Four players have been added to Jeff Capel’s 2020 recruiting class, but none has generated more excitement than 6-foot-9-inch, 240-pound forward John Hugley from Brush High School in Cleveland, OH. Hugley has been ranked as a four-star recruit by every major recruiting service and is a top-100 prospect nationally. He was recently named First-Team All-Ohio by Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association. John averaged 24 points, 13.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game for Brush High School.
Hugley recently wrapped up his senior season and Pittsburgh Sports Now reached out to Brush High School head basketball coach Chet Mason to discuss his star player’s future.
“I’ve been coaching John since the seventh grade. He came to me as a big kid, overweight, not in shape. I stressed to him that he had a lot of potential and he stuck with it,” said Mason. “He just kept grinding it out and improving year after year. He’s gotten so much better. Now you can see the fruits of his labor at the end of his senior year. John, without a doubt, was the best player in the state of Ohio and one of the top players in the country in my opinion.”
Coach Mason was asked to elaborate on Hugley’s development and maturation throughout his senior year. He stated, “I was a player first. I have played at the highest level for many years. I stress to all of my players that I sacrifice development for winning at the high school level,” he stated. “It’s more of a business when you get to college. At the high school level, we can afford to develop kids and lose games and things of that nature. First and foremost, I prefer to develop a player. I saw significant potential with John’s size and ability. I didn’t think he had to be stuck under the basket.”
“His freshman year, he couldn’t really do much close around the rim. Move forward to his senior year and he’s moving away from the basket, pushing the ball up the court, starting to break, pull up on threes, catch it one dribble pull up, two dribbles pull up, things of that nature.”
Jeff Capel’s 2020 recruiting class will bring talent, size, athleticism and physicality to the Panthers roster. Hugley joins fellow class of 2020 members Noah Collier (6-foot-9 inch, 215 pounds) from Westtown School (Westtown, PA), Max Amadasun (6-foot-10 inches, 240 pounds) from Christ Our Savior Lutheran (Brooklyn, NY) and Femi Odukale (6-foot-5 inches, 195 pounds) from Springfield Commonwealth Academy (Springfield, MA).
Coach Mason has taken several trips to Pittsburgh to watch the Panthers in ACC action. He was asked what kind of an impact John can make next season. “John has improved so much. He’s able to do whatever Coach Capel asks of him. If that’s going inside and asking him to throw it down, if it’s that’s ball screening and popping, if you’re going five-out or four-on-one, he’s able to do that as well. It’s a true luxury,” he said.
“John has worked himself into being a really good player. I’ve coached USA basketball, I work Nike Academy, I work Nike elite, so I see all the players, all the top 50, top 100 players that are out there. I get to work with all of them. John is one of the players I get to work with there during the summer.”
Mason mentioned that basketball is becoming positionless. He believes the days of calling a player a ‘1’ (point guard) or a ‘3’ (small forward / wing) are over with. “I just say they are a guard or a forward,” he said. Players that offers versatility are a true asset. He emphatically stated that Hugley brings position versatility to the Panthers’ lineup.
“John is a luxury do to his size and strength. He’s a very strong player. One thing Pitt fans will see for themselves is his passing. On a high school team, you’re not always surrounded by the best talent. You simply have to play up to the talent that you’re playing with, “he said. “When John gets to Pitt he’s playing at the highest level in the ACC. He’s going to play with elite players and you’re going to see he’s one of the best passers you’ll see for a long while. He can pass the ball; it’s unbelievable.”
Coach Mason was asked Hugley’s intangibles, his leadership abilities. “John is very competitive, highly competitive. He’s grown and matured so much from the first day that I met him to now. It’s a testament to him and his family,” he said. “He’s definitely got great leadership qualities both on and off the court. John’s still a young man and he’s going to want to play video games but when it’s time to get down to business he’s locked down and focused on the task at hand.”
“John’s leadership abilities are outstanding but you’re jumping from high school to the ACC. There’s still going to a lot to learn and a lot he’s going to go through. I think with his talent, he’s going to transition successfully.”
Harry Psaros can be found on Twitter @PittGuru