Posted On: 11/4/18 6:54 PM

Hamilton Heights Christian Academy is reigning National Associate of Christian Athletes (NACA) Champions and Stratford High advanced to the 2018 Class AA semifinals. Both dominated dozens of teams a year ago. Saturday they met in a preseason scrimmage.

Two details need be mentioned upfront. HHCA features, at a minimum, seven high major basketball prospects and none of them played in this game. Stratford features two D1 prospects and one is ineligible (grades) until at least early December. Mike Wallace was an enormous reason Stratford advanced as far as they did last season an figures to be a featured player in the SHS Spartan system this season…if he becomes eligible.

His absence was unexpected and remains a major disappointment. Hopefully he and his supporters can get his academics to improve.

Five themes emerged in the scrimmage between HHCA’s B-team and Stratford minus Wallace.

Five Takeaways

    • Stratford pouted after misses.   And there were many misses.  Of course, offensive flow lags behind defensive commitment (for most) early in the season.  More bothersome than Stratford’s misses against a sizable Hamilton Heights Christian Academy team were the downcast heads. 
    • Yerald Mieses is a star. Forewarned by former HHCA President Duke Stone, I expected a solid sophomore Saturday in Yerald Mieses.   I vastly underestimated the Dominican import.  Mieses sparkled in long minutes. Originally ranked #64 in Class of 2021 upon arrival based on two recommendations, Mieses is woefully underrated by us.  Expect him to be top 20 as soon as 2021 is updated.
    • Stratford needs composure. Juwon Carpenter (2019) is a college prospect with incredible grit and composure, but he is largely alone on the court in tense moments.  After losing multiple starters to graduation Stratford lacks the veterans to endure.  Can they develop this as the season progresses?    The hope internally is that the unproven youngsters improve rapidly and/or Mike Wallace returns in December.
    • Hamilton Heights is deep at guard.  Yerald Mieses, Tony Farrar (pictured above),  Marcus Tankersley all held their own against a very quick Stratford team.  The 63rd best prospect in 2021, Farrar still needs better lateral quickness.  Offensively, he is capable and in the open floor he really excels.  As mentioned above, Mieses does nearly everything a high school guard should do.    None of these guys will start for HHCA as Jordan Rawls and Samson Ruzhentsev figure to get the 1-2 spots. 
    • Heavily populated at guard Stratford appears intent on trapping and challenging ball-handlers. The perimeter quickness excites.  Much of their offense should come off turnovers and rattling opposing dribblers.
    • HHCA center Sammy Itodo is less raw than he once was. Big, lanky Sammy is developing steadily, consistently.  The senior forward verbally committed to Gardner-Webb this fall.  His ceiling is yet undetermined thanks to his elite height and long arms.  Sammy keeps finding more and more comfort on the low blocks.