COLUMBIA, S.C. — Huntington Prep (WV) jumped out quick and led wire-to-wire in a 93-62 victory over A.C. Flora (SC) Saturday night at the Bojangles Bash at Ridge View High School.
“Our energy was good. I thought they shared the ball well and came together a little more today,” Huntington Prep coach Arkell Bruce said. “Ten new guys. It’s going to take them awhile to gel. I’m complimentary of their patience and the way they’re coming together.
“They’re tougher than I thought. They showed toughness and played as a team.”
Florida commit Chase Johnson led Huntington Prep with 26 points and 11 boards, going a perfect 10-for-10 from the field.
The game featured a trio of Kansas 2018 and 2019 targets.
2018 guard Keldon Johnson, who’s weighing offers from Kansas, Louisville, Xavier, Virginia Tech and others, scored 13 on 4-of-7 shooting from the field, while grabbing seven rebounds.
“I like his aggressiveness. He puts pressure on the defense,” Bruce said. “He’s a grown man at 6-6, 220. He’s going to be the No. 1 shooting guard of 2018. I truly believe that. The sky’s the limit for him.”
Johnson found his teammates for five assists, but also turned the ball over eight times.
“I want him to take better care of the ball and show better decision making,” Bruce said. “He comes from a small town where everything fell upon his shoulders. Now he has to trust his teammates and come off the ball a little quicker.”
Chris Smith, a transfer to Huntington Prep from Ft. Worth County Day High School (TX), now stands 6-foot-9 and is comfortable at nearly every spot on the court. He’s smooth and skilled on the perimeter and impactful around the basket. He’s entertaining offers from Kansas, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Baylor and many others.
“Chris is about as skilled of a small forward as there is in 2018. Now, it’s just the intangible things. He’s learning,” Bruce said. “He comes from a really small school in Texas and played in an awful conference. It’s an adjustment for all of them. Hopefully after this weekend they will gel even more.”
Smith was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field Saturday night, finishing with 13 points, five boards and five turnovers.
“Decision making. He and Keldon both come from a place where the ball was in their hands all the time and they could do whatever they wanted,” Bruce said. “Here, there’s other players around them. It’s like they go through the ‘only child syndrome.’ They have to learn to share it.
“They’re very comfortable with the ball, but I just need them to understand that the easy play is always the right play.”
Huntington led 21-11 at the end of the first quarter, then exploded for a 15-2 run to begin the second.
“When you get down to a team like that, it’s hard to come back,” A.C. Flora coach Josh Staley said. “They’re too good and have too much size. Huntington is a very good team.”
Five-star 2019 SF Christian Brown scored 18 for Flora, showing an ability to attack the rim and create in transition. He was a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul stripe and had three steals. Brown’s many early offers include Kansas, Wake Forest, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Tennessee.
“He played with a really good motor tonight,” Staley said. “We have been working with him on defending and rebounding better, and we think he did those things. I like the fact he kept going and kept playing.”
Staley said Brown is still working to completely put his game together.
“I need him to continue to defend and rebound. He’s a young player, and young players don’t understand how the intangible are so important to your team being successful,” Staley said. “We’re getting him to understand that it’s important to rebound. It’s important to defend. He’s getting there.
“He loves basketball. He really enjoys playing and it’s a joy coaching him.”