Prep Countdown: No. 2 Hargrave

CHATHAM, Va. – Kevin Keatts is collecting big men like they're trading cards. This season, Hargrave Military Academy will boast one of the best frontlines in America – and that includes college!

There are some outstanding frontcourts across the country this year. UConn is loaded and Duke isn't bad either. Louisville, Texas, Kansas, Gonzaga, Oklahoma and N.C. State have some depth as well. And then there's Hargrave, easily the most loaded frontcourt outside of the elite college groups.

"It's impressive," Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News said. "(Kevin Keatts has) done an impressive job collecting talent, that's for sure."

Hargrave's imposing frontline begins with 6-foot-9 power forward Vernon Macklin, Scout.com's No. 14 prospect in 2006. Marreese Speights, all 6-foot-10 of him, is ranked No. 52 and 6-foot-11 Jonathan Mandeldove (not ranked as he's a post grad) anchors the backliners.

"It's my most talented frontline since Sherrod Ford, Jason Clark and Michael Southall," Keatts said of his trio. "We're talented, we're very talented. I'm excited about working with those guys."

As it breaks down up front, Speights is probably the team's best pure post scorer in terms of what he can do on the blocks. Meanwhile, Macklin is the top athlete and most explosive insider. Then there's Mandeldove, (pictured) the young big man with a huge upside who continues to grow as a player and a prospect. Combined, few will have answers for the firepower they can bring.

Speaking of firepower, Keatts has plenty of options on the wing. His most athletic wing is Tyler Smith, the post grad out of Pulaski, Tenn. This young man is 6-foot-6, strong and wants to attack the rim all the time.

"I think he's going to flourish in this system," Keatts said. "He gets up and down, he's super athletic and now he's starting to knock down the outside shot." Therein lies the key to Smith's collegiate standing. He's going to be recruited at the highest level and should he begin banging the jumper with a measure of consistency then he'll be an even more coveted recruit.

If the bigs aren't banging and Smith isn't slashing, have no fear because Stefan Welsh will be on the scene. The Arkansas-bound wing brings a reputation for scoring and could find himself playing a dual role of scorer and distributor.

Armon Bassett is going to have a big responsibility. Known primarily for his ability to score it from the perimeter and put up big point totals, Bassett has all kinds of weapons and he's going to be the guy who triggers this potent collection. The fact that he'll be forced to run this team will aid in his long-term development.

Not widely known but ready to come off the bench and make plays is 6-foot-6 point forward James Eversley (pictured).

Stephen Kendall, a shooting guard, is the team's most reliable 3-point ace. Once committed to Virginia, Kendall is now headed to Richmond."

The "glue guy" of this team could wind up being Asown Sayles, a dirty work forward out of the Pittsburgh-area who signed with Ohio. Virginian Devan Carter, a 6-foot-1 guard, will come off the bench and could provide some instant offense.


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