The Huntington prep Irish took on one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2017-2018, and they’ll take on a similar game slate with a rotation consisting of at least nine high major players. Head coach Arkell Bruce has a young nucleus of talent headlined by three ESPN top 25 underclassmen. The Irish have ten underclassmen on their roster in total, and while their players are immensely talented, they may run into some road blacks because they are so young. Huntington will attend a whopping 11 national events, and their potential success will depend on the play of junior budding stars Jaemyn Brakefield and AJ Hoggard.
Brakefield, a 6-foot-8 five star recruit hailing from Mississippi, is one of the most versatile offensive players in the 2020 class. Brakefield won West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year last season, and will have a terrific opportunity to repeat. Bruce has a lot of faith in his junior swingman and will hand him the keys to Huntington’s offensive when their season tops off. Hoggard transfers in from Archbishop Carroll (PA), and the 6-foot-4 guard plays with a toughness and grit that embodies Philly basketball. Hoggard is set to takeover the point guard position for the PSA cardinals, replacing three year starter and number one player in the country Cole Anthony. That should tell you just how highly sought after a prospect Hoggard is, and he’ll have an opportunity to put up some impressive numbers this winter.
Senior guard Andre Gordon put up 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in Huntington Prep’s October scrimmage win over Bristol Prep, and will provide veteran leadership for the young Irish. The 6-foot-2 guard will play big minutes under Bruce and will share on-ball duties with Hoggard. Gordon will head to Virginia Tech next fall, and should fit nicely in Buzz Williams’ scheme. Fellow senior Quinn Slazinski, a 6-foot-8 shooter committed to Louisville, will look to do damage offensively. Slazinski was a productive role player in the EYBL for Boo Williams, averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 11 games. Slazinski also had a huge performance in the scrimmage (26 points, five rebounds, five assists), proving he’s very much a focal point of the Irish offense. Sophomore JT Thor is getting rave reviews as he progresses as a sophomore, and he’s an impressive looking prospect - both physically and skill-wise. Thor put up 27 points, 19 rebounds and three assists in their scrimmage, turning in the best individual performance on the team. Thor is considered by most to be an elite recruit in the sophomore class, and he’ll have every opportunity to cement himself as a top 20 player during Huntington’s gauntlet of a schedule.
The Irish are never a team to count out. In being in the national spotlight for quite some time, Coach Bruce will have his team ready for whatever comes their way this season. They are set to play in prestigious events like the ARS Dallas Hoopfest, Flyin’ to The Hoop Invitational and more. Bruce has a team that is capable of making a run, but as always we have to see how their new pieces will fit in. They are slotted at 22 in the Prep Circuit national rankings but could make a move up these rankings with a couple of big wins.