While it probably goes without saying, Coach Heath Vandevender has seen an abundance of talent come through the doors during his time at Trinity Christian. From the likes of Dennis Smith to Josh Nickelberry, Joey Baker, Greg Gantt, and countless others, there has been no shortage of accomplishments for the Crusaders. Even recently, he’s won a lot of games behind the leadership of Freddie Dilione, Cam Oates, and Jamori McDougald. Despite nearly unparalleled success, the recent shift in dynamics and overall uptick in player movement forced Trinity Christian into a minor rebuilding phase slightly earlier than expected. However, there should be no reason to panic, especially given the ebbs and flows of high school basketball.
In looking at their current roster, the Crusaders will ultimately go as far as the two-headed monster of 6’7 ’23 Steven Lassiter and 6’0 ’23 Xavier Tubbs can take them. In many ways, Lassiter is the main leader and overall tone-setter for this group. Not only does his unselfish, blue-collar mentality naturally stand out on both ends of the floor, but he possesses the necessary IQ and polish to carry his weight in terms of production. Lassiter plays with a high motor, which allows him to make a constant impact as a defender, rebounder, and hustle player. He also understands how to consistently apply offensive pressure as an inside-out forward, showing the ability to be equally reliable in both areas. Meanwhile, Tubbs is arguably their most electric player at the current stage. He’s a strong, crafty guard prospect with nice vision, shot-creation instincts, and the ability to score in a variety of different ways. Tubbs looks to set up others at a quality rate, but seems to really thrive when tasked with getting downhill and generating shots inside the arc. He possesses a sturdy frame and displays solid body control as a finisher through contact. Although juniors, both guys should already be notable names for scholarship-level coaches.
Although there should be definite excitement surrounding their aforementioned pairing, folks should also start getting optimistic about the Crusaders’ long-term upside with young guys like 6’0 ’25 Devaughn Brown and 6’3 ’25 Howard Herbert on the rise. Both players have showcased a ton of potential over their middle-school years, but it’s all beginning to come to fruition. In looking at Brown, his poise was evident from an early age. He came to camp as a seventh-grader, won MVP, and went back to the lab with relative silence. Since then, Brown has only continued to trend upward and maintain his favorable trajectory. Despite being a freshman point guard for a noteworthy program, he already looks quite comfortable at making decisions with the ball in his hands. He possesses a nice jumper, unselfish approach, and solid pace to his game. Brown is fairly well-rounded and understands his role within the general scheme of things. On the other hand, Herbert is quite talented—yet still only scratching the surface. His combination of feel, skill, and physical tools should make his appeal somewhat obvious to the masses. Currently, Hebert is capable of naturally producing within the flow of the action. He doesn’t necessarily need sets ran for him, but does indeed have the tools to cut, spot-up, or create his own shot off the bounce. Add in his length, blossoming athleticism, and steady growth to this point, and Herbert should only continue to progress. Expect Trinity Christian to keep winning games and churning out enticing prospects over the coming years.