Hargrave Loaded ... Again

You didn't think Kevin Keatts would return to the prep school ranks and settle for anything less than a powerhouse? Did you? Well, Keatts' 2003-04 Hargrave lineup has been set and the Tigers will be loaded.

Marshall University lost a valuable assistant coach when Kevin Keatts stepped down to re-take command of the Hargrave Military Academy basketball program he left two years ago. One would think that his brief stint away from the prep school scene might leave him a little rusty when it came time to enlist players.

Not a chance. Just look at Hargrave's roster.

Isaiah Swann, a Top 30 prospect who played at Oak Hill last season, is the headliner of the group. "Zeke" spent the summer honing his point guard skills and will probably find himself with the ball in his hands right from the start in Chatham.

Keatts needs big things out of the ultra-athletic Swann. "Certainly I think Isaiah Swann can definitely be a guy you look at to be a leader," Keatts said. "He's got a chance to be a McDonald's All-American so that helps."

Speaking of help, Swann will have plenty of it. Xavier might have pulled off one of the best steals in recent years when it landed guard Stanley Burrell. Now, Keatts has Burrell's (sitting right) services for the next year and he'll play a variety of positions.

Under the radar, but consistently a topic of conversation last summer was Emanuel Willis. The 6-7 power forward from Mendenhall (MS) High could wind up being one of hot guys this fall. Ditto for Norman Plummer, the athletic forward who picked Dayton in a big coup this summer. Plummer spent last season at Brewster Academy.

Lorenzo Wade, the smooth lefty from the west who committed to Louisville in July, should be a calming influence on this team. Wade can score points in bunches and his demeanor and efficiency could be the perfect balance for an up-tempo team. He knows all about shot selection and has a great pace to his game.

Hargrave's goal is to get the ball up the floor and quickly. They place a premium on guards and the big guys must be mobile. Darian Townes, a former Georgetown signee (pictured on the right), is mobile, can block shots and fits their style.

The rest of the backcourt will be manned by Kevin Anderson, Rashad Nixon, Dustin Dolub, Eric Witten and Thomas Carr. Frontcourt help comes in the form of Ryan Wiersma and Devon Allen.

Remember the days when Ronald Blackshear was pumping in 40 and Josh Howard and David West were doing their thing to the tune of 120-point games? Well, this edition of the Tigers should have the town of Chatham rockin'.

"You know how I like to coach and play, I'm an up tempo kind of guy so you know I like to run," Keatts said. "If you play for me you better like to run.

"I think we've got a chance to be very competitive. One of the biggest things is to try to blend everybody in, but I think we've got a chance to be special."

Having been on the college end of the equation, Keatts sees a clear purpose for Hargrave basketball and how the program's success hinges on readying players for the next four years.

"We're preparing guys for what's to come in the college ranks. We definitely put an emphasis on academics and by the way, you're going to play a little basketball. The main reason you go to a prep school is so you can get qualified academically. Athletics is last and definitely academics comes first.

"If you don't want to do it in the classroom you can't play for me."

James Thomas, James White, those guys played for Hargrave in the past and Keatts has the kind of roster that is going to make some noise.

The college coaches should mark their calendars. Hargrave's workouts run Sept. 9-12, 15-18, 22-25 and 29-30 and conclude for the coaches with a pair of sessions Oct. 1-2. Tip time is at 3:30 for each workout.

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