(H/T Adam Ayalew)
Paul VI was terrific in 2017-18, taking home the WCAC regular season title before capturing the VISAA Division 1 Championship, a revenge win after dropping WCAC title to Gonzaga. The Panthers won 33 of their 37 games under head coach Glenn Farello, and he has another beefed-up rotation ready for 2018-19’s go-round. They’ll play in five showcases throughout the season, but it’s their slate of games in the WCAC that will truly indicate just how good PVI is. They will be guard-oriented, but they pride themselves on stopping their opponent, and they will undoubtedly be one of the best defensive units in the country.
The backcourt of Anthony Harris and Jeremy Roach should look familiar if you’re a grassroots basketball fan. The senior and junior respectively helped Takeover win the 2018 Peach Jam Championship, helping guide the DC-based NIKE EYBL program to an undefeated regular season campaign. Harris is committed to Virginia Tech, and the top 100 recruit is considered to be an elite on-ball defender. He locks down with ferocity and effectiveness and will wreak havoc on opposing backcourts with his athletic 6-foot-3 frame. The 6-foot-2 Roach is a dynamic point guard and was responsible for setting the table for his talented Takeover teammates over the spring. He was fantastic in a distribution role, but he’ll be expected to be much more of a scorer for Farello and company. He’s more than capable of putting on his scoring pants, and he is efficient when he decides to, evidenced by his 50.8 field goal percentage in the EYBL regular season.
The supporting cast includes a lot more Team Takeover alumni, which is a great thing for anyone attempting to win in prep basketball. 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Trevor Keels was dynamic for Team Takeover’s 16U unit this summer, and he’ll be a prime beneficiary of playing alongside Harris and Roach. He shouldn’t be an area of focus for most defenses, and it’s expected that he’s going to take advantage. 6-foot-8 senior Josh Oduro was a role player for Takeover in their championship run, but the George Mason verbal commitment will be expected to provide major production both on the boards, setting screens and finishing down low. Junior forward Josiah Freeman starred with Keels on the 16U Takeover squad, and he’s looking to turn himself from a mid-major recruit to a high-major recruit. Freeman is slick in transition and a plus defender, two traits that should get him plenty of run in Farello’s system. 6-foot-4 sophomore Avery Ford adds depth in the frontcourt, while 6-foot-2 senior Xavier Joyner will also see significant minutes alongside Harris, Roach, Keels, and Freeman.
Paul VI will test themselves heavily before WCAC action. The Panthers head to four powerhouse tournaments in December and January, including trips to the City of Palms Classic and Hoophall Classic where they’ll face fellow, ranked program Bishop Gorman. This program has built a steady streak of winning, and they have the pieces to repeat their success of last season. They will have some of the best team chemistry in the country, and their defense-first style-of-play should help them rack up quite a few signature wins.