Northland tangles with fabled Oak Hill Academy Saturday on National TV


Nationally-ranked Columbus Northland (No. 2) faces Oak Hill (No. 8) on ESPNU.

Springfield, Mass. is the home of the Basketball Hall of Fame, and this weekend it will host the 2010 Spalding Hoophall Classic inside Blake
Arena on the campus of Springfield College. The Classic will include nine of the USA Today’s Top
20 teams with the marquee game being No. 2
Columbus Northland meeting No. 8 Oak Hill Academy (VA) Saturday on ESPN at 4 p.m.

Springfield, Massachusetts is the home of the Naismith Memorial
Basketball Hall of Fame, and this weekend it will play host to the
Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2010 Spalding Hoophall Classic inside Blake
Arena on the campus of Springfield College.

The four-day (January 15-18) event will feature 20 boys games
and three girls contests with teams from 16 states along with the
District of Columbia coming to Springfield over Martin Luther King Jr.

The Hoophall Classic will include nine of the USA Today’s Top
20 with No. 1 St. Patrick (NJ), No. 4 Findlay Prep (NV), No. 7
Westchester (CA), No. 10 DeMatha (MD), No. 11 Neumann-Goretti (PA), No.
18 St. Benedict’s and No. 19 Mater Dei (CA). The big game is No. 2
Columbus Northland meeting No. 8 Oak Hill Academy (VA) in Saturday’s
marquee match up on ESPN at 4 p.m.

The Vikings (7-0) will put their unbeaten record on the line
when they face national-power Oak Hill (18-1). This will be Northland’s
fourth game of the week already having already captured wins over city
league foes, Whetstone, Linden McKinley and Beechcroft.

The battle of heavyweights on Saturday won’t be Northland’s
first rodeo when it comes to national television. The Vikings knocked
off then No. 1 Findlay Prep (NV) on ESPN2 back on December 17th at
Otterbein College. Arbuably the nation’s best player, Northland’s Jared
Sullinger, torched Prep for 32 points and 17 rebounds.

Oak Hill Academy has just one loss on the year coming in the
championship of the Les Schwab Invitational back on December 30th.
Ironically, that was the Warriors last game. Oak Hill was playing its
fourth game in four days when it fell to No. 7 Weschester (52-47) in
Hillsboro, Oregon.

Despite Oak Hill being a team filled with a collection of some
of the best players in the country, the game has more Ohio flavor than
one may believe.

Oak Hill guards Juwan Staten and Pe’Shon Howard have both played for schools in the Buckeye state.

Staten, just last year, led Dayton Thurgood Marshall to the
D-II state championship game before losing to Akron SVSM. Staten scored
52 points in the two games. The Dayton signee is very familiar with
Sullinger and teammate JD Weatherspoon having played alongside the two
on All-Ohio Red’s AAU National Championship three-peat.

“Juwan is like my brother on the AAU-circuit,” Jared Sullinger
said. “He plays real hard and is a real good point guard, and right now
we have just been joking around about who is going to win. We are just
having a lot of fun with it.”

Howard, a Maryland commit, played his freshman season at
Lakewood St. Edward when the Eagles made the state semis before losing
to eventual state champion, Cincinnati Moeller. Howard scored 11 points
in just 14 minutes during the game against the Crusaders.

Besides Sullinger, Weatherspoon, and Penn State commit Trey
Burke, Staten and Howard have scored more points at the Ohio State
Tournament than any other Viking player. Staten’s 52 points are more
than anyone.

Staten and Howard are just two of Oak Hill’s highly-touted D-I commits.

6-foot-4 guard Doron Lamb, who is a very special player, is considering Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona, Connecticut, and Oklahoma.

6-foot-11 senior Baye Keita is signed to play in the Big East
with Syracuse and 6-foot-8 senior Roscoe Smith has committed to

Another interesting name on the roster is 6-foot-2 junior Keith
Hornsby, who is the son of famous musician Bruce Hornsby that played
with the Grateful Dead in the late 1980’s until the end. The young
Hornsby is a terrific shooter for the Warriors.

The Warriors have already played two Ohio teams. They beat
Walnut Ridge (87-56) and state-ranked Cincinnati Princeton (68-47) in
the Ironton Classic.

Northland certainly won’t be intimidated
already proving they can beat the big boys. The Vikings team chemistry
and A+ defense should go a long way on Saturday. In order to take care
of business, Sullinger believes defense is the key.

“Just go out and play defense – that is our main objective,”
Sullinger said. “We don’t care how many points we score as long as we
hold the other team to less points.”

Sullinger leads the Vikings with 24.3 points per game and 13.7
rebounds. The 6-foot-9 ‘Big Smooth’ will have his hands full with Smith
and Keita, but he always seems to answer the bell.

Burke, a junior, is next with 16.3 points per outing along with
7.3 assists, 3.6 steals, and two rebounds. The Penn State commit is
without a doubt one of the most underrated point guards in the country.

Weatherspoon, who is a nightly highlight reel, is getting 11.2 point per encounter and seven caroms.

West Virginia commit Jalen Robinson is starting to emerge as
well. The 6-foot-8 sophomore, who is showing a lot more aggressiveness
in the paint, is averaging 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a game.

6-foot-3 sophomore wing Ke’Chaun Lewis is scoring 6.6 points
per game and junior sharp-shooter Lavonte Justice is coming off the
bench for seven points a night.

Sophomore guard Jordan Potts doesn’t always glow in the box
score, but the nails-tough Potts makes a lot of the little plays.
Potts, who has an offer from James Madison, is averaging 3.3 points and
three assists a game.

6-foot-8 Devon Scott also adds quality depth on the interior. Scott has an offer from James Madison as well.

The Northland flight will leave Saturday morning, which should be about a 90-minute trip.

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