Kevin Keatts is back – and so is Hargrave.
The former Hargrave coach took a two-year leave of absence of sorts from the prep ranks to become an assistant college coach at Marshall, but he's returned with a vengeance.
``I'm really happy to be back working with kids at the grassroots," Keatts said. "I had a great two years in college, but I wanted to come back and be able to play some of the best prep teams in the country."
Hargrave could make a valid case for the No. 1 preseason club in the nation, but we're giving the nod to the defending champion Laurinburg (N.C.) for the time being.
``Everybody knows him as a great player, but we've slid him from a combo guard to more of a point guard," Keatts said. "He's doing a great job running the show so far."
Versatile guards Lorenzo Wade (Louisville) and Stanley Burrell (Xavier) should also be fixtures in the starting lineup. The 6-5, 190-pound Wade is from Las Vegas and has one of the best mid-range games in the nation while the 6-3, 185-pound Burrell can play both guard spots and on the wing.
As loaded as it is in the backcourt, Hargrave is nearly as good up front.
Emanuel Willis, a 6-8, 220-pound Kenyon Martin-clone from Mississippi who committed to USC, and Norman Plummer, a hard-working 6-6, 210-pound combo forward who led the New England prep ranks in scoring a year ago at Brewster Academy (N.H.), will both get plenty of minutes – although one will likely come off the bench.
``I think we're very talented," Keatts said. "I've had some talented teams, but this year might be the deepest team I've had. We can legitimately go 10 deep."
Don't expect Hargrave to match its loss total of four games from last season.
The bench is also solid, with 6-4, 180-pound former Oxon Hill (Md.) guard Rashaud Nixon, 6-6 ½, 215-pound senior power forward Ryan Wiersma and 6-3, 190-pound guard Ohio native Kevin Anderson. Guards Dustin Golub (6-0, 180), Eric Witten (6-2, 185), Thomas Carr (6-0, 175) and Aleks Musika (6-0, 180) will also battle for time.
``My main goal is for every guy to qualify and place every kid in a college program," Keatts added. "We'd love to win every game if we can, but we're going to take it one game at a time. Concentrate on the next game and don't look ahead."