We’re going to see a lot of Oak Hill this season and for good reason. Coach Steve Smith has five ESPNU 100 prospects on his roster and as talented as they are, it was a mid-major prospect who made the biggest impression on Saturday.
Clark beasts FUMA inside
Darion Clark (Conyers, Ga./Oak Hill) is about the ninth most-recognizable name on Oak Hill’s roster. However, he’s far from being the ninth most important player. If he’s able to replicate the ridiculous work he did on the glass, well, Smith will not only play him but will continue to start him. Clark, according to Oak Hill assistant Wilbur Allen, hauled in 20 rebounds in 28 minutes of action!
This kid’s motor was revving something fierce. His commitment to excellent on the glass was insane. He couldn’t be boxed out and there was no denying him from close range. Successful teams need players like this. Without the same hype as his teammates, Clark is proving his point. He’s carving out minutes and a starting role. Forget rankings, reputations, etc., on this team, he’s not getting beat out. It looks like he won’t allow it.
UNC-Asheville, Rhode Island and Florida Gulf Coast have offered the mid-major power forward. He’s undersized (yet determined) at 6-foot-6. Don’t call him a mid-major steal because that doesn’t do him justice. At the proper level (when he’s not up against 6-9 and 6-10 players) he’ll be in for a tremendous career. Southern Conference, A-10’s and some CAA’s should drive up the mountain and check him out.
Oak Hill’s backcourt talent
This is the strength of the team and a month from now, once roles are defined, should allow for high-octane performance. Tyler Lewis (Statesville, N.C./Oak Hill) is the alley-oop-tossing ringleader. He wants to go fast and he’s got weapons. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is the club’s top scoring threat and he showed as much on Saturday. DSR connected on his first seven shots, including three 3-pointers. He finished with 19 points, five rebounds and two assists. The trick is for the pair to play off each other’s strengths. Both tend to work best with the ball in their hands but the team needs both on the floor with Lewis pulling the strings and DSR getting buckets.
Flanking these two will be a host of talented wings. Damien Wilson (Austell, Ga./Oak Hill) was held out of action and temporarily in a boot for the next week. Jordan Adams (Lawrenceville, Ga./Oak Hill) can do a little bit of everything. Not explosive but efficient and capable of carrying a club with his offense. His body was too much for FUMA in and around the basket.
Hammons looked more assertive
A.J. Hammons (Carmel, Ind./Oak Hill) is one of the most difficult players to evaluate in the entire class. He arrived this fall at Oak Hill in excellent condition. Not once but twice he got off the ground to catch alley-oops from Lewis. He’s definitely more assertive than he was last year. Face it, the kid is 7-feet and 275 pounds; everyone wants him to be good. The trick is turning these “flashes” into sustained, impactful efforts. Hammons had just six points and two rebounds in a pair of periods to go with two blocks. It might not sound like much, but his aggression was noticeable, especially early on.
Not everyone is wired up to carry a team or shoulder the load. Having said that, Hammons could be a piece of the puzzle for a high-major squad. When he signs, fans will laud his ranking and relish his size. The reality is, he’s a long-term center whom you invest time in for two seasons with the hope of a big return his junior and senior campaigns.
Fork Union coach Fletcher Arrit’s been at this 44 years but Saturday was his first trip to Oak Hill Academy. FUMA fell 96-58 in two 20-minute halves; a third run was closer but yours truly lost track of the score. If this is truly Coach Arrit’s final year, be sure to thank him if you see him for his service and the generations of players he influenced along the way.
D.S.R. arrived at Oak Hill in tip-top shape. He’s always been built for contact, but this lighter version has intentions of being more effective for longer stretches.
FUMA’s got a handful of kids who will need games to prove themselves. Power forward Kion Brown (Richmond, Va./FUMA) and wing Brandon Neel (Palmyra, Va./FUMA) were the team’s most aggressive players in the scrimmage.