Oak Park Now at Full Strength

20 Jan

mi-mioakparkhighschool-letter-150January 20th is the official start of the second semester for Michigan, and that means that all transfers who sat out the first semester are now eligible if they met specific deadlines.  Teams all across the state will now be receiving key pieces to their squads that just might mean the difference between an early exit loss in the playoffs, or a deep title run in Match.  At one particular school in Metro Detroit, the eligibility of three transfers will not only offer a way to salvage a season, but an opportunity to compete for a state championship.

Welcome to Oak Park High School.  A school where the football program has undergone major changes with former St. Martin De Porres standout coach Greg Carter, who has guided the Knights to two straight MHSAA football state playoff appearances the past two seasons.  The basketball program at Oak Park looks to continue the same model as Carter laid out for the football team.  Bryant Tipton, a long time coach in the Detroit Public School League, left Detroit Cody after last season to rejuvenate an ailing basketball school.  While at Cody, Tipton led the Comets to the 2010-2011 PSL West Division Title, and the city runner ups in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, losing to Pershing and Southeastern respectively.  Two out of the three transfers now eligible, left Cody to follow Tipton to Oak Park.  They are guard Orlando Fikes and forward Kelvon Fuller.  Fuller is a top 10 prospect in the 2016 class, who is already considered a lock to go division one.  While Fikes is the lesser of the known of the three transfers.  For Fikes, the decision to attend Oak Park was not only for basketball reasons, but an opportunity to end his high school career positively.

Fikes says he left Cody for a “Better and safer environment,” where there are “more opportunities, a better school, and more support from the school.”

Oak Park was a top 15 team in Class A during the pre-season, but are off to a shaky 2-3 start to the year, with losses to Romulus and Troy Athens.  However according to Fikes, January 20th could not come any sooner.

“We (Oak Park) will be back in effect, Ja’Christian Biles, Kelvon Fuller, and myself are coming with intensity, hunger, and fight to turn our season back around, the way it was suppose to be from the start.”

Orlando will be the point guard for the Knights, with responsibilities of being “The floor general, and the captain.”  He would rather see his teammates score than himself.  The one player on Oak Park that has had to shoulder most of the scoring load during the early part of the season has been junior Rodney Scales, who like the big three, was a transfer from Inkster a year ago.  Scales is a big, powerfully built forward that commands double-teams down low on the block, and is ready for the three transfers to step in and take some of the pressure off him.

“The three transfers coming back Monday will be a big difference, and will be the last and complete piece to the puzzle, we’ll be much stronger,” says Scales.

It would be foolish to assume that the main players on Oak Park have not played with each other before.  In fact, the three were allowed to participate in the Summer League at Romulus, where Oak Park blew teams away with superior athleticism and talent.  For Scales, each player complements each other, resulting in a team chemistry that has been in place for some time now.

“I think our biggest strength is we all have the mentality of keeping our composure no matter what situation or what the score is,” says Scales.  “Orlando brings that ‘floor general’ trait to the team.  Since he hasn’t been playing there has been numerous guys running sets and bringing the ball up, and now he’s back and he’s gonna take control of that and be the general.”

“Kelvon is just all around good.  He’s so versatile and can play any position from handling the ball to knocking down the three and crashing/getting rebounds.”

The last player to transfer to Oak Park was Ja’Christian Biles, who left Southfield-Lathrup to unite with Coach Tipton.  After a successful summer on the AAU circuit with Dorian’s Pride, one of the elite Michigan Summer teams in the state, Ja’Christian picked up a Youngstown State offer, and committed to YSU shortly after.  Biles would most likely have been a high-major player if he played all four years of high school, but while at Lathrup, he sat behind current Toledo Rocket scoring machine Jonathan Williams.  And with Biles at Oak Park, the Knights just might turn into the famed Harlem Globetrotters.

“Ja’Christian is just a freak man,” says Scales, “he’s so athletic and quick.  And can knock down any shot and finish above the rim.”

Now that the whole team is once again united, expectations are high at Oak Park.  The Knights are looking forward to the possibility of making a trip to the Breslin Center come March, and the three transfers will be key in deciding the Knight’s outcome.

“Me personally,” says Fikes, “I think my team can go as far as the state championship, with the talent we equipped on this team, the sky is the limit.”

Few can match the athleticism Oak Park has to offer on the wings and in the front-court, but that is not the only dimension of Oak Park’s game junior Scales said opposing teams should fear of.

“Opposing teams should fear our presence in that paint area, any team we play, we will dominate the paint offensively and defensively.”

Oak Park opens the second semester with a stiff test in Ohio against Toledo Rogers on Martin Luther King Jr. day.




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