2016 Dick’s Nationals Preview

Dick's Nationals

There are a number of story lines that headline the 2016 Dick’s Nationals event. The biggest headline in this year’s event has to be the race for number four. Both Montverde Academy (FL) and Findlay Prep (NV) have won three Dick’s Nationals titles and both teams have the firepower to win their fourth on April 2nd at Madison Square Garden.

Montverde Academy (FL) comes into the national tournament with a 25-1 record and are awarded with the top seed in this year’s event. The Eagles have won three consecutive Dick’s Nationals crowns but this year it will be a bit different as they will not have Ben Simmons to rely on. Montverde has a young but very talented team and along with Oak Hill Academy (VA) may have the deepest and most talented team in this year’s tournament.

There are plenty of questions heading into the national tournament as well. I will try to answer the most pressing questions of this year’s event, set up previews of each matchup, and tell you what players to watch for on ESPN’s family of networks or in the Big Apple for those traveling to the event.

The biggest questions surrounding the event are centered around national powerhouses Oak Hill Academy (VA) and La Lumiere (IN). Will Oak Hill Academy finally get over the hump and win their first Dick’s Nationals tournament? Steve Smith has over 1,000 career wins and seven mythical national titles, but he has yet to capture a Dick’s Nationals title. After reaching the title game in consecutive years, he will look to finally get over the hump at this year’s event. The question surrounding La Lumiere (IN) is, will they finally capture their first Dick’s Nationals win in their fourth trip to the event? La Lumiere faces off against St. Benedict’s who they lost to by three earlier in the season.

One question you might be asking yourself as you read this article is, where is the nation’s top team, Chino Hills (CA)? Unfortunately undefeated Chino Hills (CA) is ineligible to compete in Dick’s Nationals because of California Interscholastic Federation rules preventing teams from California from traveling to the event. Speaking of undefeated teams, you may also be asking yourself where 32-0 H. D. Woodson (DC) is in this year’s field. Although H. D. Woodson (DC) received an invitation to this year’s event they declined the invitation and were therefore excluded from the selection process.

Only six states have jumped on board with the idea of sending their affiliated schools to the Dick’s Nationals tournament, they are Arizona, Florida, Utah, Georgia, North Carolina independent, and South Carolina independent schools. Other teams allowed to participate include schools that are not associated with a state athletic association such as Oak Hill Academy (OH), Findlay Prep (NV), Montverde Academy (FL), and others.

Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s take a look at this year’s field from the top to the bottom starting off with the #1 seeded Montverde Academy Eagles. They will face off against North Carolina state champion #8 seed Providence Day in their first round matchup. The #2 seed this year will be the Oak Hill Academy Warriors who will take on a tough team out of Utah, #7 seed Wasatch Academy. Number three seed for this year’s event are the Findlay Prep Pilots, and they will be challenged against Connecticut commit Alterique Gilbert and the #6 seed Miller Grove (GA) who are coming off of their seventh state title in eight years. The four-five matchup is a rematch of a game that went down to the wire at the Beach Ball Classic in Delaware as #4 seeded St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ) will face a tough La Lumiere (IN) team who they beat 66-63 back in December.

Kevin Boyle looks to lead Montverde Academy (FL) to an unprecedented fourth straight Dick's Nationals title.

Kevin Boyle looks to lead Montverde Academy (FL) to an unprecedented fourth straight Dick’s Nationals title.

Montverde Academy (FL)

Tournament Seed: #1
Record: 25-1
Dick’s Nationals History: 6 appearances, 13-2 record (3x champion 2013, 2014, 2015)

Quality Wins:
Pebblebrook (GA), Wheeler (GA) twice, Westlake (GA), Huntington Prep (WV), Spain Park (AL), Westerville South (OH), St. Francis (GA), Seton Hall Prep (NJ)St. John’s (DC)Dematha Catholic (MD)Roman Catholic (PA)Sierra Canyon (CA), Wasatch Academy (UT), Roselle Catholic (NJ)
Chino Hills (CA) 83-82

Division I Commits:
2016 6′ 10″ C Micah Potter (Ohio State), 2016 6′ 3″ PG Howard Washington (Butler)
Other Notables:
2018 6′ 8″ PF Silvio De Sousa, 2018 6′ 9″ SF EJ Montgomery, 2016 6′ 10″ PF Bruno Fernando, 2017 6′ 9″ SF Sean Mobley, 2018 6′ 8″ PF Simi Shittu, 2019 6′ 6″ SG RJ Barrett

Montverde Academy comes into this year’s Dick’s Nationals as the top seed and will look to capture an unprecedented fourth consecutive Dick’s Nationals championship. This year will be a bit different than their last three; however they will not have Ben Simmons to carry them to the promise land this tournament. Although they will not have Simmons, they will have plenty of depth and talent across their roster. Montverde Academy has three top-20 2018 prospects on their roster in Silvio De Sousa, EJ Montgomery, and Simmi Shittu. Another superstar in the making is freshman sensation RJ Barrett who is in discussions as the nation’s top freshman. Although their most talented players may be underclassmen, their trio of senior stars Bruno Fernando, Micah Potter, and Howard Washington do a great job of taking on a leadership role as seniors. Kevin Boyle always has his team ready to play on the big stage, and this year is no different as he has this youthful group rolling into the main event.

Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith will look to capture his first ever Dick's Nationals title.

Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith will look to capture his first ever Dick’s Nationals title.

Oak Hill Academy (VA)
Tournament Seed: #2
Record: 41-1
Dick’s Nationals History: 7 appearances, 8-6 record

Quality Wins:
Providence Day (NC)Chaminade Prep (MO), Evelyn Mack (NC), Arlington Country Day (FL), Huntington Prep (WV), West Linn (OR), Dematha Catholic (MD)Paul VI (VA), Rainier Beach (WA), Sierra Canyon (CA)Mater Dei (CA), Jonesboro (GA), Hamilton Heights Christian (TN) twice
22ft Academy (SC) 70-67

Division I Commits:
2016 6′ 11″ C Rodney Miller (Miami), 2016 6′ 8″ SF Braxton Key (Alabama), 2016 6′ 7″ SF Mario Kegler (Mississippi State), 2016 6′ 9″ PF Khadim Sy (Virginia Tech), 2017 6′ 4″ SG Ty-Shon Alexander (Creighton)
Other Notables:
2017 6′ 2″ PG Matt Coleman, 2017 6′ 3″ SG Devontae Shuler, 2017 6′ 2″ PG Lindell Wigginton

Oak Hill Academy will look to finally get over the hump and add to Steve Smith’s legacy with their first Dick’s Nationals title. Despite losing key transfer Harry Giles before the season due to an ACL tear, Oak Hill Academy never skipped a beat as they have roared to a 41-1 record with quality wins over some of the nation’s top teams. Oak Hill Academy is the definition of deep this season as they have five players already committed to division one schools and three stellar junior guards who are surely high major players at the next level. This group has a great mixture of seniors and juniors as they are led by seniors Mario Kegler and Braxton Key on the wing; and 2017 guards Matt Coleman, Devontae Shuler, Lindell Wigginton, and Ty-Shon Alexander form the nations deepest backcourt. The Warriors have been battle-tested plenty over the year and are sure to come out with a chip on their shoulder in search of their first title.

Findlay Prep (NV) 

Tournament Seed: #3
Record: 28-1
Dick’s Nationals History: 8 appearances, 12-4 record (3x champion 2009, 2010, 2012)

Quality Wins:
Shadow Mountain (AZ), Wasatch Academy (UT), O’Gorman (SD), St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ), Victory Prep (TX)
Bishop Gorman (NV) 77-71

Division I Commits:
2016 6′ 4″ PG Skylar Mays (LSU), 2016 6′ 4″ SG Carlos Johnson (UNLV), 2017 6′ 8″ PF Tristan Clark (Baylor)
Other Notables:
2017 6′ 8″ PF P.J. Washington, 2017 6′ 8″ SF O’Shae Brissett, 2017 5′ 11″ SG Markus Howard, 2017 6′ 3″ SG Shakwon Barrett

The Findlay Prep Pilots are the only school to appear in each of the eight Dick’s Nationals tournaments. After a hot start in the tournament in which the Pilots won three of the first four NHSI tournaments, the Pilots have fallen off since the name change. Maybe it is something about the name Dick’s Nationals that doesn’t sit well with the Pilots, but they have not made it back to the championship game of the tournament since their NHSI championship over Montverde Academy (FL) in 2012. The Pilots will look to return to glory this year behind second year coach Andy Johnson. Although the Pilots didn’t have the toughest regular season schedule they have quality wins over two teams in this year’s tournament and have a very deep and talented roster headed by star juniors PJ Washington and Markus Howard. They will rely heavily on Howard to provide their scoring and PJ Washington to battle down low on the boards if they wish to compete for their fourth tournament championship.

St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ)

Tournament Seed: #4
Record: 31-1
Dick’s Nationals History: 4 appearances, 4-3 record

Quality Wins:
Upper Room Christian (NY) twice, Seward Park (NY), Westtown (PA)La Lumiere (IN), Bartow (FL), Huntington Prep (WV)
Findlay Prep (NV) 91-67

Division I Commits:
2016 6′ 9″ PF Arnaldo Toro (George Washington), 2016 6′ 3″ SG James Scott (Kennesaw State)
Other Notables:
2017 6′ 10″ PF Bourama Sidibe, 2016 6′ 4″ SG David Beatty, 2017 5′ 11″ PG Jayden Gaulden-Saddler, 2016 6′ 9″ PF Warren Williams

St. Benedict’s Prep may have been the biggest surprise of the year as they finished with a mark of 31-1 despite losing their best player from last year’s team top-5 2017 prospect Trevon Duval along with their best big man Daniel Mading. Losing Duval and Mading didn’t seem to affect this group at all as Archbishop Carroll (PA) transfer David Beatty stepped into the leadership role and took control of a team expected to struggle. Another key leader on this year’s team is Arnaldo Toro whose rugged play down low has willed the team to a number of victories on the season, the George Washington commit is a bruiser down low and never gives up on the play. He is a player you need on your roster to mix things up and get things done in the post. St. Benedict’s Prep may not be the most talented team in the event but they may have the biggest heart as they never give up no matter what the scoreboard may say. Watch out for this scrappy bunch to lock down on defense and win the 50/50 battles to stay close in any battle they are faced with.

La Lumiere (IN)

Tournament Seed: #5
Record: 24-3
Dick’s Nationals History: 4 appearances, 0-3 record

Quality Wins:
Spain Park (AL), Arlington Country Day (FL), Master’s Academy (FL), Fairfax (CA), Sanford (DE), Wheeler (GA)Prolific Prep (CA)Patrick School (NJ), Garfield Heights (OH), Lighthouse Christian (TN)
Sierra Canyon (CA) 53-48, St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ) 66-63, Wasatch Academy (UT) 80-71

Division I Commits:
2016 6′ 10″ C James Banks (Texas), 2016 6′ 4″ SG Brandon Cyrus (DePaul), 2016 6′ 7″ PF Algevon Eichelberger (DePaul)
Other Notables:
2017 6′ 10″ PF Jeremiah Tilmon, 2017 6′ 7″ SF Brian Bowen, 2017 6′ 0″ SG Isaiah Coleman-Lands, 2019 5′ 11″ PG Tyger Campbell

La Lumiere may have been the biggest snub from last year’s Dick’s Nationals event as they finished off the regular season with just two losses but didn’t make the cut as Wings Academy (NY) got the nod as the eighth seed. This season they have a completely different look as elite 2017 prospect Brian Bowen is the catalyst to a dynamic offensive attack. La Lumiere has one of the strongest front courts in this year’s field as Tex commit James Banks and top-30 prospect Jeremiah Tilmon anchor their front line. The big question for La Lumiere this season is their backcourt as they have a freshman point guard Tyger Campbell controlling the offense and are often stymied by the inconsistent shooting of guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands. If Campbell can run the offense without turning the ball over and role players such as Brandon Cyrus and Algevon Eichelberger can step up in the offense, La Lumiere could see themselves capturing their first ever win at the national event.

2016 PG Alterique Gilbert looks to lead his Miller Grove Wolverines to a first round upset of powerhouse Findlay Prep (NV).

2016 PG Alterique Gilbert looks to lead his Miller Grove Wolverines to a first round upset of powerhouse Findlay Prep (NV).

Miller Grove (GA)

Tournament Seed: #6
Record: 30-2
Dick’s Nationals History: First Appearance

Quality Wins:
Columbus (MS), Fremont (CA), Timpview (UT), Southwest DeKalb (GA) 3 times, Cedar Grove (GA), Lithonia (GA), Tucker (GA), South Paulding (GA), McIntosh (GA), Allatoona (GA)
Chaminade Prep (MO) 86-77, Lone Peak (UT) 73-71

Division I Commits:
2016 6′ 0″ PG Alterique Gilbert (Connecticut)
Other Notables:
2016 6′ 4″ SF Colin Young 2017 6′ 3″ SG Naquante Hardy 2016 5′ 11″ PG Aaron Augustin 2016 6′ 6″ PF Raylon Richardson 2016 6′ 3″ SG Aidan Saund

Miller Grove receiving a bid in this year’s event isn’t all that surprising, being rewarded with the six seed however had to raise a few eyebrows. Although Miller Grove is certainly deserving a spot in this year’s Dick’s Nationals tournament after capturing their seventh state title in eight years, they may be seeded a bit high. Miller Grove lacks the big wins that other teams in the tournament have but they will certainly be a tough out. Facing off against Findlay Prep (NV) in the first round will be a tough test for a team that is challenged in the size department. They will need a heroic performance from their senior star Alterique Gilbert to pull of the first round upset of perennial powerhouse Findlay Prep (NV). You can never count out a well coached team and that is exactly what Miller Grove is. It is no coincidence that Miller Grove has won seven of the previous eight 5A Georgia state title, coach Sharman White knows what buttons to press to get his team up for big games.

Wasatch Academy (UT)

Tournament Seed: #7
Record: 29-3
Dick’s Nationals History: First Appearance

Quality Wins:
Sacred Heart (AL), Sandy Creek (GA), Centennial (NV), Mountain View (AZ), Timpview (UT), Balboa City (CA), La Lumiere (IN), St. Joseph (IL), The First Academy (FL), Sagemont (FL), Summit Academy (UT), Weber (UT)
Lone Peak (UT) 68-65, Findlay Prep (NV) 79-61, Montverde Academy (FL) 83-62

Division I Commits:
2016 6′ 3″ PG Koby McEwan (Utah State)
Other Notables:
2018 6′ 7″ SF Emmanuel Akot, 2017 6′ 9″ PF Josip Vraknic, 2016 6′ 8″ PF Jackson Rowe, 2018 5′ 10″ PG Damion Squire

Wasatch Academy will be the first Utah team to ever participate in the Dick’s Nationals tournament and they are certainly battle tested this season. Wasatch Academy has the size to compete with the national powerhouses and with their star senior point guard Koby McEwan leading the way this team could cause some problems for Oak Hill in their first round matchup. Wasatch Academy certainly won’t be scared coming into this year’s tournament as they have already played three of the teams in the field, beating La Lumiere (IN) and taking losses against Findlay Prep (NV) and Montverde Academy (FL). Watch out for Wasatch Academy to make some noise in this year’s tournament after much debate on who the last few invitations would be sent out to. Wasatch Academy is certainly a deserving participant as they have challenged themselves with their national schedule and have been rewarded with a spot in their first ever national championship tournament. Don’t be surprised if they give Oak Hill all they can handle.

Providence Day (NC)

Tournament Seed: #8
Record: 30-3
Dick’s Nationals History: First Appearance

Quality Wins:
Wesleyan Christian (NC), High Point Christian (NC) twice, Greensboro Day (NC), Ravenscroft (NC) twice, David Crockett (TN), Pace Academy (GA), Wheeler (GA), Norcross (GA)
Oak Hill Academy (VA) 76-64, Mountain Mission (VA) 72-53, Greenforest Christian (GA) 59-58

Division I Commits:
2016 6′ 7″ PF Grant Williams (Tennessee)
Other Notables:
2016 6′ 8″ PF Isaac Johnson, 2016 6′ 6″ SF Josh Howard, 2018 6′ 1″ PG Devon Dotson, 2018 6′ 4″ SG Trey Wertz

Providence Day snuck into this year’s field with the eighth and final seed in the event. Although a perceived lock before the field was announced, Providence Day certainly wasn’t as much of a lock as previously thought. The first round match-up between themselves and Montverde Academy (FL) may be the last thing that they wanted but it will provide a great opportunity for 2018 PG Devon Dotson to prove himself against three top-20 sophomores on the Eagles. The quickly rising guard out of Carolina has recently received a scholarship offer from the North Carolina Tar Heels as he continues to rise up the rankings and shine in the big games. This event will be the ultimate test for him and other talented Providence Day players such as Tennessee commit Grant Williams and fellow big man Isaac Johnson. Both Williams and Johnson will need to have good showings against a powerful Montverde Academy front line in order to compete with the three time defending tournament champions.

My Predictions:

Making predictions for this year’s event may be the most difficult picks I have ever had to make for this tournament as the top teams are evenly matched, there is really no overwhelming favorite and there is no first round game that I would call a sure pick.

First Round:

La Lumiere (IN) over St. Benedict’s Prep by 2
Oak Hill Academy (VA) over Wasatch Academy (UT) by 7
Montverde Academy (FL) over Providence Day (NC) by 15
Findlay Prep (NV) over Miller Grove (GA) by 7

Semifinal Games:

Montverde Academy (FL) over La Lumiere (IN) by 8
Oak Hill Academy (VA) over Findlay Prep (NV) by 3

Championship Game:

Montverde Academy (FL) over Oak Hill Academy (VA) by 4


Thursday, March 31st on ESPNU

12:00 PM #4 St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ) vs #5 La Lumiere (IN)
2:00 PM #2 Oak Hill Academy (VA) vs #7 Wasatch Academy (UT)
4:00 PM #1 Montverde Academy (FL) vs #8 Providence Day (FL)
6:00 PM #3 Findlay Prep (NV) vs #6 Miller Grove (GA)

Championship Game Results:

2015: 2 Montverde Academy (FL) over 1 Oak Hill Academy (VA) 70-61
2014: 1 Montverde Academy (FL) over 6 Oak Hill Academy (VA) 71-62
2013: 2 Montverde Academy (FL) over 4 St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ) 67-65
2012: 1 Findlay Prep (NV) over 3 Montverde Academy (FL) 86-83
2011: 1 Montrose Christian (MD) over 2 Oak Hill Academy (VA) 71-64 2OT
2010: 2 Findlay Prep (NV) over 1 Montverde Academy (FL) 59-46
2009: 2 Findlay Prep (NV) over 1 Oak Hill Academy (VA) 74-66

2015 Ben Simmons goes up for the dunk on the break.

2015 Ben Simmons goes up for the dunk on the break.

Notable Alumni:

2009: Avery Bradley, Terrance Ross, Lamar Patterson, Lamont Jones, Mouphtauo Yarou

2010: Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, Doron Lamb, Roscoe Smith, Marshall Plumlee

2011: Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook, Myck Kabongo, Nick Johnson, Ty Johnson

2012: Anthony Bennett, Brandon Ashley, Justin Anderson, Winston Shepard, Michael Frazier

2013: Tyler Ennis, Kasey Hill, Dakari Johnson, Nate Britt, Devin Williams, Nigel Williams-Goss

2014: D’Angelo Russell, Kelly Oubre, Josh Perkins, Rashad Vaughn, Prince Ali, Shaqquan Aaron

2015: Ben Simmons, Jaylen Brown, Thomas Bryant, Dwayne Bacon, Allonzo Trier, Miles Bridges

Tournament History:

*Findlay Prep (NV): 8 appearances, 12-4 overall, 3 championships
*Oak Hill Academy (VA): 7 appearances, 8-6 overall
*Montverde Academy (FL): 6 appearances, 13-2 overall, 3 championships
Montrose Christian (MD): 5 appearances, 5-4 overall, 1 championship
*St. Benedict’s Prep (NJ): 4 appearances, 4-3 overall
*La Lumiere (IN): 4 appearances, 0-3 overall
Blanche Ely (FL): 3 appearances, 0-3 overall
Huntington Prep (WV): 2 appearances, 2-2 overall
Winter Park (FL): 2 appearances, 1-2 overall
Mountain State (WV): 2 appearances, 1-2 overall
Prime Prep (TX): 1 appearance, 1-1 overall
Dwyer (FL): 1 appearance, 1-1 overall
Boys & Girls (NY): 1 appearance, 1-1 overall
*Wasatch Academy (UT): First Appearance
*Miller Grove (GA): First Appearance
*Providence Day (NC): First Appearance

(*Indicates currently in field)

1 appearance with 0-1 record:

Rainier Beach (WA)
Northside Christian Academy (NC)
Sagemont (FL)
St. Frances (MD)
Friends Central (PA)
Pinewood Prep (SC)
Christ School (NC)
Charlotte Christian (NC)
John Carroll (MD)
United Faith (NC)
Coolidge (DC)
Ravenscroft (NC)
Wheeler (GA)
Greensboro Day (NC)
Wings Academy (NY)