MORGANTOWN — Morgantown High will host the American Homes Classic on Friday and Saturday and most eyes will be on Saturday’s matchup between the MHS boys and Kennedy Catholic.
The Golden Eagles feature several Division-I prospects including Duquesne commit Maceo Austin and Toledo commit Mattia Acunzo.
But none are bigger — literally and figuratively — than center Oscar Tshiebwe, who will get a chance to play in what will soon be his new home.
Tshiebwe signed with West Virginia in November after a tough recruiting battle with Kentucky and John Calipari. But it was the Mountaineers and coach Bob Huggins that came out on top for the 6-foot-9, 250-pounder.
“Physically, he’s up there with anyone and you will see that when we play there on Saturday,” Kennedy Catholic head coach Rick Mancino said. “He has a motor that just doesn’t stop — he just plays so hard. I don’t know anyone that plays harder than he does.”
Tshiebwe, a 5-star recruit by Rivals.com, isn’t just a dominant presence on the court — Mancino said he is a great teammate and an “all-around nice kid.”
But despite his size, Tshiebwe has an incredible knack for not fouling. He has yet to pick up more than three fouls in either of Kennedy Catholic’s two wins this season.
“He’s aggressive but not over aggressive,” Mancino said. “He’s so quick with his hands and I don’t know of a player who’s that big that doesn’t foul. His awareness, his timing, everything are just remarkable.”
Mancino believes despite being his head coach, that Tshiebwe is the best of the best, regardless of position.
“West Virginia got the best player in the country,” Mancino said. “His potential can’t get any higher and when he gets to the top level, I told him I’ll be in the front row at his first NBA game.”
MHS head coach Dave Tallman knows what task lies ahead of his group. The Mohigans are off to a 3-0 start to the season with wins over Elkins, Buckhannon-Upshur and St. Albans, but will face difficult challenges both nights.
MHS will face Class AA No. 4 Logan on Friday.
“We will have our hands full both nights facing the likes of David Early and Oscar,” Tallman said. “David is a big guard who can do it all. Oscar is the best high school big that I will have coached against and that includes my 10 years in the D.C. Catholic League. There’s no doubt in my mind that with continued work, he will be an NBA player and I think Bob Huggins and his staff are a perfect fit for the big man.”
Early is on WVU’s radar for the class of 2020.
The Mohigans will feature center Nick Malone and forwards Garrett Haines and Cam Selders.
Mancino said Acunzo, who has been battling an injury all season, will likely not play. Austin is committed to mid-major Duquesne but has offers from Virginia, Penn State, Northwestern and Pitt.
The last time the Mohigans and Kennedy Catholic played was two years ago in the American Homes Classic, as the Golden Eagles ended the Mohigans’ 31-game winning streak on a 3/4-court heave in 2016.
Every game will be broadcast at WVMetroNews.com and on certain MetroNews radio affiliates. Tickets for each day are $5 and a new ticket must be purchased for Saturday’s games.
The Hawks will make the trek across town to take on Woodrow Wilson, a good test for UHS against one of the top teams in the state on Friday.
“We were really happy that coach Tallman invited us this year and it’s a good chance for us to play a quality opponent before we head to Myrtle Beach next week.”
The Hawks are leaving Christmas day to head south, but before then, will take on a Flying Eagles squad that UHS has beaten the last two years in the Big Atlantic championship in Beckley. UHS, led by point guard Kaden Metheny and forward KJ McClurg, will go up against Woodrow guards Bryce Radford and Danny Bickey.
The Mohigans will open the American Homes Classic in the only girls’ game of the weekend when they take on Martinsburg.
“I believe it’s a wonderful opportunity for our girls to get to play in front of what is assured to be a large crowd,” head coach Jason White said. “I know Martinsburg is equally as excited for the opportunity and it should make for a great day of basketball.”
4:30 p.m.: Martinsburg vs. Morgantown girls
6:15 p.m.: Logan vs. Morgantown boys
8 p.m.: Woodrow Wilson vs. University
4:15 p.m.: Woodrow Wilson vs. Logan
6 p.m.: Kennedy Catholic vs. Morgantown