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Huntington Prep 2 weeks away from season-opener

Oct. 16, 2011 @ 11:21 PM

HUNTINGTON -- The basketball anticipation of Division I talent has been rampant around Marshall University in October.

And it is not necessarily just geared toward the Thundering Herd.

Huntington Prep opened its practice schedule for the 2011-12 season two weeks ago at the Marshall University Recreation Center, and the Express have one goal in mind -- a national championship in the high school ranks.

"Right now, things have died down a little bit with recruiting," Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford said. "The guys are excited and just concentrating on the season now. They have high goals for themselves and we have high goals for them."

With a talented lineup of players, a national championship is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

The Class of 2012 players on the roster is loaded with talent including Missouri commit Negus Webster-Chan and fellow Huntington Prep returnee Stefan Jankovic. Other 2012s that are making waves in the recruiting circles are Elijah Macon, Javontae Hawkins and Evan Payne.

It doesn't end there.

Andrew Wiggins is the top-ranked overall player in the Class of 2014, Xavier Rathan-Mayes is quickly ascending up the Class of 2013 charts along with fellow junior Tanveer Bhullar -- brother of former Huntington Prep player Sim Bhullar.

Talent is no question with this roster, but meshing that talent into a basketball team is a load that many coaches might not be able to take on.

However, Fulford is eager to do so after having extensive experience in his time at Huntington Prep and Mountain State Academy.

"We're putting in rules and principles, but we want them to go play," Fulford said. "We knew that we'd have guys that can spread the floor and have guys that can go make plays. Now, it's just taking the streetball out and actually putting offenses in and getting guys to read screens and make proper cuts."

Fulford maintains, however, that the offensive schemes are just guidelines for the half-court game if his team gets put in such a situation. The team is predicated on athletes that use their defensive abilities to turn the game into a quick-tempo, transition game.

He even joked that he has to remind his coaches sometimes in practice that the offense isn't looking the best because of his team's defensive prowess.

"As coaches we think our offense is bad when we are going up against each other, but it's actually that we are very good defensively," Fulford said. "It's not easy to score. We know defense is going to dictate our offense, so we are trying to put in a little structure offensively."

Possibly the biggest change for the Express this year is a change in the national viewpoint of the program.

Last season, Huntington Prep was still virtually an unknown in its second year, but several quality contests helped spread the word.

This year, with the addition of talent including Macon, Wiggins, Rathan-Mayes and Payne, the team is likely going to not sneak up on anyone.

"The first couple of years, we developed the brand. On a lot of schedules this year, we are the brand," Fulford said. "That's the game a lot of our opponents are looking for with Andrew here and Xavier here and Elijah here.

"With the hard work we've put in the first two years, this is the year that we are there and now we have to go to perform."

Huntington Prep opens its season in two weeks against Next Level Prep (Canada) at Barboursville's King Gym, where the team's home games will be played this year.

There are plenty of high-profile games on the Express' schedule this season, including a Dec. 17 matchup against Chicago Simeon at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium and a Jan. 8 battle against Whitney Young (Ill.) at Rupp Arena.

A pair of marquee matchups will also take place in a local tournament that is gaining steam.

After the matchup with Simeon at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Express travel back to play in the Ironton Classic against Ohio powers Cincinnati Taft and Columbus Northland.

The team also travels to perennial contender St. Anthony (N.J.) on Feb. 11.

2011-12 Huntington Prep schedule

OCTOBER

29 - Next Level Prep (Canada)

NOVEMBER

3 - Rio Grande JV

7 - Univ. Of Charleston JV

# 23 - Sunrise Christian (Okla)

# 25 - Trent International (Texas)

# 26 - Tilton (Mass.)

DECEMBER

2 - Wesley Christian (Ky.)

4 - Marietta College JV (Ohio)

@10 - St. Ignatius (S.C.)

11 - at Marietta College JV

%17 - Chicago Simeon

$22 - Cincinnati Taft (Ohio)

$23 - Columbus Northland (Ohio)

JANUARY

^8 - Whitney Young (Ill.)

*13 - Garfield Heights (Ohio)

*14 - Middletown (Ohio)

16 - Friendship Collegiate (D.C.)

20-21 - Mountaineer Showcase, Morgantown

27 - Shenandoah Valley Christian (Va.)

28 - Pinewood Prep (S.C.), at Logan

+29 - Lakewood St. Edward (Ohio)

FEBRUARY

3 - Westbury Christian (Texas)

4 - Christian Faith (N.C.)

11 - at St. Anthony (N.J.)

15 - at Rio Grande JV

17 - at Next Level Prep (Canada)

18 - at McNabb Prep (Canada)

23 - at Univ. Of Charleston JV

&25 - Redemption Christian Academy (N.Y.)

&26 - REDA (Canada)

MARCH

2 - at Shenandoah Valley Christian (Va.)

3 - Capital City International (D.C.), at Cam Henderson Center

SCHEDULE KEY

# - Peoria, Ill.

$ - Ironton Classic

@ - at Rio Grande Univ.

% - at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium

^ - Rupp Arena, Univ. Of Kentucky

* - Flyin' To The Hoop Classic, Dayton

+ - at University of Akron

& - Concord, N.C.

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