With the long-time and immense success of national prep powerhouse Findlay Prep Academy in Henderson, Nevada, many people around the country have attempted to develop similar prep programs to mirror the Nevada-based program, and all have failed to gain the consistency and long-term success that Findlay has. Findlay has serious financial backing, dominant nationally-recognized players and an NCAA accredited course curriculum. While other prep programs have proven to have one or the other, no prep program has had all three aspects.
Arizona's own Westwind Prep Academy was very successful in their own right for numerous years - developing and producing numerous college prospects for the division-I level, while also creating a national schedule that brought a lot of attention to the state of Arizona. The program also produced (3) different NBA players - Greg Smith (Dallas Mavericks), Jamaal Franklin (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Tony Snell (Chicago Bulls), an amazing accomplishment by the program. But Westwind Prep failed to gain NCAA accreditation, and also lacked funding for the program, resulting in bankruptcy by the school this year.
Since the development of Westwind Prep, many other prep programs have now surfaced in the state of Arizona. Such programs as Planet Athlete, Elite 1 Academy, Rancho Solano Prep and Hillcrest Prep Academy have now developed with hopes of sustaining longer, but similar success.
Last year, former members of the Westwind Prep staff, Matt Allen (Program Director) and Nick Weaver (Head Coach, Recruiting Director), decided to leave Westwind and join forces to develop Hillcrest Prep Academy. Hillcrest Academy offers both a high school basketball program and also a post-graduate program for their student-athletes. While the post-graduate program kicked off last year, this year, a new national high school program has surfaced with the addition of numerous elite prospects now attending the school.
With hopes of developing a nationally acclaimed high school program that would be able to compete with the nation's best basketball programs, Hillcrest received a serious boost in their roster last year when several top-rated prospects from Gilbert Christian High School decided to transfer to the school. Such high-level talents as sophomore guard Jaden Lee and 6-foot-7 junior forward Nate Grayville transferred to Hillcrest Academy last season - giving the program some top-rated talent. The program then landed their best national prospect to date this spring when 6-foot-11 sophomore post Ousmane Ndim came to the prep program, but Ndim recently left the program only to move back home before the start to the season.
With the loss of Ndim, Hillcrest Academy remains in terrific shape, as the school landed the nation's top-rated high school prospect, regardless of class, this fall - landing superstar 6-foot-11 sophomore post Marvin Bagley III. Bagley would leave Corona Del Sol HS to join his father and his younger superstar brother, Marcus Bagley, at Hillcrest this fall, after Matt Allen and Nick Weaver would decide to hire Bagley's father, Marvin Bagley Jr., as an assistant coach for their National High School team. After the transfer of both Bagleys to the Hillcrest program, the school would also receive a new major Nike sponsorship for the Hillcrest program.
No prospect in the country, at any level, had the impact of Marvin Bagley this off-season, as he is now the consensus #1 player in America's 2018 class by every major national scouting service. Some basketball scouts in the country also have Bagley as the top overall prospect in America - regardless of class. As a result, Bagley has received serious scholarship offers early, including big offers already from Duke and Kentucky. Every school in America would offer Bagley already, if they knew they might have a chance with the future NBA prospect. Bagley is so good already that chances of him even going to college could be in jeopardy, as he could do like several other top-rated national prospects before him and play overseas for a year instead. Who knows how Bagley's future will play out over time, but he has definitely made a case as the nation's premier performer already.
Hillcrest would not just stop there. The program would shock the country again when just more than a week ago they would land the nation's top overall prospect in the 2017 class - 6-foot-10 junior post DeAndre Ayton. Ayton is a stud and is being recruited heavily by such programs Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA.
Hillcrest Prep Academy is now definitely the hottest prep program on the West Coast high school basketball scene, and possibly in the country after landing the top player in the class of 2018, Marvin Bagley III and the top player in the class of 2017, DeAndre Ayton, as the program now features two elite 7-footers for the Hillcrest front court.
Nick Weaver, and his younger brother, Kyle Weaver, also a head coach for the National High School team, have done a tremendous job with this program very quickly, and are only getting started. Nick Weaver is a terrific promoter of basketball talent, and knows what it takes to operate a successful program. Weaver has quickly developed his prep program into one of the hottest prep schools in the country. Hillcrest will have loads of college coaches and media from across the country now coming through their school this season.
Hillcrest now has a legitimate national high school team, after the addition of the Bagley family and Ayton to their program. While Hillcrest will face local junior colleges this season, they will also venture to play against such top-rated national programs as national powers Findlay Prep (NV) and Oak Hill Academy (VA).
Hillcrest is already off to an impressive start recently - defeating Cochise College this weekend. Hillcrest will next match-up with South Mountain JC on Tuesday (10/20) on the road.
Like Westwind Prep Academy, it still remains uncertain whether Hillcrest will be able sustain this tremendous start for the next 2 -3 years, but it looks possible that they will throughout the remainder of Bagley's high school career. If so, Hillcrest Academy could become the new dominant basketball prep program in the West and possibly the country for years to come. Now they just have to win against the long-time dominant prep programs. It will be very exciting to watch, and with the additions of Bagley and Ayton, they will be very tough to beat.