Oak Hill Academy and Hargrave Military Academy are two of the nation’s iconic basketball programs. Both have sent countless dudes to the league and both have one numerous national championships. For the ’15-16 campaign, Oak Hill went 42-1 to take home the high school ‘chip and Hargrave went 47-1 to take hope the prep school crown. The two Virginia powerhouses take part in an annual scrimmage for the battle of Virginia (Hargrave has post-grads while Oak Hill has traditional high school students) at a neutral site, which for 2016 was tiny Dobson, NC.
It seemed like nearly all of Dobson’s 1,586 people showed up to the game based on the parking lot when we first pulled up. Despite the fact that it was a neutral site, the game was about as hyped as you could get. The players certainly did not treat things like a scrimmage either. Ultimately, Oak Hill won the two halves (since it was a scrimmage, they reset the score at halftime) 49-43 and 49-46. They ran a third period for the reserves (which gave us a chance to watch the youngsters) that resulted in a 13-13 tie.
Here are a few of the guys who stood out in the Battle of Virginia:
Matt Coleman, 6-2, PG, Oak Hill Academy, 2017
While he’s been on the block for a while now, Matt Coleman showed everyone in Dobson why he is one of the best point guards in the country. Matt showed off a simply ridiculous change of pace, had a number of Brandon Jennings no-look passes, and nearly banged on a dude who was trying to take a charge on him. On the defensive end, the Hampton native played killer on ball D and used his quick hands to create tons of steals. Down to Duke, Stanford, Kansas, Texas, and Syracuse, Coleman is undoubtedly one of the most sought after players in the country.
Billy Preston, 6-10, PF, Oak Hill Academy, 2017
The most highly touted player in the game lived up to the hype by dropping an easy 27 points. At 6-foot-10, there aren’t many things that he can’t do on the hardwood. Preston nailed a pair of deep threes, helped handle the rock against Oak Hill’s press, and used his prototypical NBA size to create mismatches. What was most impressive was the effort that he put in on the defensive end. Standing 6-foot-10 and a lean 230 pounds with a 7’1 wingspan, Preston has gifts to be a game changing defender if he wants to. Lockdown D or not, the Cali product is an undoubted top ten prospect in the class who is working towards top five on a daily basis.
Justin Brown, 6-6, SF, Hargrave Military Academy, 2017
While he wasn’t the most talented player in the game, Justin Brown was probably my favorite player in the game to watch. At 6-foot-6, he was the ultimate utility player for Hargrave. He rebounded on both ends against taller foes, defended multiple positions, and used his crafty play to finish above the Oak Hill trees. The lefty showed range out to the three point line and his gritty, versatile play will make him a dream for a college coach with a four out, one in offense.
Brandon Knapper, 6-1, PG/SG, Hargrave Military Academy, 2017
A guy who I had admittedly never seen going into the game, Brandon Knapper showed why home state West Virginia locked him up. A super shifty guard, he played primarily off of the ball next to Ohio State bound Braxton Beverly, but you could see that he was able to create off of the bounce. He showed off deep range, ran the pick and roll well, and had a straight natural scoring instinct. The grit and heart that he has will make him fit in perfectly with Bob Huggins at WVU.
Ty-Shon Alexander, 6-3, SG, Oak Hill Academy, 2017
Creighton has been killing it for a decade now and the reason that they do that is by getting steals like Ty-Shon Alexander. The tough shooting guard straight up attacked everyone who was guarding him with a killer instinct, shot it well from deep, and showed off a nice handle for an off guard. At the mid-major level, expect big things from the Charlotte native.
Kenneth Nwuba, 6-9, C, Oak Hill Academy, 2018
While there were a number of players who put up better numbers, Kenneth Nwuba impacted the game in a number of ways that don’t necessarily show up in the box score. The 6-foot-9 man-child was outstanding running the floor, intimidated opposing players who dared to come in the paint, and often times took up two defenders to box him out. While his offensive game is still very much a work in progress, Nwuba is the type of physical inforcer in the paint that every college coach dreams of.