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Transfers To Impact The FAB 50

Transfer Rashad Vaughn is one of the main reasons Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) should remain in the thick of the Student Sports FAB 50 No. 1 ranking hunt despite its third head coach in three years. Photo: Scott Kurtz

Transfer Rashad Vaughn is one of the main reasons Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) should remain in the thick of the Student Sports FAB 50 No. 1 ranking hunt despite its third head coach in three years. Photo: Scott Kurtz

As we prepare our coverage of the 2013-14 season, we take a look at some key transfers who will impact the preseason pecking order of the Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings.

The 2012-13 season ended with our preseason No. 1 team, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) capturing the mythical national title. It wasn’t a smooth ride for the Eagles, as they overcame two close losses to earn the program’s first No. 1 rankings finish. It was the first time since the 1999-2000 season that the nation’s No. 1 ranked team had two losses on its resume.

This upcoming season figures to be just as topsy-turvy with player and coaching movement creating a wide open race for the mythical national title.

For the second consecutive season, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), which handed Montverde Academy one of its losses, will be led by a new coach. Todd Simon, now a UNLV assistant, was replaced by former assistant Jerome Williams. In his only season as head coach, Simon guided the Pilots to the No. 3 ranking and a 35-1 mark, as the program enjoyed a 54-game winning streak that was snapped in the National High School Invitational semifinals by St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.).

Williams, a former Georgetown University standout known as “The Junk Yard Dog”, has a lofty coaching standard to live up to and will have to do it without the services of Student Sports All-American Nigel Williams-Goss, the cornerstone of last year’s team who finished his Findlay Prep career with a 127-7 won-loss record. Despite not having Williams-Goss at his disposal, the cupboard is hardly bare for the Pilots despite graduating nine seniors off last year’s team.

Here are the key newcomers to the Pilots’ program:

Rashad Vaughn from Robbinsdale Cooper (New Hope, Minn.) 6-4 SG 2014
Kelly Oubre from Bush (Fort Bend, Texas) 6-6 SF 2014
Craig Victor from St. Augustine (New Orleans, La.) 6-8 PF 2014
Horace Spencer from William Tennent (Warminster, Pa.) 6-9 PF 2015
Derryck Thornton Jr. from Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 6-1 PG 2016

The Pilots also continue their pipeline from Canada by bringing in another 2016 prospect to join Thornton Jr. in 6-6 Justin Jackson from Eastern Commerce (Toronto), plus 6-5 2015 prospect Dillon Brooks from Father Henry Carr in Etobicoke just outside of Toronto. With Canadian Anthony Bennett recently going No. 1 in the NBA Draft, Findlay Prep will likely continue to be an attractive option for young players from north of the border.

Another key addition, and the one that might surprise some high school basketball followers the most this season among elite teams, is 6-foot-8 2014 prospect Jonah Bolden. He was Australia’s most talented player at 2013 adidas Nations and with his combination of length, athleticism and solid shooting, was one of the event’s top performers from any country. Obviously, Findlay Prep will have the talent to compete for the No. 1 ranking but chemistry is the current question mark.

Speaking of Australia, the high school basketball community is going to get its first prolonged look at 6-8 2015 wing prospect Ben Simmons. He enrolled at Montverde Academy in time to play in last season’s NHSI, but this season he’ll have the experience of a complete year under the tutelage of coach Kevin Boyle. Simmons will be a major cog in Montverde Academy’s title defense and could be one of the best players in all of high school basketball by the end of the season.

Montverde Academy lost McDonald’s All-Americans Dakari Johnson and Kasey Hill, not to mention the underrated Devin Williams, but Boyle has brought in some newcomers to help returning underclass All-American D’Angelo Russell and Simmons. Makinde London, a 6-9 2014 prospect from Summit (Spring Hill, Tenn.) will help shore up Boyle’s frontcourt while 6-0 2014 prospect Ahmaad Rorie from Lincoln (Tacoma, Wash.) will help ease the loss of Hill in the backcourt.

St. Benedict’s, the runner-up to Montverde Academy at the NHSI and in the final 2012-13 FAB 50 rankings, is losing 6-3 2015 prospect Isaiah Briscoe to Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.). The Lions captured their first New Jersey Tournament of Champions title last season and the addition of Briscoe will help ease the loss of 6-6 Malachi Richardson, who transferred to Trenton Catholic (Trenton, N.J.) for his junior season.

After capturing the 2012 FAB 50 national title with a 44-0 mark, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) had a 33-6 campaign last year and finished with a No. 23 ranking. That might of been a program defining season for many, especially after losing to Montverde Academy in overtime in the quarterfinals of the NHSI. For Oak Hill, however, it represented its lowest final ranking since the 1987-1988 season, when it failed to crack the top 20 of the first ever final National Prep Poll national rankings, which later was morphed in the FAB 50.

Veteran coach Steve Smith is “rebuilding” around the following transfers:

Tony Anderson from Marian-Franklin (Columbus, Ohio) 6-8 SF 2015
Shelton Mitchell from Cuthbertson (Waxhaw, N.C.) 6-3 PG 2014
Trevor Manuel from Sexton (Lansing, Mich.) 6-8 PF 2015
Caleb Martin from Davie (Mocksville, N.C.) 6-7 SF 2014
Cody Martin from Davie (Mocksville, N.C.) 6-7 SF 2014

La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) beat Oak Hill last season and is looking to become a permanent fixture near the top of the national rankings. Coach Alan Huss does have a building block up front in 6-11 2014 prospect Jonathon Wilkins, but is eyeing a legitimate run at the mythical national title with the addition of some talented pieces around him. The transfers include:

Jalen Coleman from Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.) 6-4 SG 2015
Joseph Toye from Whitney Young (Chicago) 6-6 SF 2015
Joseph Anderson from Yates (Houston) 6-2 PG 2015
Alex Olesinski from Roswell (Roswell, N.M.) 6-9 SF 2015
Sadiq Inuwa from Yates (Houston) 6-6 PF 2014

A team that split games last season with Oak Hill Academy — Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) — is beginning a new era with veteran coach Stu Vetter moving on after 14 seasons. Montrose Christian finished 19-5, but is losing holdovers Therence Mayimba, a 6-7 2014 prospect, and Justin Robinson, a 6-foot 2015 prospect. The duo decided to transfer to St. James (St. James, Md.). Two members of Vetter’s old staff at Montrose Christian are now over at St. James, including new head coach Dan Prete.

Vetter is a long time advocate of national high school rankings and an end-of-season tournament that decides the national championship on the court, so it will be interesting to see the development of Montrose Christian under new coach Bryan Bartley. He was previously the girls coach at Hebron Christian Academy (Dacula, Ga.) and also has prior experience coaching boys on the college and high school level.

A Montrose Christian newcomer who will also be making his debut on the big-time high school basketball circuit is 6-3 Allonzo Trier. A nationally-known prospect since middle school, the junior guard was home schooled last year and played for NOAH Homeschool (Oklahoma City, Okla.).

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