Posted On: 08/27/20 4:07 PM

Zion RussellZionRussell6'0" | PGHargrave | 2021StateVA quickly built a name for himself when he hit the high school scene thanks to his shifty ball-handling skills and ability to finish explosively around the rim. In late July, the 6-foot-2 guard announced that he would reclass into the class of 2022 and remain at Hargrave Military Academy, the school that Russell transferred to shortly after the 2019-20 school year began.

Russell played the 2019-20 season for the varsity team at Hargrave under head coach Ben Veshi where he felt like he improved his game.

“Coach Veshi is a great coach overall and really helped me work on my game. We worked on little things that will evolve my game into being an overall player. He sees the potential in me, so I’m just going to work as hard as I can to maximize that potential to the best of my ability.”

Russell transferred to Hagrave from Georgetown Prep where he was the catalyst for the offense and played in a tough IAC league. Still, he sees a difference in the level of play since heading to Chatham, Va.

“In the IAC it’s very structured to where you’re running a lot of sets and focusing more on the college-like settings, but in the Virginia conference that we’re in you’re expected to make plays more on the fly. We’re running plays still, but we play more to mismatches and stuff. The competition is right there though and I still would say it’s even in that sense, it’s just a different format of basketball,” Russell told Prep Hoops.

Russell is an explosive scorer who can get going at any point within a game. In one game against Catholic High School, he led Hargrave to a 77-64 win behind his 31 points. He knocked down four-straight three’s in the second quarter.

That’s one example of how Russell can impact a game quickly with the ball in his hands. He also has plus athleticism for his size and can finish above the rim in the open floor. When he’s focused, he can lock down defensively and make things difficult on both sides for the opposition.

“My focus next year is just consistency. Whether it’s my catch and shoot, shooting off the dribble and me just coming ready to play at all times. I have a bad habit of mentally checking out sometimes and I know that if I’m locked in I can really do great things with that mentality.”

It impressed me that not only Russell acknowledges the fact he mentally checks out on some possessions, but how he admitted to it right away. It speaks to his awareness and maturity when it comes to his performances.

As far as recruitment, Russell holds offers from Boston, Bryant and Columbia. Since he announced his reclassification, he tells me told me Lehigh, Niagra, UMBC and Yale have reached out to establish relationships. 

It’s expected that Russell will take on an even bigger role in 2020-21. With that being said, I’d expect his recruitment to pick up even more once coaches are exposed to his explosiveness, athleticism and dynamic playmaking ability from the lead guard spot.