcomers who look ready to step up. The Warriors could benefit from a mix of these same prospects, ranging in different ages, if they land a roster spot for their first outing in the school’s varsity program.
  • Henrico caught my Phenom Hoops co-worker, Frank Bennet, and I’s attention to a great extent when they recently participated in and hosted the 2019 ‘ASSIST East Coast High School Team Camp’ (8/24). If any team made a statement on that particular day, my pick went to them. Even while missing a few guys, they came up just short of a perfect record for the day, ending 2-1, and filled the gym with excitement by showcasing their energetic style. Likewise to last season, Henrico continued to prove that “speed kills” in their transition game. The same story continued in their defensive prowess also and I remember being impressed by how greatly their perimeter players went after defensive rebounds. Afterwards, following some other glimpses at Class 5 teams, that’s when I began to truly develop thoughts of Henrico emerging as a state title contender.
  • No stranger to morning workouts, Henrico’s been an ‘early bird’ group for their daily workouts this preseason. They often go for about an hour or more before 9 a.m. classes start (a different type of school schedule functions in the county). During my visit on Wednesday morning, I noticed Henrico’s main objective temporarily focuses on getting the new guys acclimated to their team pace. After using shooting drills to begin the session, a 3-man and 5-man weave took place, followed by continuous execution in different scenarios. Obviously, it’ll require time before everyone becomes naturally comfortable working together but the few returners will have an imperative responsibility as the main leaders.

Who to Watch

* Obviously, with weeks left until tryouts, the roster remains unofficial. Still, several guys stood out during my visit, whom all I feel can make notable contributions if they fill a roster spot.

Jahme Ested ’20 – Acknowledged as one of the 804’s top guards last season, Ested holds the keys as the initiator of Henrico’s game plan. Strong, quick, and smooth with his finishes, the 6’1” vet filled up the stat sheet in 2018-19 with season averages of 18 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.7 apg, and 1.3 spg. It’s a pain trying to stay in front of him while he handles the rock, as he gets to his spots with ease and can also move around to lose defenders when off of the ball. Playing for Team Richmond Garner Road 17u this summer, I felt Ested’s jumper improved tremendously and it especially looked good during that ‘ASSIST East Coast Team Camp.’ If he can sustain this type of play for the entire winter, we’re looking at the most complete version of a guy who’s still fairly underrated, in my eyes. Virginia Union University offered last month (9/11) and I could see college coaches from all three NCAA levels landing a steal if they take a chance on him. One of Richmond’s best available at that lead guard position, who earned VHSL Class 5 all-state second team and All-Metro third team honors last season.

Jeremiah Langley ’20 – The 6’3” Langley brings additional value back for his senior campaign, as he contains solid height, lengthy arms, and a scoring feel on the perimeter. Last year, he played highly active around the rim; making all sorts of second-chance plays and tipping in put-backs off of misses. If he’s ever not shooting the ball, one can note the cleverness of his strategy in finding a way to become easy to lose on box-outs, which frequently leads to those same offensive tip-ins. When Langely does have the ball, however, the lefty wing can shoot from midrange spots either off of the catch or pull-ups and also make long strides in his rim drives. Defensively, I’m assuming he’s taken notes from LeBron James in how well he performs the trademark chase-down block. After averaging 8.3 ppg and 4.8 rpg as a junior, I’m expecting an even bigger role to happen for the three-year varsity letterman quite soon.

James Wallace III ’20 – Physically, Wallace III has always been athletic but keeps looking stronger each time I see him, along with having added an inch of height (6’4”). The senior’s newly enrolled into Henrico for his final go-around and should fit into their style immediately. Wallace III honestly already displayed comfort when he stood out in his debut with the Warriors in the ‘ASSIST East Coast Team Camp’; he plucked away steals, completed plays in transition, made shots from distance, and threw down several nice dunks. His agility makes him a handful to stop once he rises in the air…I saw him connect on many difficult finishes last season. There’s also an intangible in Wallace’s game that doesn’t always happen from guys with talent: hustling on the floor for 50/50 balls. Combining that with his defense goes to show how much of an impact he can create. A member of my personal 2019 ‘804 All-Defense’ second team from this past season, I still feel the wing deserves more recognition on the recruiting radar.

Zy’Ever Wingfield ’20 – My ‘Unsung Hero-themed’ article centered on Wingfield last month (9/5) described his abilities and situation most thoroughly but audiences likely already knew of his never-ending motor beforehand. The 6’3.5” guard has hops for days and a lively energy that transitions to plays made constantly from pure will. He’s one of those players who doesn’t really have a ‘best skill’ but rather produces well in various categories: finishing, rebounding, defending, and making proper decisions. Wingfield’s been one of the area’s best spark plugs I’ve seen dating back to last December; he can change the entire course of a game by using energy and competitive fire to outplay the opposition. One-dribble pull-up jumpers look more of a go-to in his offensive package, while he also gets it done in the open floor with ease. Different NCAA coaches have reached out to express interest in the senior, who played his final season travel ball alongside Ested and Wallace on Team Richmond Garner Road 17u.

Where You Can Find Them

  • Ralph Crockett Holiday Classic,’ hosted by J.R. Tucker High School (Henrico, VA); December 19 – 20, 2019
  • Above the Rim Classic,’ hosted at Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center (Richmond, VA); December 21, 2019
  • Hosted 17th annual ‘Henrico Holiday Hoops Tournament’; December 26 – 28, 2019
  • 12th annual ‘VirginiaPreps Basketball Classic,’ hosted at Green Run High School (Virginia Beach, VA) ; January 11, 2020

A Word from the Head Honcho

“At the end of the day, we want to be playing our best basketball towards the end of the season, which would be mid-late February, hopefully into March. If we execute, understand what we’re trying to do and how to do it, and keep getting better each game, the results will take care of themselves. We don’t really look to win a specific achievement at the end of the season. Our typical goal is: if we’re playing our best basketball at the end of the year, things will take care of themselves and we’ll get what we’re supposed to get.”

  • Head coach Vance Harmon (17th season)

Outlook

It’s uncertain how their bench depth will result but Henrico’s senior returners and possible newcomers are very, very good. Ested’s a proven stud, Langley stands out on both sides of the ball, and Wallace III and Wingfield can play as significant pieces after standing out for their other respective teams last year. The team’s game plan of making other opponents uncomfortable needs to persist into this year and greater perimeter shooting could make them a bigger threat too. In terms of being able to keep up with them or neutralize their speed, I don’t see many teams winning in those areas for a full 32 minutes. Acknowledging that leads to me saying I won’t be surprised to see Henrico pull off a feat similar to their past years of making deep runs in the state tournament. It’s still early and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I nonetheless like what I’m seeing.

Pack up your weapons, the Warriors will be waiting in the trenches…