Seattle’s Nathan Hale HS captured the attention of America this season after rising to the No. 1 spot in the national rankings. After going 3-18 last season, the Raiders added a star-studded roster that included hiring former three-time NBA All-Star Brandon Roy as their head coach while the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2017 transferred in from Father Tolton HS in Columbia, MO. The result was going undefeated in a 29-0 season and claiming the state title. Statement victories included taking down Sierra Canyon HS (who at that point in the season was ranked No. 1 in the country) and national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy.
The impressive resume subsequently led to them being invited to partake in the prestigious DICK’S HS Nationals in late March in New York. But after deliberating amongst themselves, the team has decided it will not participate in the season-culminating showcase.
“We appreciate the invite,” said first-year coach Brandon Roy after a school assembly to celebrate the state title. “A lot of people made a lot of it this season and we didn’t. We were just focused on winning the state championship. But I don’t want the kids to get knocked for a decision we’re making now. It just wouldn’t come together this year, but hopefully in the future, it’s maybe something we will be able to do.”
Roy cited that his star player partaking in the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago on March 29, the night before the DICK’S Nationals quarterfinals, played a role in the decision.
“There were a number of reasons why and that’s part of it,” Roy said. “It wouldn’t be fair to have him gone the whole week and then have to fly in and play that day. I don’t think that’s a true sign of a national champion, even if some other teams may be doing it.”
Porter, on the other hand, made it clear that they had done more than enough to prove that they were the best team in the country this year.
“A lot of us wanted to go because Tre’Var (Holland) and Keegan (Crosby) are seniors and we feel like they didn’t get the recognition they deserve from colleges, so it would be another opportunity for them,” Porter said. “But we don’t have anything to prove. I feel we’re the best team in the country.”
And it’s a sentiment that Roy fully supported.
“We feel like we’re the best team in the country,” Roy said. “Even if we would have been able to win Dick’s, we couldn’t say we proved that to every team because California (champions) can’t go. There would still be a lot of unknowns out there even if we went.”
A spokesperson for the DICK’S Nationals spoke with USA Today and gave his take on Nathan Hale’s decision afterward:
“We respect their decision, but it’s the first time a team was eligible to play, with a McDonald’s All-American, that has declined the opportunity to play” said Rashid Ghazi of Paragon Marketing, which assembles the teams for the tournament. “We’ll have five other McDonald’s All-Americans there. While it’s disappointing, we have six teams in the top 10 (of the Super 25) all ready to play and a number of other teams in the top 25 that are calling us, wanting a shot to play.