By Aggrey Sam
For about the last 10 years of my life, I’ve only seriously followed three sports: high school basketball, college basketball, the NBA and everything else (mostly football and boxing). College and pro basketball are easy enough to keep track of just by watching Inside the NBA or listening to Dick Vitale ramble for five minutes sometime between November and the Final Four, but high school basketball is a different story. Between AAU ball, sneaker camps, the recruiting game and the actual high school season, you gotta pay attention 365 days a year to know what’s going on. By no means do I consider myself an expert in the field, but as someone who talks to coaches, writes about and works with prep ballplayers and watches a good number of them play, hopefully this will help keep you plugged in as the high school season gets underway. I live in Philadelphia and while there’s a lot of good talent here, I don’t always get the word about kids in other cities.. E-mail me or hit the message boards about sleepers in your hood or any other talented ballers you’ve seen. If you saw a game featuring a marquee player or team, let me know. I wanna know what players or teams people or talking about in your city. I won’t be able to show love to everybody, but I’ll try to highlight some of the more-deserving players, teams and other high school-related stuff we don’t always have room for in the mag.
Don’t Sleep On…
Here are a few sleepers to keep your eye on this season. This is something I’ll get back to every once in a while, so feel free to hit me up about players who are putting in work.
–Jason Henry, 6-8 wing, Light of the World Christian Academy (GA)
Described by his coach, Mack Cleveland, as “a T-Mac/Penny Hardaway-type,” Henry is pushing top-25 status in most senior rankings. A product of West Memphis, Ark., but now at prep school in the ATL, Henry might end up being ranked even higher than that. Playing with a low-profile AAU team and skipping out on the sneaker camps didn’t help his rep nationally, but his impressive skillset, smooth athleticism and a 30+ ppg scoring average have recruiting experts buzzing and big-time coaches showing love
–Angelo Johnson, 5-11 pg, Stoneridge Prep (CA)
The Minneapolis native put his name on the map at last month’s National Prep School Invitational in Massachusetts. A stocky penetrator in the mold of Dominic James, no one could stay in front of him at the event, which had about 20 of the nation’s elite prep schools in attendance. One observer comments, “He reminds me of Josh Pace from Syracuse with all his floaters.” More of a mid-range shooter than three-point threat, Johnson also showed he could get to the cup and score over the trees (“He kinds reminds me of Josh Pace from Syracuse with his floater,” said one observer) or create for his Cali prep school teammates with equal effectiveness.
–Nayal “Mac” Koshwal, 6-9 combo forward, Boys to Men Academy (IL)
Even at a powerful 240 pounds, Koshwal is successfully making the transition from a true post player to one who can step outside and play on the wing. His teammate at BTMA, in Chitown, point guard Raymond “Doodles” Sims, recounts a recent jaw-dropping play Mac made: “Against South Kent (a Connecticut prep school) this weekend, he got a rebound and took it coast to coast, down the middle of the lane. This kid tried to take a charge on him, and he took off from the dotted line and dunked it.” I wouldn’t call Koshwal, who’s staying at home to attend DePaul next year, a sleeper, but with his combination of power and wing skills, he’s a kid we all need to get more familiar with.
–Brad Wanamaker, 6-4 wing, Roman Catholic HS (PA)
Living in Philly, I’ve seen Brad develop into quite a prospect over the past few years. A 210-pound power guard headed to Pitt, his defense, intensity and rugged driving skills epitomize the prototype Philadelphia ballplayer. “Brad is the type of kid that just gets it done. He goes hard and creates his own shot the best part of his game is his ability to get to the rim,” says former teammate Mike Ringgold, now prepping at the Winchendon School. “Some guys do one thing real well, but Brad does everything at least OK. Don’t sleep on my man; he will dunk on you.”