Prep Tour: Hargrave Military

CHATHAM, Va. – Hargrave Military Academy was the place to be last Saturday. The first day of the fall open period meant college recruiters descended en masse to the school with the hope of making an impression on some of the top available players in the country.

Saturday marked the first day college recruiters could be out watching and briefly visiting with prospective basketball recruits. For Hargrave Military Academy, one of the nation's prep powerhouses located a tick over the Va.-N.C. border, a big crowd gathered in the gym to see Coach Kevin Keatts' collection of talent.

How big? Well, every coach in the gym remarked how impressive the crowd was. Normally on the first day there's a lot of traffic but this day was different because of the ominous presence of a handful of head coaches.

Illinois' Bruce Weber was in town and he was joined by Wake Forest's Skip Prosser, Arkansas coach Stan Heath, Virginia Tech skipper Seth Greenberg, Clemson main man Oliver Purnell and Liberty's Randy Dunton.

"This is the most head coaches and actually in the 7 years I've been here this is the most coaches that have been in the gym," Keatts remarked.

OSU's John Groce & Keatts
With over 20 coaches sitting courtside, it became obvious: Hargrave has players and they have the best kind of players this time of year: uncommitted ones.

"This year we only have 2 guys committed – Jeffrey Allen to Virginia Tech and Eric Wallace. This year we have a lot of guys who are recruitable."

He's not kidding. Keatts has at least 4 players who are uncommitted and presently being recruited at the high-major level. When recruiting season ends and its time to sign on the dotted line, Hargrave may wind up with 11 players who pen D-I scholarships.

As far as the basketball goes, expectations are high for the Tigers. Keatts has an interesting mix of players. The scoring and production is going to be more spread out this season than maybe it's been in year's past. It'll be that way because Keatts has a lot of horses to keep happy.

"I think we have different guys. Last year it was different because we had Vernon Macklin and some different pieces. This year we've got several different guys that can lead us in scoring on any given night.

"Certainly Dorenzo Hudson ( No. 51) can fill it up. Jeff Allen is talented and Eric Wallace is getting back to the form that he showed as a freshman and sophomore. Jordan Crawford, he's going to lead us and push the ball up the floor. Mike Scott is just as skilled as any big guy in the country."

From watching the workout and evaluating the roster, it's Crawford who probably has the most pivotal job on the team. He's the guy Keatts will task with manning the controls, running the point and keeping everyone happy. The added high-level experience Crawford will get at Hargrave will push him to expand his game and become a leader on this team.

Keatts and a handful of players are already citing Crawford as the player they've been pleasantly surprised with so far. "I think Jordan Crawford (is the biggest early surprise) because he's a guy can play multiple positions," Keatts said. "He scores a little better than I thought he could and actually we're going to play him at the point. He's 6-foot-4 and he can handle the ball and rebound and he's just as athletic as any wing."

Keatts' wing options are plentiful. Don't be surprised if Hudson winds up leading this club in scoring. He was the most impressive bucket maker on Saturday as his confidence level seemingly has grown since the summer. He'll knock down rainbows 3s and can get himself to the rack where he's an improved finisher.

Wallace ( No. 95) will greatly benefit from the style of play and emphasis in individual instruction when it comes to improving his jumper.

Jeff Allen Meets With The Hokies Staff
He too looked strong at the workout and his unique athletic ability, especially in transition, will be a focal point in Hargrave's transition game.

The team's most talented and strongest player is Allen ('s top post grad player). One of the great spring surprises, Allen is the anchor for this team's frontline. He'll be the go-to-guy inside but it's not like he's got to go it alone. Jeremy Jacob and Mike Scott provide ample interior options. Both are high-major recruits. Jacob ( No. 85, 2006), the former 5-A player of the year in Louisiana, will be much better known a month from now.

"I think he got caught down there in Louisiana where a lot of people don't know focus on basketball," Keatts said. "He's a four-three but by the time he's a sophomore in college he's probably going to be a good 3-man."

Off the bench Keatts will turn to face-up forward Noah States, a young man with a real touch to his game. Warren Edney, a forward, will be another mid-level energy guy Keatts can turn to and once Ben Finney returns from the gridiron the bench deepens. Chris Long, a guard and strong student, gives Keatts another backcourt option.

Nathan Campbell out of Cary, N.C., is trying to turn himself into a D-I player while forward Cameron Payne and guard Eric Schiele compete for backcourt time.

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