- Joel Francisco
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Oak Hill Academy (Va.) relied upon its star power, All-American 6-1 PG Brandon Jennings, to defeat traditional rival Montrose Christian Academy (Rockville, Md.) 59-48 in the inaugural "Battle of the Best."
Jennings had complete dominance in the game, scoring 33 points on 12-14 free throws and 9-17 field goals. Coach Steve Smith used an extended 1-3-1 defense which kept the Montrose offense out of sync and Jennings was "the terminator" with 10 steals. Much-improved 6-8 junior forward Glenn Bryant had 13 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks for Oak Hill.
Outstanding junior, 6-6 G/F Terrell Vinson led Montrose Christian with 26 points and 13 rebounds and fellow junior, 6-7 forward Tristan Spurlock had 10 points and 16 rebounds. Also, playing well was precocious 5-8 freshman point guard Jordan Roach, who had seven points, four assists and two steals in his second half matchup against Jennings.
This game was unique in that both coach Stu Vetter of Montrose Christian and Oak Hill's Steve Smith coached in bare feet. Instead of paying admission, fans were asked to donate shoes to Samaritan's Feet, an organization that provides shoes to homeless and needy children. The event was sponsored by the CIAA and 2xsalt, a non-profit charitable organization founded in Charlotte by former NBA players Bobby Jones, David Thompson and Bart Kofoed.
Oak Hill completed its year with a 34-4 record, and Smith may have accomplished his all-time best and most challenging coaching season during his 23 years at this legendary school. He had only one senior starter in Jennings and lost two key players very early in the year. This team most definitely deserves a high national ranking considering the difficult schedule it played (mostly on the road) with a very young squad and now sits at No. 4 in the ESPN HIGH Elite 25.
Jennings not only ended his high school career with a victory, but he set some exceptionally high new benchmarks at Oak Hill. On February 19 Jennings scored 63 points to break the record of 61 points by Calvin Duncan set 27 years ago in 1981. He finished with a season total of 1,312 points, exceeding the 980 points scored by Josh Smith in 2004. And during his two years at Oak Hill, Jennings had a career total of 1,927 points scored, a standard unlikely to be matched by a future Oak Hill player. His final season averages were 35.5 points, five rebounds, 7.5 assists and four steals per game.
We look forward to watching ESPN's No. 1 player next in the 31st McDonald's All-American Game at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee March 26. The game will be televised by ESPN at 9:30 p.m. (EDT).
Mark your calendars!
Bob Gibbons is the editor and publisher of the All Star Sports Report and is widely regarded as the recruiting guru of college basketball. Drop Bob a line in his mailbag.
No. 1 Class of 2008 prospect Brandon Jennings scored 33 points in his swan song for Oak Hill, writes Bob Gibbons.