Fall tour: Hargrave Military Academy


CHATHAM, Va. -- Tis the season. Time to gas up the car and go out and see some players. Preferably good ones. Sept. 9 began the contact and evaluation period for the fall. In layman’s terms, it means college coaches can do in-home visits with prospects and watch open gyms involving prospects at every level.

For as long as I can remember, my contact period has begun at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., “The Grave” has between eight to 10 Division I candidates this time around and the strength of coach A.W. Hamilton’s roster is his multitude of wing players. His best backcourt is comprised of point guard Terry Rozier and shooting guard Anton Gill; both Louisville commitments and Rick Pitino was in the house.

On Monday, Gill looked good. He also looked wounded and he’s not 100 percent yet. When he’s at his best, Gill is one of the more dynamic scorers in the 2013 class. At Louisville, he’ll be asked to score and that means get to the rim or knock down the pull-up jumper he’s taken from once a weakness to a strength.

Rozier, well, he wasn’t supposed to be in Chatham. Rozier didn’t qualify and earned himself a one-year stint as Hargrave’s vocal leader. “I like Terry a lot,” small forward Donte Clark said. “He goes so hard on both sides.”

Clark, by the way, wasn’t involved in the workout having sustained one of the more glamorous injuries you’ll encounter. Over the weekend, Clark stumbled onto some Pop-Tarts and strawberries. Turns out, he had an allergic reaction to the berries. It wasn’t a big inconvenience because none of the schools on his list were in on Monday. Virginia Tech has an official visit set (Sept. 20) and so does Miami (Oct. 20). Missouri and Memphis check in on the Charlotte native as well.

Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik was in the house to see his future small forward Greg McClinton. When coaches come to open gyms like this one, they’re allowed to sit down with the players and chat about whatever. Bzdelik had McClinton's full attention and Pitino held court with Rozier and Gill.

The two distinguishing big men for Hargrave are different types of players. Neville Fincher is a Jersey kid who understands what the stakes are for him this season. “I have a lot of interest from schools that I don’t have offers from,” Fincher said. “I’ve got to get my grades right and progress. It's non-stop everyday.”

Fincher’s a specimen from a physical standpoint. There were times last summer where he looked like he was just about to take the next step with his game. The center knows that time is coming and his chances are fast approaching. He’d like Missouri to offer him. “I gotta work hard to get that one.”

Manning the other big man slot in the frontcourt is Nigerian Emeka Ikezu. While Fincher’s the Adonis, Ikezu’s the bulldozer. At 6-8 and in the vicinity of 235 pounds, there’s no mistaking him for anything but a block-occupying post man. A lot of the lower- and mid-level programs from Gardner Webb, UNC-Wilmington, Northeastern, Tennessee Tech, Niagara and Wofford were in the house and they couldn’t miss him.

It’s basketball season at one of America’s prep powerhouses. There’s no AC in the place, just hoops, basketballs and this month, a long line of interested college coaches.