Mitch Vingle: West Virginia’s top hoops recruits open some eyes

SAM OWENS | Gazette-Mail
Mingo Central´s Jeremy Dillion (0) dribbles down the court as he his defended by Fairmont Senior´s Brandon Shields during the 2017 Class AA boys basketball state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.

You might recall we recently went over the future football stars in this space.

Today, though, let’s take a peek at the Mountain State’s future hoops standouts — non-Huntington Prep edition.

Understand that Prep, as usual, has many bright stars like Keldon Johnson, Jon Kobongo, Maurice Calloo and Jaemyn Brakefield. You’ll see all on future high major Division I rosters.

Within the fabric of West Virginia’s high school scene, however, allow me to give you a perfect vision.

The year 2020 is the place to go.

That’s where you’ll find the brightest class. And, while on the topic of class, look to that of AA. That’s where most of the high school recruiting action is found.

Yet let’s take it from the top. After consulting with those in the know, the top two Division I prospects appear to be Logan’s David Early and Chapmanville’s Obinna Killen — both freshmen this past season.

Early’s highlight video is off the charts. Meanwhile, the 6-foot-8 Chapmanville standout has simply been Killen it. Some have whispered the letters NBA in regard to him.

“Obinna has been getting a lot of interest already,” said Chapmanville Regional coach Brad Napier. “Marshall has already offered. West Virginia is very involved. [The Mountaineers] were pretty much the first school to get involved, even though they haven’t offered yet. I think that’s a good possibility though. They’ve been down to see him several times. He’s on their radar.

“If [Killen] he keeps developing and working, he’ll have a chance to be a high major kid that can go to a Big 12 or ACC or Big Ten school. He’s 6-8 already and is very athletic. He stays in the weight room. He’s always wanting to go to the gym and work on his game.”


“David Early is a high major Division I kid,” Napier said. “He’s 6-4, 240 pounds and is just about unstoppable because he’s so strong and athletic. He can shoot, plus he’s a great passer.”

Word is WVU’s Bob Huggins loves the kid. And in a recent AAU game for the West Virginia Wildcats, Early scored 20 straight points.

Yet there are other 2020 DI prospects. In order, they are University High’s Kaden Metheny (a 5-11 point guard), Nicholas County’s Luke LeRose (a 5-11 point guard) and Mingo Central’s Drew Hatfield (a 5-11 guard and son of coach Kevin).

But let’s now jump to the 2018 signing class. You might know Mingo Central’s Jeremy Dillon has already committed to Marshall. Some within the sport, however, make the case for Chapmanville’s Drew Williamson as the state’s top prospect of the class. He led the Tigers to the Class AA championship game.

“Drew Williamson has been getting a lot of looks from mid-majors,” Napier said. “High Point, Marshall, Radford, Ohio and several other schools have been looking. He’s one of the better shooters in the state at 6-4 and 195 pounds. He’s a strong kid.”

Williamson, however, suffered an ankle injury last summer and didn’t get the exposure he could have, according to the coach.

Those within hoops circles say Williamson and Dillon have company. Fairmont Senior’s Taevon Horton, Huntington’s Mikal Dawson, George Washington’s Justin Phillips and Capital’s Anthony Pittman all have DI shots.

Oh, and you know how Chapmanville has two Division I prospects? Fairmont has three.

Radford and Marshall, for instance, both like Horton.

“Taevon is very athletic,” said FSHS coach Dave Retton. “He shot 54 percent as a guard. He’s very strong and loves to compete.”

In the 2019 class, Retton has potentially the top two rated players in Zyon Dobbs, a first-team all-state player as a sophomore, and 6-5 guard Jalen Bridges. Both are playing AAU ball for the Louisville Magic, according to Retton.

“Dobbs averaged .7 turnovers for us,” said the coach. “He’s always been head and shoulders above his age group. And Jalen has a really high upside. He’s 6-5 and can shoot. His body is still maturing, which bodes well for him.”

That said, some whisper Parkersburg South’s Seth Fallon could be the “biggest sleeper” of the 2019 class. He’s the son of South’s coach Mike.

Other potential DI hoops recruits include South Charleston’s Corey Allison and Notre Dame’s Gabe Zummo.

“There’s a lot of talent in the state,” Napier said. “I think we’re on an upswing.”

Indeed, our vision from 2020 on in indicates such. And for those farsighted, keep your eyes on Winfield’s Noah Rittinger, a talented left-handed shooter in the 2021 class.

All nice sights for sore eyes.

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