While reading up on Derrick Rose, I came across this video of Rose playing Oak Hill Academy, a school in tiny Mouth of Wilson, Virginia that’s legendary for its basketball players–the team Rose went up against included now-Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings. You could already see Rose’s game in his Simeon days: not just the incredible speed, but also his ability to use his frame and his strength to go up against bigger guys on the drive.
It reminds me of seeing Oak Hill when I was a kid. During the 1992-1993 season they had a team with Jerry Stackhouse (future NBA all-star), Jeff McInnis (a future journeyman NBA point guard), and Makhtar Ndiaye (whose NBA stint was very short lived). Stackhouse, at the time, was drawing comparisons to a young Michael Jordan.
They played some team from Roanoke, my hometown, which has produced about as many professional basketball players in its history–four, I think, including 1998 Bulls draft pick Curtis Staples–of whom the best is probably J.J. Redick or George Lynch. It’s not a basketball hotspot. (It’s not an anything hotspot.)
Oak Hill destroyed them. It wasn’t much of a game, but it was worth it: despite all the basketball I’d seen, I’d never fully appreciated just how good professional basketball players are, and how much bigger, faster, and smarter many of them are than mere mortals their own age. That’s clearest on the high school court.
Who’s your best bet right now? Probably Jabari Parker, the first freshman to play varsity at Rose’s old high school. He’s 6’8", 225, considering some of the top programs in the country, and just turned 16; ESPNChicago’s Jon Greenberg profiled Parker in February, who just led Simeon to its second consecutive state title.
Photographs: Charles Cherney/Chicago Tribune photo; Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune photo