Posted On: 10/19/16 1:39 PM

While I made the drive to Floyd County on Tuesday night, a drive that I’m becoming more and more familiar with every year, I couldn’t help but feel like it was the start of something special. The drive from my house in Richmond was about three and a half hours, a distance that I would never travel for just one game, but this wasn’t just any game. It wasn’t even a real game!

It was the annual Chance Harman Memorial Fund Benefit Game, a scrimmage that typically pins Oak Hill against another basketball powerhouse. This year Massanutten Academy, led by Coach Chad Myers from the 540 area, took on the national powerhouse. While Massanutten lost, the game meant more than just a scrimmage between two talented teams.

The night is about celebrating the beginning of basketball season, and more importantly celebrating the life of Chance Harman and raising money for pediatric brain cancer research. This is just a taste, as both teams will be participating in the Chance Harman Classic this season on January 8th and January 9th at Floyd County High School.

Here’s what we left talking about.

 

First Half: Oak Hill 54 Massanutten 40

Second Half: Oak Hill 53 Massanutten 43

Final: Oak Hill 107 Massanutten 83

Oak Hill Primed to Repeat with Preston

Last year’s Oak Hill team had one of the best seasons in high school history, and who knows in a few years if they’ll be discussed among the best teams in high school history. Oak Hill went 45-1 last season, with their only loss coming to 22ft Academy of South Carolina in the second week of the season. The Warriors learned from that loss, a game they should have won, and went on to win their next 42 games, with the legendary season cultivating in the Dick’s National Championship game when senior Khadim Sy tipped in a miss at the buzzer in overtime to beat La Lumiere of Indiana.

Because of their long success as one of the best high school teams in the country, Oak Hill chooses not to play in the VISAA or any Virginia high school basketball league. Instead they play the toughest schedule in high school basketball, traveling the country to play the best teams in the nation, and their ultimate goal is the Dick’s National Championship.

While they return what many consider the best backcourt in the national, four high major and nationally ranked recruits, they lost almost all of their production on the wing and in the post to graduation, leaving a huge hole in their lineup. However, only as Oak Hill could do, they reloaded in a number of ways.

The Warriors brought in a host of talented players ranging in age from seniors to freshmen, however their biggest addition is 2017 Billy Preston, a 6’9” wing forward that helps with both of their needs: Size and wing scoring.

Preston was one of the top scorers in the game, and one of the most consistent players and it looked like he wasn’t even trying. He’s a smooth athlete with great elevation, can put it on the floor or shoot it off the catch and can guard and play multiple positions from the 2-5 for them this year. He’s a walking mismatch that forces a coach to choose between going small to stay in front of going big to keep him off the glass.

In this new era of positionless players that can all dribble, shoot and pass, expect Preston to cause mismatches for teams every game. He’s one of the best available prospects in the country, and he may be the biggest addition to an Oak Hill team that looks primed for a repeat this year.

Lindell Wigginton Puts On a Show; Commitment Coming Soon

Lindell Wigginton

The forgotten piece in the Oak Hill backcourt, Wigginton put on an absolute show yesterday in Floyd. The lightning quick combo guard showed major bounce as he caught a number of alley-oops that brought the house down, and he was feeling it as he was aggressive with the ball and moved well without the ball. There were no stats at the event, but Wigginton had to have been up there for leading scorer with Preston, and he showed good vision as he thread the needle a number of times for easy baskets.

At times Wigginton can be erratic, however Coach Smith continues to give him the green light and he always responds by playing hard and making plays. He may over rotate on one play, but he’ll read the press right and jump the passing lane for an easy transition bucket on the next one. After the game, Wigginton said that he’s officially cut his list to three, and a decision may be coming sooner than thought.

“I’m down to Iowa State, Oregon and Arizona State,” Wigginton said. “I like them all, but a decision is coming soon, maybe even this weekend.”

Wherever and whenever Wigginton decides to commit, one of those programs will have landed an immediate impact player.

Massanutten Frontcourt Battles and Boosts Stock

Keon Queen
Keon Queen battled with the Oak Hill bigs all night.

It wasn’t all that pretty for Massanutten as they were just out manned throughout the night, however their big man tandem of 6’9” Jamarko Pickett and 6’8” Keon Queen battled all night with Oak Hill’s talented backcourt.

From a skill set standpoint, Pickett showed why he has high majors such as Creighton and Ole Miss all over the post grad big. He’s somewhat slender, but he’s very long and athletic, and showed the ability to hit the three ball both off the catch and off the bounce. He was successful in sizing up the slower bigs of Oak Hill and blowing by them, or shooting over smaller bigs. If he can continue to fill out and improve in his perimeter game, he should see even more high majors come around.

Queen, a 6’8” more traditional big, was physical and played with a high motor throughout the game. He made a few small mistakes early, but he battled on the glass on both ends of the floor, and he was successful in frustrating Oak Hill’s bigs to commit some silly fouls in the post, getting them in foul trouble. He also is long and needs to fill out, but some school is going to see him and love his high motor, toughness and production.

Chuck’s Still a Buck at Massanutten

Charles Falden

The one kid that I kept stats for the whole game was 2017 Charles Falden, because I wanted to see how he would fare against the best backcourt in the country. Last season, Falden was named the 5A State Player of the Year at LC Bird High School in Chesterfield. While his team lost in the state championship, Falden scored 17 points in 2 minutes to bring his team back from a late 15 point deficit, almost single handedly bringing them back.

Falden, known as “Chuck” by some of his teammates and close friends, came on late in his high school career (he played JV as a sophomore), but last season he was one of the best pure scorers in the state. He’s a 6’3” two guard that can move within sets to get his shot, run the floor to finish in transition or break down his defender off the bounce in isolation situations to get where he wants.

While the pace of the game started out pretty slow as Massanutten zoned Oak Hill and were trying to feel them out offensively, Falden showed no fear early when his number was called. As Oak Hill was starting to make shots around the 15 minute mark in the first half, Falden put on a quick spurt of 6 points to keep halt the run. He attacked the rim, showed a solid middle game and didn’t shy away from his scoring opportunities. He finished the first half with 9 points and 2 assists.

In the second half, Falden stumbled early as the size and athleticism of Oak Hill forced him to miss two lay ups in the first five minutes of the half. However, Coach Chad Myers stuck with him, and it paid off later. As Oak Hill looked like they were going to pull away, Falden had another spurt where he scored five straight points in two possessions, giving Massanutten life as they made a run and tried to get back into it for the second half.

The evaluation on Falden was positive for the most part. He finished with 17 points and four assists, playing almost the whole game against the best defensive backcourt in the country. He left some scoring opportunities on the board with the two missed layups and a couple missed free throws, but he continued to be aggressive and look to score when his team needed it most. He should see his recruitment pick up if he can show that he can consistently score it against high level prospects.

Dave McCormack: Just What the Doctor Ordered

David McCormack

We talked about how Oak Hill needed to load up at the wing and post positions, and they got exactly what they wanted in the aforementioned Preston, and in 6’10”, 275 lbs. nationally ranked David McCormack.

McCormack came to Oak Hill late, deciding to transfer in late September from Norfolk Academy. He got in foul trouble in the first half, as the Massanutten bigs were able to frustrate him. However, in the second half McCormack was just what the doctor ordered.

His massive size allows him to clog the lane and alter shots without leaving his feet, so he forced a lot of misses early in the second half that led to easy buckets for the Warriors. He scored the first four points of the half, one of them a ferocious right handed throw down, and finished the half with 11 points and 5 rebounds.

The Warriors always have a dominant, highly recruited big man that anchors the paint and allows them to trap all over the floor defensively. If McCormack can stay out of foul trouble, cause problems 1-on-1 in the post and clean up the glass, in other words own the paint, it will be just what Oak Hill needs to put themselves over the top in their chase for another national championship.