Is Oak Hill Academy better than your average low-level D1 team? Paul Elkins debates his brother on this question:
Picture from TriCitiesSports.com
Last week, as we watched the lowly
Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, a team with only one victory in eleven
tries, get dominated by #11 Wisconsin, my brother and I engaged in a rather
My brother contended that the
nation’s #2-ranked high school team, Oak Hill Academy, would beat Mississippi
Valley State, if given the chance. Oak Hill, my brother argued, features five
players whom will play for elite level Division 1 programs next year, namely NC
State, Georgetown, Purdue, UCLA, and Memphis**. He reasoned that a team with so
much talent would simply outplay the lesser talented players of Mississippi
Valley State. If these Oak Hill players are good enough to play for elite level
colleges next year, he believed, they were good enough players to outplay the
likes of the MVSU players right now.
After watching Oak Hill defeat Miller Grove of Atlanta, another national high school power, I am now convinced that Mississippi Valley State, or any Division 1 team for that matter, would have their way with Oak Hill. What stood out to me in watching the Oak Hill / Miller Grove game was not so much the outstanding offensive potential and skills displayed - it was the lack of both defensive intensity and overall physicality as compared to what is displayed in a Division 1 men’s game. While Oak Hill’s players have more potential and individual talent than those on some Division 1 teams, the collective effort of a marginally talented Division 1 team would prevail over that of a high school team, even a supremely talented team like Oak Hill. Let me tell you why.
College teams are comprised of men who have dealt with the adversities inherent in playing college basketball - living away from home, practicing 20 hours a week, competing intensely to get playing time, strength training and conditioning relentlessly in the offseason, and playing under a coach whose very livelihood is at stake. Meanwhile, Oak Hill is a loose collection of talented individuals who coast to victory in most games, are not threatened for playing time, and do not invest in the game or their team nearly to the extent that Division 1 players do.
Division 1 teams spend the entire year together. The players live together, study together, and eat together. They are like a family. The players start out in spring with individual workouts and intense weightlifting and conditioning. Their seasoning continues into the summer, with most players competing in elite level leagues against collegiate and ex-collegiate players. The fall is comprised of intense practices in preparation for a grueling winter season.
The Division 1 lifestyle makes men out of boys. Even the Oak Hill prodigies will have to make the adjustment. It is the grind that makes diamonds from the coals. And it is this very grind that forms a team out of those individuals who invest the most and compete the hardest - a team that competes with discipline, pride, and intensity on both ends of the floor. Such a team would overwhelm a group of high profile high school players who have yet to learn how to truly compete on the defensive end, lack strength and power, and have not yet learned many of the nuances to thrive in a more cutthroat environment.
What it boils down to is this - Oak Hill academy is a talented group of boys, while MVSU is a lesser talented group of men. In the end, men will beat boys any day of the week.
** Oak Hill features the #22 prospect D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown), #55 Tyler Lewis (NC State), #74 Jordan Adams (UCLA), #90 Damien Wilson (Memphis), and #123 AJ Hammons (Purdue)