Some prep schools are renowned for academic excellence, feeding universities with bright, well prepared, intellectual students. These institutions are highly respected for their positive influence on their pupils, providing them with the all of the necessary tools to become highly successful adults.
While Oak Hill Academy in Virginia is certainly one of these elite schools and offers a rigorous curriculum, it is more well-known for its boys’ basketball program.
Players with ambitions of being recruited by top-flight college programs often transfer to Oak Hill Academy for their final years of high school in hopes of being discovered. It is renowned for outputting high quality athletes and provides them with the national exposure needed to be discovered by the NCAA’s top programs.
Throughout the years, Oak Hill Academy has seen many notable alumni walk down its halls, and has educated some of the most well known NBA players in the last 20 years.
Some noteworthy graduates include:
- Ron Mercer
- Jeff McInnis
- Stephen Jackson
- Rajon Rondo
- Michael Beasley
- Ty Lawson
- Brandon Jennings
As impressive as this list is, I believe there are five better players that should comprise the All Oak Hill Academy Team.
Strickland is one, in a long line of legendary New York City point guards, and is often thought to have pioneered the modern, somewhat ballyhooed tradition. Born and bred in the South Bronx, he came up playing ball on the gritty playgrounds and demonstrated the machismo and flashy ball-handling abilities that have since come to define the “New York City point guard” as we know it today.
Strickland attended Oak Hill Academy for his senior year before committing to DePaul University, where he went on to lead the Blue Demons to four straight NCAA appearances from 1985-1988, including sweet 16 qualifications in 1986 and 1987.
He was drafted by his hometown Knicks in the 1988 NBA Draft under a blanket of controversy, since the team already had another New York legend in Mark Jackson manning the point guard position.
He would go on to play significant roles for the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trailblazers, and Washington Bullets (Wizards). He would also spend time with the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, and the Houston Rockets to conclude his NBA career.
Strickland played a total of 17 NBA seasons and averaged 13.2 ppg, 7.3 apg, and 1.5 steals. Those numbers are somewhat skewed due to his diminishing play in the waning years of his career. In his prime, Strickland was an elite NBA point guard averaging right around 18 points, 9 assists, and nearly 2 steals per game. He is often considered to be the best NBA player to never make an All-Star team.
Like many other players on this list, Smith transferred to Oak Hill Academy for his senior season to gain increased exposure. There, he solidified his reputation as an accomplished shot blocker and as a freakish athlete.
As a senior, Smith set a single-season school record for most points scored with 980. He led his Oak Hill team to a perfect 38-0 record and a number one national ranking. He averaged 25.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6 blocks, and 3 steals per game that season
Smith committed to play at Indiana, but then decided instead to declare himself eligible for the 2004 NBA Draft straight out of high school. He was subsequently selected with the 17th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks, and has played there every season since.
While maintaining his reputation as an astonishing shot-blocker, (Smith recently became the youngest player to ever reach 900 blocks at 23 years old) he is also developing his other skill sets to an All-Star level. He is arguably the most important catalyst behind the Hawks amazing start this season, averaging 16.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game.
While a veteran by NBA standards in his sixth season, he is still very young and has a nearly unlimited ceiling. He is already one of the most athletically gifted players in the league, and if he continues to evolve he should be in the discussion for top ten overall players very soon.
Durant was a basketball player from birth. He spent his early days on a successful youth basketball team that won multiple national championships, and later played AAU ball alongside Michael Beasley and Ty Lawson.
Like many others, Durant only played one year at Oak Hill Academy, but unlike most did not finish his high school career there, electing to leave following his junior year. He moved back to his home of Maryland for his senior year, but got some great exposure during his time at Oak Hill, playing on ESPN three times and attending the biggest tournaments in the country.
Following his graduation, Durant attended the University of Texas for one outstanding season (2006-2007), where he averaged 25.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, and nearly 2 blocks per game, and led his Longhorns to the NCAA tournament where they lost in the second round.
For his amazing season, Durant was named as the AP college player of the year becoming the first freshman to ever win the award. He also received the Naismith Award and the John R. Wooden Award for his excellence that season.
Deciding to forego his sophomore season, Durant declared himself eligible for the 2007 NBA Draft and was taken second overall by the Seattle Supersonics, who later became the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Durant has been exceptional during his short time in the NBA. He set a Sonics franchise rookie scoring record, averaging 20.3 points per game and he was awarded the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
Since that time, he has steadily improved his averages in nearly every statistical category. This season, he is averaging 27.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. The guy is a scoring machine and has all the physical attributes to become a stellar defensive player in time. He is widely considered to be a top 10 player in only his third season.
Jerry Stackhouse was considered to be a surefire NBA star ever since his sophomore year in high school. He was named North Carolina’s player of the year in 1991 and 1992 before ultimately transferring to Oak Hill Academy for his senior year, where he led them to an undefeated season and a national championship.
Stackhouse attended the University of North Carolina, where he paired with Rasheed Wallace for two outstanding seasons. As a sophomore, he was named a First Team All-American by the Associated Press and College Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated. That year, he led the Tarheels in scoring at 19.2 ppg, rebounding at 8.2, and steals with a total of 50.
Stackhouse declared his eligibility for the 1995 NBA draft after his sophomore season. At the time, comparisons were being made between him and another all-time Tarheel great. Identical in height (6’6’’), possessing a similar body build, and displaying a game reminiscent to Michael Jordan, these comparisons made some sense at the time. Stackhouse even went third overall in the draft, exactly like Mike.
Drafted by the 76ers where he played only a season and a half before being dealt to the Detroit Pistons. Stackhouse became a star with the Pistons and by his third full season with the team, was averaging 29.8 points per game.
He would go on to spend time with the Washington Wizards, who he led in scoring during the 2002-2003 season at 21.5 ppg, and the Dallas Mavericks. During his last year in Washington, Stackhouse played in only 26 games while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. After being traded to Dallas, he never did play another full season, but adapted his game accordingly to become a valued sixth man.
Over his 16 year career (and there is debate as to whether he is actually done), Stackhouse averaged 18.4 points, 3.7 assists, and 1.0 steal per game. Injuries held him back from becoming the player that he could have become, but nonetheless he had a long and productive NBA career.
Anthony might end up being the most storied Oak Hill Academy alumnus of all time by the time he is finished playing.
Born in Brooklyn, Anthony’s family moved to Baltimore when he was eight year old. He commuted to a catholic high school for his first three years, where he became the Baltimore Catholic League player of the year. He transferred to Oak Hill Academy for his senior season, where he became a McDonald’s All-American and led his team to a 32-1 record.
Anthony then went on to attend Syracuse University for one amazing year, where he led the Orangemen to a NCAA National Championship and was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
The Denver Nuggets selected Anthony with the third overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. In his six seasons since joining the Nuggets, Anthony has averaged 24.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. He led the Nuggets to arguably their finest season in 2008-2009, ultimately making it to the Western Conference Finals before finally losing to the World Champion Lakers in six games.
Anthony is a superstar on the rise and is having a MVP caliber season. He currently leads the league in scoring at 30.7 points and is widely regarded as one of the most potent scorers in recent memory. He could be considered a top 50 player of all time when all is said and done.