As we all know by now, the legendary head coach Steve Smith has moved on from his head coaching duties at the powerhouse basketball program Oak Hill Academy after this past season. Yerrick Stoneman is set to be the next head man in charge to run the Oak Hill program.
Stoneman has been in the coaching business since 1995. He spent some time as a graduate student assistant at Virginia Tech and was actually an assistant under head coach Steve Smith during 1996-2007. He then began coaching at Ridgeview High School in South Carolina in 2016 where he won four SCHSL state championships. I had recently spoke with Yerrick Stoneman recently on his next chapter as the next head coach at Oak Hill Academy and more.
“I think the biggest thing that I took away from Coach Smith in our time was how to develop players, how to treat players, and how to use the talent. We’ve always had good talent. I’ve always thought Coach Smith was able to balance egos and talent as good as anybody. He will bring in talent and will always play some of the toughest teams in the country. He was always able to get that talent to play together. Those are just some quick things that I picked up from him and what he has done over time.
Just watching him being able to do his x’s and o’s helped me expand my coaching style. That is just one of the things that he helped me out with in my eleven years at Oak Hill at the time.” Stoneman says reflecting on his earlier years at Oak Hill Academy.
He was announced to be the next head coach at the powerhouse program back in February. Coach Stoneman will make his debut this upcoming season, returning to a familiar place. I asked him how does he feel now returning to Oak Hill Academy, but this time as the head coach and the man in charge?
“You are probably the first person I told this but, our practices have had great intensity lately, we are all going at it and the kids are competing at a high high level. In my head I’m like, man I’m in heaven, I’m dreaming right now. To be able to have this type of group of kids, because all of them are going to do the right things in the classroom, respect the people, and the community. It feels good, I’m never going to say it’s mine because I have other people around me to help me get to where I am, but it does feel good to be apart of something special at Oak Hill.” He answered.
After his earlier years at Oak Hill Academy, later down the road Yerrick Stoneman began coaching at Ridgeview High School in South Carolina in 2016-2017. He won four SCHSL state championships during his time as the head coach there.
I asked Stoneman how tough was it of a decision to take on the Oak Hill head coaching job and to leave behind what he started at Ridgeview High School?
“A year ago from this past June, Coach Steve Smith called me. You know, he is my biggest mentor in the coaching world. For the longest time, he was like a father figure for me as well. When he called, he said he would like for me to take over the program and it was no hesitation for me. When a mentor or when somebody you respect so highly ask you to do something then you definitely are going to do it. That was one factor that made it easier to take the job.
Moving my wife back to her family and of course my family is from the area too. We grew up about thirty minutes from the Mouth of Wilson. Both my daughters have now graduated college. It probably is meant to be for me to be here because everything is falling in place so smoothly.” Coach Stoneman answers.
During his time at Ridgeview, Stoneman had the pleasure of coaching one of the nation’s top overall prospects in the 2023 class, G.G. Jackson.
Jackson has recently reclassified to the 2022 class and is currently enrolled at South Carolina University. He is a 6-foot-10 extremely skilled and versatile forward and NBA scouts and personnel have already been keeping tabs on him as he could potentially be a first round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
“I think the best thing about coaching G.G. is that he was like a sponge. His Dad wanted him to be coach. If you go back to his freshman year, he started our first eighteen, nineteen games. Once we started to get into the playoffs, I didn’t start him and he began coming off the bench. Not one time, his Dad never questioned my decision making on what we were doing and we ended up winning the state championship.
The next year he was the man. He was our leading scorer, our leading rebounder, and everything as a sophomore. This past year of course he was the player of the year in the state of South Carolina. Being a sponge was the biggest thing for him. Whatever I asked him to do, especially his freshman year, he would do.
I told his Dad during his freshman season to trust the process and everything that we will do the first year is to keep him on the perimeter, making him a wing player. Now there were some adjustments, but what a difference it made in him now. Right now he can play on the perimeter, he is very natural with his back to the basket, he has great timing, great footwork, and he knows how to create face and space.
Being on the type of AAU team he was on with ball dominant guards, he still stood out as one of the best players on the floor. He does not need the basketball to be special or make an impact on the game. That is a lot on G.G. that I think makes him much more special than anybody else.” Coach Stoneman says about G.G. Jackson.
Oak Hill Academy has always been one of the better teams in the country under former head coach Steve Smith, winning the Dick’s Nationals back in 2016. The Warriors are expected to still be one of the best teams in the country under new head coach Yerrick Stoneman.
I asked Yerrick how would he keep the success going at the powerhouse program in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia during his time as head coach?
“I think our biggest thing, since it is so many schools out there now similar to an Oak Hill Academy, what Oak Hill does best is the location for a kid. We’re not in a situation where there are a lot of distractions. We are able to silence the noise around the kid and to allow the kids to focus on basketball and the books which is important for them at this age.
I think a lot of the other programs probably have a lot of distractions around them that does not help develop to become better basketball players. I think our biggest thing at Oak Hill for us to keep it rolling like coach Smith had it is our work ethic. I work ethic is totally different. We’re out at 6am every morning and we have a sixth period basketball session for the kids. We have an amazing strength and conditioning program, one of the best in the country with Micah Kurtz.
I just think our work ethic will make the difference and the word of mouth of our players will help tremendous. Cause once they come onto campus they will have availability to the gym at any time.” He answered.
Oak Hill Academy is still set to be apart of the NIBC, one of the most talented high school basketball leagues in the country. The Warriors have basically revamped their entire roster from just a season ago with multiple different prospects apart of the roster.
Prospects like 2024 A.J. Swinton, 2024 Micah Robinson, 2024 Zion Pipkin, 2024 Dontae Russo-Nance, and a plethora of other next level talented prospects will fill out the roster under new head coach Yerrick Stoneman to start the 2022-2023 high school season.
“Coach Smith set a standard that you win a national championship every year and if you don’t, it might not necessarily be a disappointment, but it’s not something that we are happy with. So are our expectations to a win a national championship is very high. I think the group of kids that we have, we can be in the mix of winning a national title. Winning GEICO is not a long shot for us. Our schedule is going to be as tough as anybody out there. We are going to line up and play just about anybody. Everyone is calling now trying to get games and we are going to play about 45 games this season.
We have been hands on the last few days and Drayton Jones has been one that stood out and been a little different, a lot better than we thought he’d be. Kaden Magwood, sophomore, he has opened all of our coaches eyes. I feel like by the end of the next grassroots season, he has a chance to be one of the top sophomores in the country. Zion Pipkin, really pleased with him. I know he had a really good summer in the UAA circuit. Micah Robinson, he’s different, and of course A.J. Swinton. Robinson and Swinton will make an impact on the floor that only coaches will know.” Coach Stoneman finished as he spoke on some of his players and the expectations for this season.