Twitter: @HHSHoops18

 

Hopewell High School (Hopewell, VA)

Classification: Class 3, Region A

2017-18 Record: 22-4

 

 

'Goal-Oriented Drills

The focus of Hopewell's workout stood out as soon as ten of the Blue Devils took the floor. No wasted time could be afforded, as they only had an hour and fifteen minutes of court time before the girls' team took over. Hopewell's workout didn't function like a regular preseason session; the structure of it reminded me of how teams practice once the regular season arrives. Some teams might use these early months to get in the gym and just shoot/play full-court. Nonetheless, early on in the workout, head coach Elvin Edmonds III put his players through drills that relied on complete focus and efficiency. I really liked the 3-man weave task that required twenty straight finishes in two minutes. Any misses at the rim would result in the count being brought back down to zero. If the players didn't accomplish the goal, they'd have to go right into it again. Great strategic drill.

 

Instruction

With none of his assistants around, Edmonds stood as the only instructor during the open gym. After witnessing his professional manner, I see why the Blue Devils had such great success last season. Edmonds does a great job in holding his players accountable by teaching them right vs. wrong constantly. Even if a player may do something in a way that seems correct, Edmonds has the knowledge to teach him how to perform it even better. He doesn't let his players goof off or play lackadaisically. I wouldn't go as far to call Edmonds a disciplinarian or perfectionist, but he nevertheless gets the best out of his players by pushing them to exceed their potential and has garnered their respect. It's quite easy to note.

 

Defense, Defense, Defense

One of the reasons why I mentioned earlier how Hopewell's open gym differed than most involved the team's heavy emphasis on fighting against defensive pressure. Most programs would probably wait until season time to start focusing on that side of the ball. The team did not practice breaking a 5v5 full-court press but did indeed have to work on ball advancement against traps by two defenders. I thought Edmonds did a smart tactic of progressing the drills from 2v2 to 3v3 traps that transitioned into half-court competition. The defensive challenges took up a large part of the workout. Hopewell recognizes ball security as an important component to success and should be more than prepared when faced against pressuring teams this winter. Their collective athleticism and IQ should make them a defensive threat as well.

 

Who to Look Out For:

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LaMonta Ellis '21: The young guard had the best day out of his peers during my visit. Ellis possesses a variety of skills and intangibles that makes him a highly important piece to the Blue Devils' success this upcoming season and in the future. Standing at 6'3' He plays some of the best defense on the team and can use his size to defend both guards and wings. He didn't have a big scoring role last season as a freshman but has shown great improvement in looking for his shot and getting to the rim. When the players starting playing 5v5 to conclude the workout, Ellis scored some of the most points on his team. One can see that he's starting to develop that offensive mindset to go along with his renowned defense. It shouldn't take long before Ellis starts to blow up on the recruiting radar. He already holds offers from Drake University, Canisius College, and Virginia Union.

Elvin Edmonds IV '21: Another young face on the Hopewell roster, Edmonds IV returns as the team's leading scorer after averaging 18.3 PPG last season as a freshman. He also added four rebounds, three assists, and 1.3 steals per game on a nightly basis. Since the conclusion of his freshmen season, the 6'2' guard has noticeably put on a good amount of muscle. He has the frame of a college guard already to go along with his advanced skillset. Edmonds IV put the Hopewell community on notice last year for his remarkable shooting ability and is primed to show that deadly facet of his game once again. Living as a gym rat, he'll continue to keep taking his game to new heights and develop as a leader. One of the top 2021 prospects in VA, he has collected offers from VCU, Old Dominion, Hampton, Winthrop, and James Madison.

Izeah Parker '19: One of the senior veterans on the team, Parker showed some great leadership during Hopewell's workout in being one of the most vocal players on the court. In addition, he displayed his athleticism nicely by running the court in strides, throwing down dunks, and snagging rebounds. In watching Parker, I could tell his comfort level playing on the perimeter has grown. Over the years, he's been known as an athletic finisher in the paint but now shows capabilities of hunting down perimeter shots and finding teammates on the wing for open looks. He also caught my attention with an effective fade-away shot. At his 6'7' height, this move could serve as an un-guardable go-to. The Coppin State commit appears confident and ready to lead the Blue Devils in his last go-around.

Antwone Blackwell '20: The junior's vertical leap jumped out immediately as soon as I stepped in the gym. Blackwell can flat out FLY. It seemed like he got his head at the rim every time he went for a dunk. His gifted athleticism will help the Blue Devils greatly in providing a spark. He also showed signs of a great rebounder and shot blocker, which will intimidate opponents. The big consensus with Blackwell right now is how he's still raw. If he can continue to learn the game and develop skills just as impressive as his athleticism then he will become a much bigger prospect. Blackwell already has garnered interest from Alabama, Columbia, Holy Cross, Drexel, Hampton, Norfolk State, Jacksonville State, and Winston Salem State. His promise remains high and he stands on my list as a player I'm very interested to see develop over the next two seasons.

 

Outlook

After losing two of the three leading scorers, Faizhon Taylor (17.7 ppg) and Malik Jefferson (10.2 ppg), to graduation, the Blue Devils still return a talented roster looking to build upon the success of last season. Audiences should expect a big senior year from Parker, who returns as one of the tallest players on the team. With Edmonds IV pacing the offense and other younger talent stepping into bigger roles, Hopewell should make another run at winning the regional championship for the second straight season; along with progressing further into the state playoffs.

 

 

 

 

Noticing a group of students watching the open gym from the bleachers, I could tell the Hopewell boys' team has some popularity within the school. Last season was impressive, but the Blue Devils have bigger expectations for this next ride!

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