As practice drew to a close and all eyes were on him in the fourth-floor gymnasium of the Northampton Square complex in South End, Vincent Osazee stepped to the free-throw line as his teammates playfully serenaded him with “Overrated!” chants.
16-year-old Osazee didn’t seem to mind. As the state’s top player in the Class of 2026 and No. 65 on the Rivals list in its graduating class, Osazee is used to the spotlight. He calmly waved both shots and then smiled lightheartedly at his teammates to remind them this was light work.
With Osazee’s rise, Boston-based Reason Prep Academy has something to prove in Year 2, competing independently against New England prep schools and other elite programs. Reason Prep, which opened its season on Saturday against Busche Academy (Chester, NH), provides training, study space, community service and mentoring opportunities to inner-city players with a passion for basketball.
The 6-foot-4 Osazee, a four-star prospect who grew up in Ireland and moved to Milton at age 11, discovered basketball at age 12 and has exploded onto the national scene in the past year. He already has offers from Rutgers, Arizona State, George Mason and more, and strong interest from Wake Forest and Arkansas. Last month he toured Boston College and Harvard.
“I saw the potential in him,” said Timmance McKinney, co-founder and head coach of Reason Prep. “I knew what he could do and what he could be. It just happened a lot faster than I thought. From unknown and no offers, within a year he just skyrocketed.
Before Osazee discovered basketball, he played football, ran track and starred as a Gaelic football player in his home country. When his family moved to Milton, and he was already 6-3, his friends bombarded him with the inevitable question that almost every tall person has heard.
“Do you play basketball?”
“I picked up a basketball,” Osazee said, “and it changed my life.”
Osazee remembered his first three-on-two, two-on-one drill and the rush he got when he put the ball in the hoop. He first failed in eighth grade and began to take his profession more seriously. That’s when it really clicked that he could turn it into something more than a hobby.
He took his training to the next level and started waking up as early as 4:30 or 5 a.m. to be at the court by 6 a.m. Now, Osazee — who has a 4.0 grade-point average at Milton High School and commutes south End for basketball: It takes almost 10,000 shots a week.
In August, Osazee burst onto the scene at the CP3 Rising Stars National Camp in North Carolina, and he’s kept that momentum going ever since. He is proud of himself for how far he has come and makes sure he unlocks his full potential.
Teammate Treyvon Morning, a graduate guard from Dorchester, compared Osazee’s game to that of Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, in that he is aggressive, thrives all over the court and has a relentless motor.
Fellow teammate Mazen Elbeik put it simply: “He’s going to be a monster.”
“He’s by far the hardest-working kid I’ve ever coached,” McKinney said. ‘He’s still working. His game is evolving every day.”
Osazee, who averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds in Year 1, decided to join Reason Prep because of his relationship with McKinney. His parents preferred that he stay at home and experience the best competition.
He projects as a big at the next level, but at Reason Prep, McKinney encourages him and his teammates to show their versatility and work through mistakes. As Osazee put it, he can “play with freedom.” McKinney knows that setbacks can happen. It’s about how you recover.
A native of Jamaica Plain, McKinney has dedicated his life to helping local athletes avoid falling into the same pitfalls he did. He was on track to play Division 1 basketball, but his grades prevented him from doing so.
He launched the Undivided Basketball AAU program, and he and his sister, Leanna Knight Armstrong, decided the community needed Reason Prep, too. Some players pay, but none more than $3,500, and the goal is to include anyone who is a good fit for the culture.
With the help of assistant Jacob Wren, McKinney recruited many of his AAU players and added a few more. Reason Prep even has a Class of 2030 sixth grader, Rahshjeen Benson, who earns regular playing time.
Osazee is the face of the program, but 6-9 Class of 2027 big Logan Lang, shifty 2026 guard Adrian Howell and graduate guard Elbeik are among the many others with notable talent.
Lang, who unleashed a deadly behind-the-back move during practice, already has an offer from High Point University. Howell has great crossover and a special feel for the game. The 6-5 Elbeik, a Jamaica Plain native who glides down the field and has an elite fadeaway, has drawn interest from UMass Lowell and Stonehill.
McKinney is all about providing an outlet for kids who love the game and need space to get buckets. The gym isn’t glamorous, but there are hoops, basketballs, and coaches and players who care deeply.
“Coach T was one of the first coaches to ever believe in me and my abilities,” Elbeik said, “so coming here was a no-brainer. We’re here to get better and go out this year and prove everyone wrong.
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