Twitter: @TES_BBasketball

Instagram: @tesmbb

 

Trinity Episcopal School (Richmond, VA)

Classification: Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division I

Conference: Virginia Prep League (VPL)

2018-19 overall record: 20-11

2018-19 season achievements: VPL tournament champions

 

 

Whenever a sports program has remained at the top for a good deal of time, surrounding others will start to take notice at some point. Anyone can achieve success in a year or two but consistency typically proves as an attention-grabber. The same saying goes for the men’s varsity basketball program at Trinity Episcopal School (TES); where they’ve sustained their mark as one of the 804’s best private school programs for years now.

I remember conducting a preseason feature on them around this time last year and acknowledged that most eyes would center on that particular 2018-19 group to see how they responded after losing two of Richmond’s best 2017-18 standouts: Jason Wade ’18 (current Old Dominion University sophomore) and Armando Bacot, Jr. ’19 (current University of North Carolina freshman). Having other veterans step up and gain contributions from newcomers, TES would go on to again finish with another 20-win season and their third consecutive conference tournament title. There was absolutely much to feel proud of. However, in talking with a few TES players during this past Steward School Summer League (Midlothian, VA), they won’t feel satisfaction until landing that coveted VISAA Division I state championship. Their last banner came in 2017.

 

 

What We Know

  • From my observations, TES had the biggest starting front court in all of Richmond last season, with 6’8” Henry Coleman ’20 and 6’11” Burke Smith ’20 on the floor. Coleman dominated all year long to post nightly averages of 26.2 ppg, 12.4 rpg, and 3.2 apg. The national four-star prospect earned fair recognition, to say the least: All-Metro Player of the Year, VPL Co-Player of the Year, and VISAA first team all-state. Duke University, Michigan, NC State, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech make up his list of final five schools. He’ll make the big decision a week from now on September 27th. After struggling with some early season injuries, Smith, a future Boise State Bronco, returned back to the floor and went on to become an All-VPL selection as a junior. With those two returning back to the lineup, TES should use their inside advantage more than anything else. I saw good potential of ‘high-low’ action between Coleman and Smith last year.

*Pictured: A younger Henry Coleman from 2016, who unanimously earned my pick as the ‘Most Unstoppable’ player in Richmond during 2018-19 (804 Superlatives Edition).

  • Only two seniors, Michael Lomax ’19 and Tyler Michael ’19, have graduated from last year’s roster. There’s a BIG returning group of 2020 guys…potentially ten. That experience would have any coaching staff smiling and it’ll rest on the veteran core’s shoulders to lead by both example and vocally. Team chemistry and leadership are two imperative areas I see for TES currently. Oh, and that should be quite a heavy senior night, by the way.
  • Last month, on August 14th, the Titans received news that one of Richmond’s top shooters would enroll into the school for his junior campaign: AJ Williams ’21. A calm guard who’s already pulled in 11 Division I offers, Williams averaged 14.5 ppg and two assists for Varina High School (Henrico, VA) last season. One can discern his shooting prowess by how he shot nearly 53% from three-point land (67-127 on attempts). He can undoubtedly bring a good knack for scoring the rock, along with solid defense, to TES.

*Pictured: Williams from Summer 2018. I’ve deemed the poised junior as a top-two shooter in the area.

  • The VPL should be anything but a cakewalk this winter. Other opponents bring back many talented prospects, including Anne’s Belfield School (Charlottesville, VA) and St. Christopher’s School (Richmond, VA). St. Anne’s Belfield played TES tightly in the conference championship this past March; I could see some great season battles happening down the road. TES will need to sharpen up on their team defense and smart offensive execution if they want to continue their success within both the VPL and state division.

 

Who to Watch

Henry Coleman ’20 – I’d honestly be surprised if anyone in the state of Virginia doesn’t already know about the senior’s dominant style of play by now. Coleman’s powerful presence and consistent production makes him Richmond’s best 2020 double-double threat; evident by those aforementioned junior season numbers and his Top-50 national ranking. He’s physically imposing, plays with a high motor, patient in finishing around the rim, and incredibly competitive. The latter may get the best of him sometimes and he’ll need to work on shot selection this year, but his impact proves second to none. It’s quite likely that the TES vet could repeat as the All-Metro Player of the Year.

 

Burke Smith ’20 – Smith enjoyed a solid summer playing for Team Richmond Garner Road Elite 17u and blew up on the recruiting radar at a greater pace than any other VPL member last year. You can’t teach his exceptional height, which also brings other skills to the floor not that typical of a traditional big man. The forward’s been recognized for his ability to shoot it from far distance but I also feel court vision stands out as one of his top skills. He’ll need to assert himself even more around the paint and on the glass as a senior; few area opponents can stop him when he really takes over.

*Pictured: Smith from Fall 2018. The big fella pulled in over 16 offers in a one-year span before giving a verbal commitment to Boise State University on September 9th.

 

Kendrick Robinson ’20 – Returning back as a second-year program member, the 6’4” Robinson has added on muscle and more confident scoring tools to his arsenal over the offseason. Last year, he played as the team’s best glue guy and displayed a bit of everything. Defense still separates him from the rest, however, and TES will likely again rely on the guard’s versatility to take on multiple positions. Selected as my 2019 Defensive MVP of Richmond (804 Superlatives Edition), I’m expecting a bigger final season from Robinson, who’s received interest from all NCAA levels. He knows the game well, plays unselfishly, and makes smart decisions that could help the team greatly in their offense.

*Pictured: Robinson from our 2019 Phenom All-American Camp; he’s attended three different exposure events in the last year.

 

Erik Prosise ’21 – Another guard who’s coming back into the mix for a second year, spectators saw several big-time moments from Prosise’s sophomore outing last season. He’s one who can heat up on the perimeter and go off for personal scoring runs in his three-point shooting. Whether on or off of the ball, he pours in buckets with a smooth release, looking like the best perimeter shooter for the Titans during 2018-19. Prosise will need to improve in the areas of offensive efficiency and defense for these next two years. If he can become more of playmaker/distributor, that could help him also, considering his 5’10” frame at the guard spot.

 

Mario Jackson ’20 – I had the chance to watch Jackson a few times this past summer on Underground Phenoms 17u in travel ball. The 6’5” forward stood out each time I saw him by appearing more comfortable as a whole in his abilities. A four-year varsity veteran, Jackson has an unteachable motor that makes him one of TES’ best defenders in the frontcourt. He’s versatile enough to guard out on the perimeter also, which usually results in him picking off steals on switches. The team can benefit from his knack of rebounding and spark-plug energy if he can continue it into the regular season. During the Titans’ participation in the 2019 Steward School Summer League, he looked like one of the most improved returning prospects. An underrated one within Richmond, for sure.

 

Luke Smith ’22 – Gearing up for his first true high school season after missing all of his freshmen year with a knee injury, Luke, the younger brother of Burke, has me eager to see how he contributes as a sophomore. He still held a varsity roster spot last season while being inactive and likely learned a lot on the sidelines. I came across Luke several times this past travel season during my coverage of the talented Team Richmond Garner Road 16u group. Playing up, the 6’7” forward had a big summer by affecting various aspects of the game. Tough rebounds, footwork, perimeter shot-making, and post moves all describe his game the best. He’s still learning the game and becoming consistent in performances but I see a stud in the making. There’s no telling how tall he can become either…possibly exceeding his older brother.

 

AJ Williams ’21 – Followers of high school hoops in Richmond likely know about the 6’0” Williams by now. He came up big for Varina as a freshmen back in 2017-18 when the Blue Devils secured the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 5 state championship, scoring 17 points in the title game. This past winter season, he repeated on the VHSL Class 5 all-state second team. In summer competition, Williams averaged 11.6 points in 15 games at the Adidas Gauntlet, knocking down 37 triples and only having a 0.7 turnover average in that span, per a recent interview that Patrick O’Brien of Phenom Hoops held with the guard. The success already attained as an underclassmen proves the 804 sharpshooter as a lethal newcomer, without question. The main test for Williams these next two years involves him displaying how well he can truly play as a combo guard. It’s necessary at his size when considering the next level.

 

Where You Can Find Them:

  • 22nd annual ‘Dale Travis Invitational Basketball Tournament,’ hosted by TES; December 6 – 7, 2019
  • Phenom Hoops’ ‘Good Guys vs Cancer’ showcase, held at First Flight High School (Kitty Hawk, NC); December 13 – 14, 2019
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch Invitational Tournament; December 20 – 23, 2019
  • 7th annual ‘Rock the Ribbon Roundball Shootout,’ hosted at Rockbridge County High School (Lexington, VA); January 10 – 11, 2020

 

Outlook

The ample amount of experience and eye-popping talent makes this potential TES team a bunch that frequently pops up in discussion. However, utilizing their weapons to full strength will dictate just how far the Titans can go in their quest to the highest mark of the VISAA. Personally, I feel they must use their size before anything else. I can’t think of many other teams around the region who equally match up in that aspect. The duo of Coleman and Smith can become something serious if they do what they do best. TES’ guards must recognize mismatches and keep the offense flowing at all times. Everything went a lot better for the team last season when they didn’t play stagnant. If everyone brings their A game and stays disciplined throughout the lengthy season, there’s no telling where the chips may fall.

 

 

 

Oh, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the student body of TES has up their sleeves again in the stands. One of the best high school student sections I’ve ever come across.