Prep Countdown: No. #1 Patterson School

The only thing different about this season for Coach Chris Chaney is his surroundings. The skipper of one of America's true post grad powers has relocated to Patterson, N.C., where he's reloaded and has a chance to replicate last season's success.

If Southern Cal is the most dominant college football program over the last three years, then Chris Chaney is prep basketball's answer to Pete Carroll. Coming off a 40-0 national championship season at Laurinburg last year, Chaney switched venues – but not styles – and headed for The Patterson School in rural Patterson, N.C.

And he brought players with him.

Chaney knows a little something about recruiting talent and he's not just a collector of good players; he's like a fine art dealer who can never have enough paintings for his collection. How many teams – high school or post grad – boast 15 Division I players. The answer: just one and Chaney's the skipper.

Bringing that many scholarship players into the fold means that you have to keep them happy and since just five play at a time, that means at any given moment (under regular conditions) there could be as many as 10 guys sitting on the bench staring you down wondering when they're going to get their chance.

However, Chaney chooses to turn a potential negative (too many guys, not enough playing time) into a major league positive. Few can manage players the way he can.

"I think we've got the experience and the understanding of how to do it," Chaney said. "Guys have heard or seen the reputation of last year's team and they've seen how it can work. It teaches them how to play hard all the time and to be unselfish. It gets them ready for the next level.

The way Chaney successfully sells it is come to Patterson, play against the best and move on more prepared.

"With us, if you don't play hard or play the right way, you just don't play and that helps the guys understand that once you get to college you have to bring it. Most high school players coast through practice but with us, you're playing against someone just as good as you. We use it as an advantage.

Chaney once referred to substitutions as line changes just like hockey. 15 players affords a coach a certain style and Patterson's is fast, attacking and they come in waves … and then five more guys get motioned in and continue the pressure.

"We feel it's the best way to play. It would be something if we slowed it down or didn't press but the way play; it's hard for teams to play against us. Most teams have 6 or 7 good players and we've got 15."

None of the 15 are more talented that Davon Jefferson. The 6-foot-8 kid from Cali was a Top 30 prospect last year and he's taking some ridiculous athleticism and expanded on it. In fact, most observers think he'll bolt Patterson for the pros, becoming essentially the first test case of the new collective bargaining agreement by the NBA. Jefferson, who is 19, will be draft eligible this spring because he meets the age requirements and will be a year removed from high school.

Chaney, who had James White and Shawne Williams (among others), sees a bright future for the Cali kid. "I think he can be as good as all of them and maybe even better. Once he really wants to be great he can do it. It's just a matter of when he wants to do it. I think he's got unlimited potential but he's got to work on some things."

"Some things" means, in no uncertain terms, becoming a stronger perimeter player and not just a dunk champion athlete. His development during this season will determine his draft status.

While Chaney has the luxury of coaching a future pro, Jefferson isn't the only kid in the starting five with firepower. Patterson will role out guard Tony Crocker (Oklahoma), wing Robert Sallie (undecided), center Hashim Bailey (Memphis) and either big man Toni Soda (Nebraska) or junior Dominique Sutton in the starting lineup.

Crocker can be a big time scorer for this team and so can the re-classified Dominique Sutton. The latter has a body like Rashad McCants and works the blocks as well as he does the wings.

Chaney's challenge will be finding a full time guy to transport the ball up and down the floor since he's lost the presence of D.C. native Ray Brewer at the point. Brewer is going to need minor surgery and will be out the first few weeks of the season.

Enter Lamar Falley. The Las Vegas native and combo guard is likely to be asked to stem the time until Brewer gets back to run the show. He'll get some help from Allen Iverson look-a-like Bobby Maze, who is committed to Delaware. Maze, more of a scoring threat, could benefit from the time spent running the show.

All in all, Chaney has quite a crew. Coming off the bench to provide perimeter pop will be Seketoure Henry and Jeremy Hazell. These guys are athletic, confident and can stroke it. Arizona-bound center Jordan Hill will benefit greatly from the chance to be play against strong insiders day in and day out and the thought of bringing a 6-foot-10 Pac-10 recruit off the bench should tell you all you need to know about this crew.

Chris Poelnitz, Luka Hoti, Tirrel Baines and Chris Knight will also receive plenty of shift changes, err rotations, in the system. Each is a mid-major prospect capable of making a contribution any time he's out there.

To make a long story short, with a scrimmage win under their belts against Oak Hill, Chaney's bunch might resurrect that 40-40 stat that Jose Canseco made famous back in the day. This team is capable of notching as many wins as it did last season while returning just one player (Sallie).

By the way, the town of Patterson is officially on the basketball map.

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