The annual Oak Hill-Hargrave scrimmage is about the players and after two hours of hoops it's clear that both programs have some guys who can go.
Now, the final score is something that George W. Bush and John Kerry could spend at least a few minutes debating since there really were multiple winners and at least three ways to look at the scores. Oak Hill defeated Hargrave 52-40 in the first 20 minutes of action. In the second 20 minutes, the scoreboard was zeroed out and Hargrave came out on top 50-45. Technically, Oak Hill won the two halves by a score of 97-90 but the teams approached the scrimmage as two separate halves, not a complete game.
Both coaches learned something about their teams and their personnel. For example, Oak Hill is going to need some consistent play inside once it gets to the meat of its schedule. Hargrave could use a presence to emerge at the point. Regardless, these two teams have talent abound.
The two best players on the floor Tuesday belonged to Smith and they're both juniors. Forward Kevin Durant and point guard Tywon Lawson could prove to be one of the most prolific duos in the program's history if Tuesday's performance is any indicator.
Scout.com ranked Durant No. 7 in his class after the summer and frankly, that's about 5 spots too low. He hit up Hargrave for a game-high 33 points and he did it without making a 3-pointer which is one of his better attributes.
At this point, Durant is one of those kids colleges will recruit but only in case an age limit gets adopted by the NBA. He's that talented and he's improving. Though not nearly as strong as he will be or needs to be, was more confident offensively and defensively in the paint. He opened play by blocking Sam Young's shot and then proceeded to score in a variety of ways. He drove it from the wing, worked his way inside and ran the floor with athleticism and purpose. All of this in a 6-9-plus, 16-year old body.
Durant's good buddy Lawson also made a statement. When it comes time to talk about the best PGs in the class, the names of Conley and Augustin begin the conversation. Not too far off in the distance is Lawson, who deserves mention among the best handful (or trio?) of points in the class.
All he did against Hargrave was go for 27 points on 10-for-19 from the field. Toss in five assists and 5 steals and it was a good afternoon. What was more impressive than Lawson's offensive outburst was his commitment and success on the defensive end. He turned the ball over twice and each time he did was able to come up with a steal on the same possession to get the ball back. He's only 5-foot-11 but he's already developed a floater that he comfortably uses in traffic.
As good a defensive performance as Lawson had, Jamont Gordon's wasn't far behind. For the first 20 minutes, Gordon locked up Shane Clark, frustrated Sam Young and guarded with intensity. He would finish with 19 points but it was his 8 assists that really stood out. His overall shot selection is going to need some honing because he's not against chucking up the ill-advised "3" but when he defends and passes the way he did, plus he made 8-for-10 from the line you take the good with the bad.
If it weren't for A.D. Vassallo in the first half, Hargrave would have been in big time trouble. With Clark and Bilal Benn struggling, Vassallo (25 points) came out smoking. He made deep 3's – at least 5 in the first 20 minutes – and stroked shots off curls. This future Richmond Spider is a probably all-league guy in the A-10 when it's all said and done. This skilled perimeter marksman will prove to be on the best the Spiders have had on the wings in a long time.
It seemed like Oak Hill had all the energy in the first 20 minute half. They guarded, ran and played extremely hard. In the second 20 minutes, Hargrave was able to use its depth to lean on Oak Hill and wear them down a bit, especially inside.
Thanks to Sam Young, the Tigers had the upper hand in the second half. Young, who was challenged by his coach to bring it, responded. Best when he's slashing and using his athleticism under the basket, Young finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds by our count. Seven rebounds were offensive. He's a pogo-stick on the glass and carried Hargrave for the period.
Both of these programs have the talent – like they always do – to win a ton of games. It was great to see good prospects already performing at a high level and it's only October.
"The best thing that ever happens to us is this scrimmage," Keatts said. "It's early and you get to see the kids play. You get to go back to the kids and tell them all day long what they did and didn't do."
Oak Hill Notes
K.C. Rivers sat out with a major ankle injury. Rivers said he could be back in mid-December. … Bamba Fall and David Palmer had non-descript outings. … Eric Devendorf went on an early run of 3's in the first half but was quiet by his standards. …
Shane Clark scored 12 points and had 7 rebounds but never really got into the flow of the game. … Hargrave's backcourt of Bilal Benn and Tommie Liddell combined for just 6 points. Benn took only 3 shots and had just 2 points. … Jerome Johnson displayed a renewed spirit inside and completed a number of skilled post moves to finish with 16 points. …