SPIRE Academy has been a staple within our post-grad coverage for a couple years now, and in 2018-19, they’ll play their best hand in the national high school landscape. SPIRE welcomes a bevy of transfers to help guide them to national prominence, including four instant-impact players from Michigan. SPIRE will play a very difficult schedule, and with the number of weapons across their lineup, it’s safe to say that they’re the best team in Ohio entering the season.
Rocket Watts is one of the Michigan transfers, and the 6-door-2 Michigan State Spartans commit is one of the best scorers in the county. Watts was terrific last season at Old Redford, and was the second-leading scorer during the regular season of the 2018 NIKE EYBL for The Family Detroit. Watts is also a member of the U17 USA Basketball team, landing a spot on the national roster the past two seasons. Not many players in the senior class can score the basketball as effectively or in as many ways as Watts, and his presence on the floor makes SPIRE a dynamic offensive team. Expect Watts to make a play for All-American status, and if you’re a Spartans fan, make sure to get an early taste of the buckets he’ll bring next fall.
Junior Isaiah Jackson was partners-in-crime with Watts at Old Redford, and the big man was the first to announce his transfer to SPIRE. Jackson is a top-30 ranked big man nationally, and his length, athleticism and 6-foot-10 frame definitely back his ranking up. Teaming with Jackson in the frontcourt will be Myron Gardner, a 6-foot-7 transfer from Loyola Detroit. Gardner had a standout spring alongside Watts and Jackson in the EYBL with The Family, and all three should carry some advanced team chemistry heading into the season. Gardner is a certified high-major recruit, and his non-stop motor will be a major asset for SPIRE. Aundre Polk, a junior big man with developing skills, will see major minutes alongside Gardner and Jackson. Polk also transferred in from Old Redford, and is on the verge of breaking out nationally thanks to his 6-foot-9 frame and natural defensive ability. Terry Lockett Jr will be depended on in the backcourt, and the Minnehaha Academy (MN) transfer doubles as a high-major football recruit. This group could run 10-11 deep, but the top of their rotation will keep them competitive against anyone they play.
Watts, Jackson, and Gardner proved to be a dynamic threesome for The Family this past spring and summer, and they should find even more success during their time as high school teammates. Watts will be a headache for opposing backcourts, and his uncanny ability to put the ball in the basket will make SPIRE a constant threat as their season unfolds. Watts is a terrific prospect capable of putting the team on his back, but he’ll need the supporting cast to produce at a high level. If Gardner utilizes his versatility and Jackson continues to cement his status as a top big in 2020, SPIRE will find a great deal of success this winter.