PDT Sports Contributor
The 2013-2014 season may not have finished with a national championship, but that does not mean the Huntington Prep Irish underachieved by any stretch of the imagination.
This fact was proven earlier this week as Huntington Prep finished the year as the third-ranked program in the final edition of the USA Today Super 25 Poll as the Irish finished behind traditional powerhouses Montverde Academy (Fla.) and Mater Dei (Calif.) in the poll on the strength of a 28-5 overall record.
The Irish, who won their quarterfinal matchup against La Lumiere Academy (Ind.) in the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament, fell to Montverde (the eventual national champions) in the semifinals of the tournament by a 55-51 count at Christ the King High School in New York City to officially end their season. Huntington Prep was the only team to hold a second half lead on Montverde in the entire tournament.
Meanwhile, the No. 3 ranking is the highest in school history for Huntington Prep, whose previous high came just last year at No. 7 in the 2013 Super 25. That roster included players such as 2014 NBA Draft prospect Andrew Wiggins, Florida State redshirt Xavier-Rathan Mayes and Arkansas sophomore-to-be Moses Kingsley among others.
This year’s version of the Irish will graduate three of the country’s top 100 players, including JaQuan Lyle (Oregon), Josh Perkins (Gonzaga), and Jalen Lindsey (Providence).
Lyle, who scored 41 points against Minford in a December 2nd matchup against the Falcons, has legitimate size for the shooting guard position (6-feet-5-inches) and can score in a variety of ways.
Perkins is the highest-ranked signee for Gonzaga since current Bulldog Gary Bell Jr. committed to the Bulldogs back in 2011. The Denver, Colorado native, who has a great blend of speed, strength, scoring ability and basketball IQ, will team with incumbent point guard Kevin Pangos and Bell to create a dynamic backcourt in the West Coast Conference.
Lindsey has a great ability to stretch the floor with his 6-foot-7-inch frame and his athleticism, combined with his overall defensive IQ, will make him a great defensive presence for Ed Cooley and the Providence Friars.
The tournament, however, also showcased a potential fan favorite to be across the state of Ohio as D’Angelo Russell was able to win his second national championship as a member of the Eagles.
Russell, who is the highest ranked Ohio State commitment in the Class of 2014, used the tournament to showcase his scoring ability in the waning moments of contests as the 6-foot-4-inch guard teamed with LSU commit Ben Simmons to take home the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament trophy.
The Louisville, Ky., native would go 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to grab the aforementioned 55-51 win over the Irish and followed that performance up by putting up an 16-point, 11-rebound effort against Oak Hill Academy (Va.) in the title game despite being riddled with four fouls in the contest.
Overall, Russell and Simmons were the stars on the nation’s top team as the duo combined to score 40 points and also combined to grab 23 rebounds against Oak Hill to push Montverde to a 28-0 record.
Even though the high school season has come to a close, one thing is for certain: the basketball careers of these players have not.