Phenom Hoop Report made its annual journey to Mouth of Wilson, Virginia to cover the Oak Hill Academy open gym. For head coach Steve Smith, he is truly a living legend as a high school basketball coach or at any level. Coach Smith is entering his 35th year as head coach and has accumulated an impressive resume. He has won 1151 games to only 79 loses for an overall win percentage of 94%. In addition, Coach Smith has won nine national championship and seven runner ups which mean he has either finished first of second 45% of his head coaching tenure. This is truly a mind staggering record and Coach Smith has done it with honor, integrity, and character. There is not a single coach in the country that has built such a tremendous coaching resume, not to mention he is one of the best sideline coaches in terms of making an adjustment and being highly regarded as a true gentleman of the game.
Oak Hill has won two national championships in the last seven years, once in 2012 and again in 2016. Last year’s team on paper had the star power with Cole Anthony running the point guard position while Kofi Cockburn controlling the paint. In addition, Cam Thomas is an instinct “bucket getter” and has a reputation as being one of the best perimeter shooters in the country. That being said, playing their usual difficult schedule and being everyone’s “Super Bowl” game, Oak Hill suffered an unusual five loses for the season. Yes, Oak Hill still had an impressive season for most schools, but for Steve Smith, it may have been one of his more difficult seasons in the past 10 seasons. This years team, may not have as much “star power,” but it does have a tremendous amount of moving pieces that will allow Oak Hill to be in the title hunt for another run at the high school national championship. Team chemistry will be most important and if the players all buy in the same approach as the 2012 Oak Hill team that went 44-0 and won the National Championship. That 2012 team had the mindset of one thing and one thing only, they put aside personal goals for team goals and their team goal was to win a National Championship. Now, let’s take a closer look at the 2019-20 version of Oak Hill.
6’4 2020 Cam Thomas
As the old saying goes, “shooters translate at every level,” and one thing is crystal clear for coach Steve Smith and Oak Hill. Cam Thomas is a bucket getter. First of all, Thomas can score from all three levels. He has excellent quickness, athleticism, and a great first step. While the stoic Thomas quietly makes his presence known once he steps onto the basketball court. He plays with tremendous confidence and poise and will be looked upon as one of the top seniors on the Oak Hill roster. He recently eliminated NC State from his list of finalist and just took an official visit to the LSU and is scheduled to visit Auburn, UCLA, and UConn. Make no mistake about it, Cam Thomas will be looked upon to bring valuable senior leadership especially since he is a returning starter from last year’s team.
6’1 K.K. Robinson
The senior point guard will be relied on heavily by the coaching staff. The southpaw has tight handles, excellent court vision, and the ability to knock down perimeter jump shots. That being said, Robinson best value may just be on the defensive side of the court. Robinson has advanced defensive principles. He sits low and plays with his arms/hands wide that enables him to play much bigger than his 6’1 listed height. During open gym, we were impressed with his poise, maturity, and ability to make the correct pass time and time again. While Robinson has the ability to score from the perimeter and keep defenses off balance with his dribble penetration, he has the ability to control the tempo and the flow on the game, not to mention getting his team set in the offensive half court
6’9 Bradley Ezewiro
We were really impressed with the inside/outplay of 6’9 Bradley Ezewiro. Ezewiro has a strong body and plenty of girth that makes his a tough matchup for opposing centers. He has the power and strength to overpower the majority of centers in the paint simply because he uses his body and frame to gain an excellent low-post position. Ezewiro is extremely patience in the post, has terrific footwork, passer friendly hands and is a willing passer out of the post area. He’s extremely crafty, but also has the ability to step out and consistently knock down the perimeter shot and even beyond the 3-point line. Ezewiro has already taken an official visit to LSU and plans to visit Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Southern Cal, and Virginia Tech.
6’9 Emmanuel Okopomo
Emmanuel Okopomo could be the surprise or sleeper player for Oak Hill this season. While he is still somewhat raw offensively, he does sport good footwork in the paint and has a jump hook as his one go-to move. That being said, he will contribute heavily on the defensive end of the court. Sporting an enormous 7’6 wingman, Okopomo will be asked to know his role of being an elite level rim protector and actively crashed the boards on both ends of the court. We were really impressed with his ability to anticipate rebounds and in speaking with head coach Steve Smith, he stated, “Okopomo is excellent in defensive transition and has the footwork and mindset to properly make the right reads defensively. If Okopomo will defend the rim, rebound and run the floor in transition, any scoring will be the icing on the cake for this athletic and lengthy Okopomo.
6’5 Darrick Jones
Darrick Jones is a strong and explosive wing that is fantastic in transition and is often on the giving end of some crowd-pleasing dunks. He’s best going downhill but has also developed a more consistent mid-range game. Jones will be getting valuable minutes this season and will be asked to do a lot of things that often don’t show up in the box score. Jones has the strength and athleticism to guard and play multiple positions and be the team’s utility or glue guy.
6’8 Jamari Sibley
We were unable to watch Jamari Sibley at the open gym due to the fact he was on an official visit to Minnesota. Hailing from Milwaukee, Sibley has been a recruiting target of various Big 10 schools in the area. Known for his versatility and mobility, Sibley is an extremely long and athletic hybrid forward that also has good range on his jumper.
6’5 Darius Maddox
Darius Maddox will be the perfect complement to teammate Cam Thomas. The Virginia Tech commit is also a shot maker and has the ability to push the ball in transition and serve as a secondary ball-handler. He’s active and has the ability to create his own shots off the dribble/bounce or simply move without the ball and come off screens for jumpers. In addition, Maddox rebounds extremely well for his position and simply has a knack for the being around the ball. With the addition of Maddox, coach Steve Smith has two really good wings that have the ability to score from all three levels, not to mention the ability to ease some of the defensive attention that will be geared toward Cam Thomas
6’1 Evan Johnson
Evan Johnson was still sidelined with an injury and was unable to participate in open gym. That being said, once he becomes healthy, Johnson will serve as a backup point guard and can easily slide over the shooting guard position. Known for his outstanding range and ability to knock down consistently, Johnson also has the ability to stretch the opposing defense with his uncanny range and efficiency from beyond the 3-point line.
6’7 Jalen Reed
Only a sophomore, Jalen Reed has tremendous upside and potential. He has a very smooth/fluid game and surprised us with his outstanding lateral quickness and defense when we were isolated on the wing with 6’1 PG K.K. Robinson. He sat down low on defense with played wide with his arms and hands and created a defensive stop that was very impressive. Once Reed develops a consistently high motor, he could easily be a name you will be hearing about on the national level for the next several years.
Overall, this year’s team has no Cole Anthony, but again not many teams have a player of his talent and ability, however, Oak Hill will have a roster of five top 100 players nationally that may create a more cohesive unit on the floor. If the 2020 version of Oak Hill can buy into the mindset from the 44-0 and National Championship team from 2012, this year’s version may just surprise all the national pundits. Coach Steve Smith has many complementary pieces for this year’s team and from our viewing at open gym, he has a team that is very interchangeable and will be much more difficult to guard.