It was tempting earlier this month to give the nod to Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)
for the No. 1 preseason national ranking, but three head coaches in three years is typically not a recipe for success at any level of basketball.
Jerome "Junkyard Dog" Williams of Pistons and Raptors fame steps in to replace Todd Simon, who left after one year as head coach to take a position at UNLV. Michael Peck led Findlay Prep to an incredible 157-8 record the previous five seasons before taking over the NBDL's Idaho Stampede.
The transition should be eased with plenty of familiar faces still on staff. Williams is in his fifth year with the program while assistants Andy Johnson, Brett Price and Michael Smalley are all mainstays.
The early returns have been encouraging. Findlay Prep gets an early start (first game was Nov. 2), already amassing a 7-0 record and averaging 104.8 points per game.
"I think we have high-character kids that consistently push themselves to get better. Those characteristics really stand out about this group so far," assistant coach Andy Johnson told MaxPreps earlier this month.
The talent level remains as high as it has ever been at Findlay – a program that has lost just two games in the last two seasons.
Guards Kelly Oubre
(Kansas signee) and Rashad Vaughn
are 247Sports Top 10 prospects in the 2014 class and both are on the short list for MaxPreps National Player of the Year honors. Skilled and versatile forward Craig Victor
– headed to Arizona – brings a winning legacy from New Orleans as well.
Juniors Horace Spencer
and Dillon Brooks
have been sparks in November games. Both scored in double figures over the weekend in a win over Westwind Prep (Phoenix).
There is even a sophomore in the mix in point guard Derryck Thornton Jr.
. Johnson hinted before the season he would have a prominent role for the Pilots.
"He's one of our hardest workers and a very good on-ball defender," Johnson said.
Newcomers Jonah Bolden
(from Australia), Renathan Ona Embo
(France) and Justin Jackson
(Canada) all spent time over the summer on age group national teams. Brooks (Canada) and freshmen O'Shae Brissett
(Canada) and Chidozie Nnamene
(Nigeria) add to the international flavor.
The Pilots will make two trips to Canada during the season.View gallery of Findlay Prep preseason photo shootFindlay Prep last five years:
2012-13 (Todd Simon) – 35-1, No. 3 final Academy Top 10 national ranking
2011-12 (Michael Peck) – 32-1, No. 2 final Academy Top 10 national ranking
2010-11 (Michael Peck) – 28-4, No. 20 final Xcellent 25 national ranking
2009-10 (Michael Peck) – 32-2, No. 5 final Xcellent 25 national ranking
2008-09 (Michael Peck) – 33-0, Xcellent 25 National Champions