Prep Notebook: Hillside's Kalen McCain grabs Louisville offer
Hillside High School churns out major college football prospects like no other program in the area and the class of 2014 is no exception.
Rising senior safety Kalen McCain joined teammates Trevion Thompson and Donté Thomas-Williams on the BCS radar, picking up a scholarship offer from future ACC member Louisville this week, Hillside coach Antonio King has confirmed.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound McCain played in the shadows of fellow Hillside safety and national recruiting target Korrin Wiggins last fall. Wiggins spurned the likes of North Carolina and Ohio State before landing at Clemson on national signing day and generally took the air out of the room when it came to talking Hillside and safeties, but the spotlight’s now on McCain.
“I expect a lot of other folks to offer McCain, too, now that Louisville’s done it,” King said.
Teammates Thompson and Thomas-Williams are both ranked as 4-star recruits on a 0 to 5 scale with 5 the highest ranking accorded. Thompson, listed at 6-3, 180 pounds, is in the process of winnowing out college suitors. Scout.com ranks him as the No. 4 high school senior wide receiver in the nation and King said he’s seen reports of him ranked as high as No. 2 at his position.
Thompson has known scholarship offers from Duke, UNC and N.C. State locally, and Clemson, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Georgia nationally.
Thomas-Williams, who is listed at 6-2, 215 by Hillside but 5-11, 205 by at least one online recruiting service, has been a backup throughout his career to all-time Hillside great running back Khris Francis, now at North Carolina.
Despite his lack of playing time as a sophomore and junior, the rising senior is ranked as the No. 196th prospect nationally by Rivals.com and has scholarship offers from N.C. State locally and Florida, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Ohio State among others nationally.
FINAL PAC-6 TOURNAMENT IMPRESSIONS
After being on hand for four straight nights of PAC-6 Tournament boys’ and girls’ basketball doubleheaders, a few observations that might have been lost in the pressure to file nightly game reports.
— Hillside’s girls’ backcourt of point guard Mylea McKennith and Justine Lyons has to be among the most athletic in the state. McKennith’s ballhandling and driving ability and Lyons’ versatility — she guarded every position on the floor at one time or another in the finals — can be jaw-dropping.
— Jordan’s boys are more than the sum of their parts. With big man Jared Hendryx (6-8) finally fully healthy after battling knee issues for a couple seasons, young point guard Mike Lee maturing into one of the best penetration scorers around and outstanding athletic wings K.J. Alston, Willie Weeks and Darien Ortiz complementing them, they look like a team that could make a statement in the state playoffs which begin Monday.
Add top reserves Josh Thompson at the point, Tyreek Frye in the post and John Brown and Arthur Reese on the wings and there’s depth to go with the starting talent.
Of the shot-blocking, deft-passing, score-when-needed Hendryx, Northern coach Ronnie Russell said after a loss to the Falcons Thursday night: “The big boy was the difference.”
— Riverside sophomores Moné Jones and Yakima Clifton are stars already ... Ditto Northern’s Zuri White and Rhianna Council (the freshman in this group) and Jordan’s Salita Greene. They, along with fellow soph Lyons of Hillside, should dominate the league the next two seasons.
— Southern girls’ coach Monique Fearrington has done a remarkable job in her first year as a head high school coach. Current Southern boys’ coach Kendrick Hall turned around a moribund Southern girls’ program in his only season on the bench (2011-12), but Fearrington had to rebuild this season after heavy graduation losses. She doesn’t have as dominant a post presence as Hillside, whose Jordyn Smith (20 rebounds in Friday’s title game) can be a game-changer, but her players get the job done by committee.
Sydni-Kim Dobson, Ariana Tillman and Régene Watson jump out as stars for the regular-season PAC-6 champs and tournament runners-up to Hillside.
— Had to laugh while sitting with Hillside football coach Antonio King and Hillside boys’ basketball coach Crasten Davis during Wednesday night’s tight Hillside girls’ semifinal win at Northern High School. At nail-biting time with the game very much in doubt, they both looked a lot more nervous than they ever do working the sidelines of their own games. “This is tough,” Davis admitted.
King is a big fan of Coach Ovester Grays’ girls’ program. He attends many of the team’s practices in addition to being a regular at boys’ and girls’ games.