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Get to know the eight boys' basketball teams selected to play in the inaugural ESPN RISE National High School Invitational in Bethesda, Md., on April 3-5. For more information on the event, click here. Check out the bracket and TV information.
|3||Marco Porcher||6-3/170||Guard||Col 5|
|42||Baye Moussa Keita||6-11/205||Center||Junior|
Head coach: Steve Smith
Keith "Tiny" Gallon
Gallon, an Oklahoma recruit and McDonald's All-American, has led the Warriors with 16.3 points and 10 rebounds per game. At 320 pounds, Gallon is deceptively fast up and down the court and nimble around the basket.
The Warriors run their offense through Lamb, who averaged 20 points per game during the last month of the season -- five up from his season average. Lamb, who also averages five assists, has a talented mid-range game.
Lamont "Mo Mo" Jones
Jones' coming-out party came at the Iolani Classic in Hawaii, when he scored 40 points in a double-overtime championship win over Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.). The Virginia Tech recruit averages 13.5 points and 5.5 assists per game.
ROAD TO NHSI
The Warriors have managed to go undefeated while facing one of the toughest schedules during coach Steve Smith's tenure. Oak Hill has beaten eight nationally ranked teams, including Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) and St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.). In addition to Gallon and Jones, the Warriors feature three other Division I commits: Syracuse-bound junior Baye Moussa Keita, West Virginia-bound senior Bryon Allen and UNC-Asheville-bound senior Austin Alecxih.
• Notable alumns include Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony (Class of 2002), Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (Class of 2004), Golden State Warriors forward Stephen Jackson (Class of 1996), Dallas Mavericks swingman Jerry Stackhouse (Class of 1993) and NBA prospect Brandon Jennings (Class of 2008), who bypassed college to play overseas.
• Since 1978, more than 140 Warriors have gone on to play Division I basketball.
• Although the Warriors travel across the country competing in tournaments, they are all business during road trips and follow the motto, "Get in, get a win and get out."
Head coach: Michael Peck
A McDonald's All-American, Bradley is the nation's No. 7 player in the ESPNU 100. The Texas recruit has come up big in every major tournament this season, earning three tourney MVP honors while averaging 19 points per game overall.
Thompson transferred from St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) midway through the season to team up with fellow Texas recruit Avery Bradley. Thompson scored 17 in his first game with Findlay Prep, a win over Impact Basketball Academy (Las Vegas).
Joseph has already garnered offers from schools like Memphis and Kansas. The junior averages 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. During the past six games, he's made 16 of 26 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
ROAD TO NHSI
Founded in 2006, Findlay Prep has quickly established itself as a basketball powerhouse that attracts stars from across the globe and dominates tournaments around the nation. The Pilots biggest win this season came against nationally ranked Rice (New York, N.Y.) in the championship of the Rock Holiday Classic. Playing a national schedule, the Pilots have gone 30-0.
• Coach Michael Peck came to Findlay Prep from UNLV, where he spent three years working under legendary coaches Charlie Spoonhour and Lon Kruger as the men's basketball video coordinator.
• Findlay Prep is a privately funded basketball academy, which makes its home at The Henderson International School.
|44||T. Jordan Omogbehin||7-1/260||Center||Sophomore|
Head coach: Stu Vetter
Yarou came to the United States from the West African Republic of Benin in January 2008. In his only full season with Montrose, Yarou has averaged (TK). Rated the nation's No. 27 recruit in the ESPNU 100, Yarou has signed with Villanova.
Armwood, a Villanova recruit who's rated the nation's No. 36 recruit in the ESPNU 100, is an explosive leaper with an improve midrange jumper. He averaged (TK) per game this season.
Ross was named Oregon's Class 5A Player of the Year as a sophomore before transferring to Montrose for his junior season. Ross, the nation's No. 41 recruit in the ESPNU Super 60, averaged (TK).
ROAD TO NHSI
Montrose Christian started the 2008-09 season ranked No. 19 in the preseason ESPN RISE FAB 50. Since then, the Mustangs climbed 10 spots to No. 9 by going 19-1 with their only loss coming to national-power Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in double overtime of the Iolani Classic championship. Montrose Christian's signature win came against nationally ranked Fairfax (Los Angeles, Calif.).
• Notable alumns include Oklahoma City Thunder swingman Kevin Durant (Class of 2006) and Denver Nuggets swingman Linas Kleiza (Class of 2003).
• Vetter is in his 33rd year coaching overall. Since he took over Montrose in 1999, the Mustangs have been one of the nation's top programs. Vetter is a two-time USA Today National Coach of the Year.
• Isaiah Armwood is president of his senior class. Armwood says he initially ran for office for fun, but when everyone started voting for him he decided to take it seriously.
|00||John Paul Kambola||6-10/235||Center||Junior|
Head coach: Dan Hurley
Jackson, a Rice recruit, has been the Gray Bees' go-to scorer. A hardnosed defender who also has a deadly shot from the corner, Jackson averaged 13 points, four rebounds and four assists per game.
In his lone year at St. Benedict's, Patterson has filled the rebounding void left by the departure of Samardo Samuels, who's now at Louisville. Patterson, a Pittsburgh recruit, averages nine points, eight rebounds and 2.5 steals per game.
As a freshman last year, Kabongo played the role of a distributor. But this season he's turned into scorer. Kabongo, a Canada native who has already committed to Texas, averages 10.5 points, 4.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game.
ROAD TO NHSI
St. Benedict's started the season by winning its first 19 games. The season's highlight came when the Gray Bees captured the Nike Invitational in Puerto Rico. Later in the season, St. Benedict's has made news when star forward Tristan Thompson transferred to Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) midseason. Still, the Gray Bees' small-ball lineup is one of the quickest in the country.
• Notable alumns include Denver Nugget guard J.R. Smith (Class of 2004) and University of Louisville forward Samardo Samuels (Class of 2008)
• Head coach Dan Hurley is all business on road trips. In fact, when the Gray Bees arrived in Benton, Ky., for December's Marshall County Hoop Fest at 9:30 a.m., they went right to practice at 11 a.m.
• St. Benedict's is more than 130 years old and its motto, which is inscribed on the walls of the school buildings, reads: "Whatever hurts my brother, hurts me."
Head coach: Mark Karcher
Vinson is the Panthers' most dominant player. Vinson, who averages 25 points and 11 rebounds per game, thrives off isolation and has confidence to take over a game. The All-Conference first team selection signed with Loyola Marymount.
Sparrow is a superb pure shooter who has made nearly 50 percent of his 3-point attempts. Sparrow, who's averaging 13 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, was an All-Conference second team selection. He has committed to Richmond.
Holmes, who's been on varsity since his freshman year, is a smart player with a nifty mix of moves and ball fakes. The All-Conference second team selection averages 13 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Head coach: Jason Polykoff
Morris earned team MVP honors this season. The agile 240-pounder has soft hands, can bang inside and can shoot from the outside. Morris, who's averaging 12 points and eight rebounds per game, is being recruited by Siena, Providence and Penn State.
Coleman averages a game-high 13.3 points per game to go with 4.2 rebounds. He scored 18 in an upset win over nationally ranked Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) to earn MVP honors of December's Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic.
In his first year with Friends' Central after transferring from Penn Charter (Philadelphia, Penn.), Robinson is the team's version of Shawn Marion. Robinson is a stat-filler who averages 12.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
ROAD TO NHSI
Coming off an overtime loss in the Friends Schools League championship, the Phoenix needed four games in five days to take home the Pennsylvania Independent Schools title. Coach Jason Polykoff says his team was the most focused and intense they had been all season during that run. And it paid off. In the final game of the tournament, Friends' Central rallied to beat Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) in overtime, 60-58.
• The Phoenix's motto is "Family," which is printed on the back of the team T-shirts. Coach Polykoff describes his players as a "bunch of jokesters" off the court and says senior Peter Chawaga is hilarious at standup routines.
• The end of Friends' Central's come-from-behind overtime win in the PIS tournament title game can be watched on YouTube by typing in "Friends Central" in the search box.
Coach: Rob Fulford
Cottrill has already established himself as one of the nation's top scorers. He averages 26 points and four assists per games. Cottrill, who has committed to West Virginia, is rated No. 59 in the ESPNU Super 60.
Thomas gives Mountain State a versatile weapon who can play both inside and out. He's rated No. 56 in the ESPNU Super 60 and is considering Kansas, Xavier, Syracuse, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida and Oklahoma State
Kilicli has experienced a meteoric rise on the U.S. prep scene since moving from Turkey last summer. Rated the nation's No. 28 recruit in the ESPNU 100, Kilicli signed with West Virginia. He averages 15 points and nine boards per game.
ROAD TO NHSI
Mountain State went through a difficult schedule, picking up victories over several elite teams such as Pinewood Prep (Summerville, S.C.). Two of the Falcons' six losses came against ESPN RISE FAB 50 No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) while another was to No. 6 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.). A battle-tested squad with the inside-outside play of Deniz Kilicli, Noah Cottrill and Shaquille Thomas, Mountain State could surprise NHSI opponents. Coach Rob Fulford says to keep an eye on freshman Najee Whitehead.
• The Falcons' roster includes two players from Turkey, three from Canada and one from France.
• Shaquille Thomas' uncle is NBA veteran Tim Thomas.
|3 Junior||Brett Alexander||5-8/145||Guard||Col 5|
Coach: Pat Eidson
Jennings, a McDonald's All-American, earned his stripes this season by improving his ball-handling skills and perimeter shooting (41 3-pointers). The Clemson recruit averages 20.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.
Manigault is a triple-double threat every game. The All-State point guard has a 7-foot wingspan. The Wichita State recruit averages 14.1 points, 6.4 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 steals per game.
Bogdan's season scoring average of 11.9 points doesn't tell the whole story. In his last eight games, he's averaging 18 points. Bogdan, who has made 71 3-pointers on the season, is being recruited by Quinnipiac.
ROAD TO NHSI
Pinewood Prep opened its season with a tournament title at the Tabernacle Academy Thanksgiving Classic, defeating Georgia's defending AAAA champ, Columbia (Decatur, Ga.). Pinewood then advanced to the final round of its next two tournaments, the Chick Fil-A Classic and Roundball Classic. On a higher note, the team won its fourth straight state championship, knocking off Porter-Guad (Charleston, S.C.), 71-58.
• Milton Jennings is the school's first McDonald's All-American.
• After playing St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.), the Panthers stayed one extra day and toured New York City. The team visited Times Square, Wall Street, ground zero and the Empire State Building.
• Coach Pat Eidson's son, Chuck, played for South Carolina from 1999-2003. Chuck now plays professionally overseas for a team in Lithuania.