Sometimes, things just have a way of working themselves out. Maybe we’re seeing that with the case against the Westwind Preparatory Academy boys’ basketball team.
One of its biggest acquisitions for next season has departed from the small school on the west side of Phoenix that has been on a quest to become a national powerhouse in high school basketball. Chris Thomas, who enrolled in the school in February, has just been dis-enrolled.
And its coach, Gary Trousdale, is uncertain about his plans to return to the bench next season.
(Update: Trousdale has reportedly left Westwind to take over a program at a La Jolla, Calif., high school. And Chris Mason, a junior guard who is a top-five recruit, has also left the program.)
After Westwind Prep blew through last season, averaging around 90 points a game and easily pocketing the 2A state championship, Trousdale made no apologies for his team’s domination of the small-school competition. The Warriors often put 100 or more points on the scoreboard and won the state title by destroying Thatcher High in the championship game, 82-63.
The Warrior roster last season included a couple of players from China and two more from Latvia and France – and a pair from Detroit, for good measure. But, despite the fact that the line-up included zero kids from Arizona, Trousdale insisted there was no recruiting involved.
“The program is recruiting the kids, but there is no actual recruiting,” said the former college coach, in answer to his critics.
And then he poked the system in the eye once more, saying there would be even more elite players joining the program. “There are some high-major players coming here next year that are going to shock a lot of people,” he said.
And then Chris Thomas showed up. The 6’5″ shooting guard is the No. 5 overall player in the country, according to an ESPN rating.
He was scheduled to begin his junior year at Westwind, following a freshman year at Montebello High in Denver and a partial sophomore season at Princeton Day Academy in Maryland.
But at Westwind, he lasted just a few months. School administrators aren’t providing details on his departure, but it seems apparent the decision was not his.
So, with Thomas gone and Trousdale also possibly gone, it will be interesting to see where the program goes from here.
Next year, Westwind will be competing with the big boys since the AIA has moved the school up to Division I. But that may not be a major bump in the road since the school played a couple of top teams in 5A (which will become Division I) during tournament play last season, and beat them both.
The Warriors will also have senior leadership returning in Demarquise Johnson, a 6’6″ guard who was named the Small Schools Player of the Year last season.
But, whether Trousdale returns or not, the program is dealing with other issues right now that could rock the boat before next season gets here. The AIA is investigating the eligibility of two players from last year’s team, based on the high school governing body’s bylaws thay pertain to boarding schools.
Westwind Prep is not an accredited member of the Western Boarding Schools Association, but school officials are arguing that the AIA bylaws aren’t specific about requiring accreditation.
The AIA is considering a bylaw change to remedy the situation in the future. But in the meantime, the Warrior roster could look a lot different by the time the next basketball season rolls around.
The organization is hoping to have the results of its investigation by the time school resumes.