With junior guard Andre Bottoms leading the way, the Oscar Smith Tigers keep piling up wins!
Oscar Smith Tigers are 43-9 the last two seasons with Andre Bottoms as their starting point guard. An impressive record given the fact he’s done that with several roster changes each of the last two seasons as a result of graduation and the loss each year of the teams’ “go to” player. The highly regarded point guard will face the same task in 2018-2019 as the Tigers return only two other starters from last season’s 19-6 team that lost a heartbreaker at the buzzer in the Class 6, Region A semi final.
The 6’1 junior guard is one of the 757’s most highly recruited talents with offers from Division I Hampton University and Norfolk State University. He also has strong interest from Liberty, George Washington, Longwood, Elon, George Mason, ECU, Radford, and William and Mary. Bottoms is a strong and shifty floor general who can get to the basket seemingly at will when needed. He is a crafty finisher in traffic and around the rim while also an alert and skilled passer who can collapse a defense and find the open man. A combination of upper body strength, solid footwork, a creative handle and playmaking skills have allowed Andre to mix in scoring and assists at a high rate and allows him to get the ball to his scorers where they can be productive.
Andre is joined in the backcourt by a host of proven and talented playmakers including 6’1 2019 two sport standout BriQuan Harrell. BriQuan who also plays multiple positions on Oscar Smith’s State powerhouse football team is another physical playmaker who can take over ball handling duties when called upon and impact the game in that role as well. A powerful, downhill guard BriQuan can score attacking the rim while also a threat from beyond the arc and does a great job off the ball getting open. 5’11 junior guard Torrey Jordan is a quick playmaker; also another guard who has played the lead guard role at the high school level and can get to the rim, hit the middle jumper and also handle the ball and create offense with the dribble for himself and for teammates.
The Tigers got a big boost with the transfer from Hickory High School of 6’0 senior guard Kai Lockhart, one of the area’s top playmakers and leading returning scorers at over 15.5ppg! Kai is one of the better shooters in the area and has range out to the volleyball line so you really have to extend defensively to meet the threat he provides. He does a great job attacking hard closeouts with 1 and 2 dribble pull-ups and he can find the open cutter while on the drive. He’s a silky smooth offensive player with a great stroke and shot consistency off the dribble and playing off the ball as well. Kai is also one of the better defenders in the area at over 3 steals per game. He has great anticipation and quickness in the passing lanes and can impact a game on either side of the floor.
A big key for the Tigers will be the play inside from 6’5 junior forward Karl Chavis. Chavis is a terrific athlete who uses his long wingspan and powerful repeat jumping ability to play bigger than 6’5 inside giving the Tigers a solid rebounding and shot blocking presence. On the offensive end he provides plenty of variety as both a basket attacking wing who can get to the basket off the drive and also pull up and knock down shots off the dribble. Karl has with a very good jumper in the mid range and can also score with a strong drop step move with his back to the basket. His versatility on both ends, his skill level and his athleticism make him a matchup concern and he could hold the key to their eventual success. He’s a college prospect for sure and should have a breakout year.
Alongside Chavis is another active and athletic forward who provides inside/outside versatility in 6’4 junior forward Desmond Graham. Graham is another player who provides versatility as he can knock down shots off the catch and shoot, make a move and get to the basket off the bounce and also is active and bouncy around the rim with very good finishing skills. He really competes and plays taller than 6’4. Freshman guard Kenyon Giles will make an immediate impact! Kenyon can hit the jumper with three point range and has a quick release. He’s very good hitting the jumper off the dribble or finishing with the floater against taller defenders in the lane.
Kenyon can change directions at the drop of a dime and uses explosive starts and stops making him difficult to stay in front of. He’s going to be a special talent down the road and can impact a game right now as a freshman! This guard heavy group can really spread you out and they have the quickness and skilled playmakers to exploit you and guys like Chavis and Graham inside should really flourish utilizing their quickness, length and athleticism in space against opposing bigs.
The Tigers have an exciting two seasons ahead for this junior laden roster but have the personnel to punch another regional playoff ticket and perhaps get to the state round this season. Long known as a football powerhouse, Oscar Smith has become a basketball powerhouse under Head Coach Lavar Griffin who took the Tigers to the 2016 state title game. Coach Griffin is a former Oscar Smith star who went on to a stellar college career at Virginia State University where he remains among the schools all time scoring and three point shooting leaders. He has developed a number of players who have gone on to play at the collegiate level including some at the Division I level. He has a few more on this current roster who should also have that opportunity when their work at “The Dollar Dome” is done. Look for Oscar Smith to be right back in the mix this season!