CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Obinna Anochili-Killen has been a force that Class AA hasn’t seen in a long while.
The 6-foot-9 center-forward from Chapmanville Regional, a dominant defender and rebounder for four seasons, has also developed into an offensive dynamo in recent years, keeping the Tigers squarely among the few and true contenders for a state championship.
That devastating combination has also elevated Killen, a Marshall recruit, into the role of first-team captain on the Class AA All-State squad, as selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Other first-team honorees include Braeden Crews (Bluefield), David Early (Logan), Jaelin Johnson (Fairmont Senior), Luke LeRose and Tommy Williams (Shady Spring), Bryson Lucas (Robert C. Byrd) and Isaac McKneely (Poca).
Even though the Class AA postseason was halted before the regional co-finals because of the coronavirus, Killen has already carved out quite the resume at Chapmanville. He’s now been chosen first-team All-State three times and was on the All-State Tournament team each of his first three seasons, with a chance to make it 4 for 4, depending on whether the SSAC resumes play in its basketball tournaments.
And as Killen has thrived, so have the Tigers. They’ve gone 97-10 in his four seasons, winning the last two AA titles and finishing as state runners-up in his freshman year. This season, they were ranked No. 1 in the final state regular-season poll and are the odds-on favorite for the No. 1 seed if they make it back to the state tournament.
The only two losses this season for Chapmanvile (22-2) have been to Logan and Christ Church Episcopal, S.C. (24-2). The setback to Logan is the only loss for the Tigers against a West Virginia team in their last 67 such games.
This season, they beat Class AAA state tournament entry Wheeling Park 61-48 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling (Killen had 17 points, 14 rebounds) and also beat AA No. 2 Bluefield 60-50 on a neutral floor in Beckley (Killen 21 points, 12 rebounds).
“He’s been a great kid to coach,’’ said Chapmanville coach Brad Napier, “because his work ethic is off the charts. Everybody loves to play with him. For the four years he played here, you couldn’t find another kid who had a bad word to say about him.
“His success speaks for itself. There probably haven’t been a whole lot of guys who have been All-State three years and maybe All-Tournament four years, and he has a good chance to do that again. He’s a very special kid.’’
Killen has turned in several triple-doubles this season, averaging 21 points, 12.5 rebounds, 7.1 blocked shots and 3.1 assists. He’s now confident putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket and also developed into the team’s second-most accurate 3-point shooter and leads the team in free-throw shooting at better than 82 percent.
His continued evolution as a player bodes well for his upcoming career at Marshall.
“I think he can be an inside-out guy in college,’’ Napier said, “because he can play multiple positions. Versatility is his biggest strength, for sure. He can really guard anything from a 1 [point guard] to a 4 [power forward] in college and he can be a 3 [small forward] or 4 at the college level.
“When all the schools were recruiting him, some were recruiting him as a 3, some as a 4 and some as a combo guy who can play everything. I think that’s what Marshall will do with him.’’
The remaining members of the first team include:
Crews – The 5-10 senior averaged a team-high 19.7 points for the Beavers (21-3), who wound up ranked No. 2 in the final state poll and advanced to the Region 3 co-finals. Crews also averaged 4.4 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.7 steals, canned 66 3-point field goals and pushed his career total to 1,306 points.
Early – A 6-4, 240-pound senior and Marshall commit, he became the top scorer in Logan’s long and illustrious basketball history with more than 2,200 career points. He averaged 27.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals this season, and turned in 11 double-doubles, sparking the Wildcats (16-8) into the Region 4 co-finals.
Johnson – A 6-4 junior, he helped the rebuilding Polar Bears (12-12) get back into the Region 1 co-finals, leading the team in scoring (19.5), rebounds (6.9), steals (41) and minutes played (30-plus). Johnson also shot 56 percent overall from the floor and averaged nearly two assists per game.
LeRose – A 6-0 senior, he transferred from Nicholas County and had a solid impact on the Tigers (22-2), who wound up No. 3 in the state poll and reached the Region 3 co-finals. LeRose averaged 16.7 points and sank 53 3s, upping his career scoring total to 2,143 points, 15th-highest all-time in West Virginia.
Lucas – The 6-5 junior was a force all over the floor as the Eagles (22-2) ended up No. 4 in the state poll and carried a 22-game winning streak into the Region 2 co-finals. Lucas led RCB in scoring (14.5), rebounds (8.1), assists (3.0), steals (2.8), deflections (43) and blocked shots (36) and shot 52 percent from the field.
McKneely – The 6-3 sophomore elevated his game, helping the Dots (21-3) earn the No. 6 spot in the final poll and a berth in the Region 4 co-finals. McKneely tops Poca in scoring (22.0), steals and deflections and also averages four rebounds and three assists. His assist-to-turnover ratio is an outstanding 2.5 and he’s already less than 30 points away from 1,000 for his career.
Williams – A 6-2 senior, he topped the Tigers in scoring (20.0) as his team picked up five wins against Class AAA contenders (George Washington, Woodrow Wilson, Capital, South Charleston twice), beat RCB and won once against Bluefield. Williams, who has scored 1,220 career points, has signed with Glenville State.
Killen, Crews, Early and LeRose are all repeat first-team selections from last year, while McKneely and Williams were on the second team. The captain of this year’s second team is Drew Hatfield of Mingo Central.
Rick Ryan is a sports reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and provided this story on behalf of the WVSWA.