How Western High star Kaden Magwood is preparing for jump to basketball power Oak Hill

Brandon Britt saw this coming when Kaden Magwood joined Western High School's boys basketball team: "I knew it was gonna happen."

Heading into the Warriors' 2021-22 season, Britt shared his bold prediction with the incoming freshman's father, who said even he still needed a bit of convincing.

"When he told me, 'Kaden's gonna blow up; he's gonna have a monster freshman year; just get ready for the prep schools coming,' I really didn't believe him," Al Magwood said.

"He's believed in Kaden since Day 1 more than any other coach he's had. Shoot, more than me sometimes."

Western's Kaden Magwood had 12 points against DeSales Tuesday night. The Warriors defeated the Colts 63-60. January 4, 2022.
Western's Kaden Magwood had 12 points against DeSales Tuesday night. The Warriors defeated the Colts 63-60. January 4, 2022.

Sure enough, the Magwoods sat Britt down a year later to share the news: Kaden Magwood's time at Western is done. The 6-foot-2, 160-pound guard is taking his talents to prep school — not just any prep school, but Oak Hill Academy.

"I was like, 'Let me help you pack your bags, because you're not welcome back on my team,'" Britt said. "It's an excellent opportunity, and I'm so happy for him."

Kaden Magwood: How the Western basketball freshman's clutch plays lifted the Warriors over PRP

Oak Hill is the prep school when it comes to developing young talent on the basketball court. More than 20 NBA draft picks, including the likes of Carmelo Anthony, former Eastern High School star Rajon Rondo, Ron Mercer and Jerry Stackhouse, have passed through its campus in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, on their journeys to stardom.

Did Magwood see this in his future when he first suited up for the Warriors?

"I always believed in myself," the rising sophomore told the Courier Journal. "I wouldn't say I knew that Oak Hill was gonna come, but I knew that a big-time school, if I played hard and do what I do, I just knew that they would come calling."

Western’s Kaden Magwood makes the shot against Pleasure Ridge Park. Feb. 18, 2022
Western’s Kaden Magwood makes the shot against Pleasure Ridge Park. Feb. 18, 2022

A breakout freshman season

Magwood laid a solid foundation for his development at Oak Hill as a freshman with Western.

Helping lead the Warriors to a 23-5 record, the guard averaged 13.7 points per game on 51% shooting and grabbed 3.7 rebounds per contest. He was also Western's most efficient threat from 3-point range, knocking down 51.6% of his attempted treys.

What impressed Britt the most, though, was Magwood's basketball acumen.

"You trust his instincts and trust his game," the coach said. "He was able to grasp concepts really quickly — and then not only grasp them but apply them on the court."

Magwood's instincts were on full display Feb. 18 in front of a raucous crowd celebrating homecoming and senior night at Pleasure Ridge Park High School. With Western trailing 68-67 in the final seconds of double overtime, Magwood received an inbounds pass and went coast to coast for what proved to be the game-winning layup.

Video of the final bucket shows no hesitation on Magwood's part as the guard crossed half court with time ticking away. Using a stutter step to create separation from a defender, he attacked an open driving lane to the basket and made the high-pressure possession look more like a walk in the park.

When recounting Magwood's highlight-reel moment months later, Britt said he remembered leaving the gym that night thinking, "He's the real deal."

"I knew it a long time before that," the coach said, "but it was one of those moments that I remember right now that really stood out.

"Kaden's got a chance to be a pro, in my opinion, long as he keeps on progressing at the rate he's going at right now."

Room for growth

Magwood will have plenty of time to hone his skills at Oak Hill but isn't waiting until he arrives on campus in August to get started. He's already pinpointed a few areas for improvement through personal training with Western's associate head coach, Brandon Anderson, and games on the AAU circuit this summer before surrounding himself with some of the best young talent in the country.

"I can shoot the ball, but sometimes it's kind of inconsistent," Magwood said. "My shooting, my ballhandling, my passing vision and my defense — mostly my defense.

"I'm solid in all areas but I just wanna be the best at everything."

Through his father and his connection with Britt, Magwood has also been spending time with Derek Anderson Jr., the son of UK basketball great and 11-year NBA veteran Derek Anderson who also played at Oak Hill.

"He's been tremendous (and) helped me build my game further," Magwood said of the younger Anderson. "He knows how to do things around (Oak Hill), so I'm glad to have him in my corner."

Anderson Jr. and other members of Magwood's camp are also encouraging the young guard to establish himself as a vocal leader at Oak Hill. Britt said Magwood's work ethic showed other Western players "what an obsession to basketball looks like," but as a freshman he often let more experienced teammates do the talking.

"We (are) constantly encouraging him, 'Hey, when you get down there, you don't have to act like a sophomore. Act like the leader,'" Al Magwood said.

On leaving, and maybe coming back, home

Western’s Kaden Magwood slams one home against Pleasure Ridge Park. Feb. 18, 2022
Western’s Kaden Magwood slams one home against Pleasure Ridge Park. Feb. 18, 2022

The competition on the court will be stiff for Magwood at Oak Hill, but the guard said the hardest part of his transition to prep school will be moving away from his father — "my savior" — and going long periods without seeing him for the first time in his life.

"I'm gonna be nervous a lot," he said. "I'm gonna be lonely a lot. I've watched stuff on Oak Hill saying there's nothing to do ... but I feel like I'm gonna be good when I get used to how they live (and) how they do things around there."

The feeling is mutual for Al Magwood, who remembers lulling his infant son to sleep with basketball games on TV whenever Kaden Magwood woke him up crying in the middle of the night.

"It's gonna be a big adjustment for me being a single parent, having him away from home," the father said. "I don't know how I'm gonna really react to him not being home more than a weekend or a week, but we understand that this is for his future. We're not worried about short-term goals. We're building for the long-term goal."

If Magwood flourishes over the next three years at Oak Hill, his future could include scholarship offers from some of the country's premier college basketball programs. The high-profile prep school has produced more than 30 McDonalds All-Americans and offers players visibility among Division I coaches that's hard to top.

A lot can happen as Magwood progresses through the ranks, but the rising sophomore already has a clear vision for where his journey is headed.

"I really want to come back home when I'm done with high school," said Magwood, who received an offer from Western Kentucky in April and also mentioned U of L, UK, Indiana and Tennessee as schools from which he'd be interested in hearing.

Before Magwood can make a triumphant return, though, he must first say goodbye to the family, friends, coaches and teammates who have prepared him for his first taste of independence at Oak Hill. In those uncharted waters, the opportunity of a lifetime awaits.

"I was thinking about sleeping in the gym when I get down there," he said. "That's how dedicated I am to working hard (and) perfecting my craft."

Reach recruiting reporter Brooks Holton at bholton@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @brooksHolton.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kaden Magwood on leaving Western High School for Oak Hill basketball


The Latest from our Partners