Much like in the NBA, the high school “off-season” can often be incredibly fun and entertaining, especially with things like transferring and reclassifying becoming more common trends. If any program in North Carolina has “won” the off-season, it would have to be Antonio Lowe and Moravian Prep.
Let’s be clear, Rome was not built in a day and neither was the new basketball Mecca that has formed out in Hickory, North Carolina. Acquiring and assembling this collection of talent has been a gradual process and one that has taken the better part of the last three years to properly do. In order to understand how far they’ve come, we must go back to what exactly they’ve done.
Going back to 2015-16, Coach Lowe was at Forest Trail Academy with Caleb Burgess and a wide assortment of prospects. The following summer, they would attract big-name guys like Joel Ntambwe (pictured; Texas Tech) for a short tenure but ultimately had to go into the season with another solid squad. It wasn’t until the next year, upon the school changing to Westridge Academy and netting one of the most physically-intriguing specimens across the country in Javarzia Belton, when the school would reach their new apex. Keep in mind, less than a handful of people even knew who Belton was at the time.
After the 2017-18 season, this group with Belton and Burgess as their diamonds in the rough set off to find a new home—which ended up being Moravian Prep. Prior to the move, many folks didn’t even realize that the school existed. Now, they are being talked about in quite a different light. Surely, in their first year, they won’t be able to compete with top North Carolina teams, much less national-level teams…right? Wrong. Coach Lowe brings in Josh Hall (pictured), who had been severely underrated and even put on the second team at Oak Hill the season prior. He joined an already-hungry group but still had something to prove individually to the world.
The rest is pretty much history. Things really began to take off for this team at our Carmel Classic Tip-Off, where they welcomed the challenge from Oak Hill and just narrowly lost down the stretch. That single game played a major part for Belton (pictured), Burgess, and Hall, as each of their respective recruitments began to ascend to a new level. Belton quickly turned into a high-major player after genuinely outplaying Kofi Cockburn at his own game, Burgess started getting a flurry of offers from a wide-variety of Division I schools, and mid-majors were trying to absolutely steal Hall as a 2019 prospect.
Those three were certainly not the only players on last year’s roster, but they were major dominoes that helped lead to something like Daniel Lobach walking-on at Rutgers. Burgess (pictured) commits to Hofstra and the first season at Moravian Prep is widely-considered a success. Coach Lowe and Coach Jeremy Ellis not only showed their ability to develop players and maximize talent, but now they’ve proven to be more than capable of getting talent to Hickory.
That last sentence rings even more true today than it did six to eight months ago, especially with their new-look roster. To their national team alone, they’ve already added Luke Davis, Darrius Davis, Blane St. Clair, Jordan Wildy, Norance Berry, Jamahri Harvey, Terrance Johnson, and now Shakeel Moore to go with Hall, Belton, and Tyriq Brown (who epitomizes what a role player should be). That being said, their regional team is also shaping up quite nicely and will also feature multiple college-level players. The post-grad team should be even better than last year, given the amount of quality players that they continue to bring in. However, those eight new additions to the national team will bring plenty of Division I coaches, as basically all of them will be recruited at that level.
Coach Lowe and Coach Ellis have started something special at Moravian Prep, but the anticipation and excitement is just beginning. This group will knock off a national-level powerhouse program this season, as it’s only a matter of time.