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2015 0130 invitational

Huntington Prep’s Tomas Bryant (24) puts in a shot as his team takes on New Hope (N.C.) during the Huntington Invitational on Jan. 29, 2015, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Huntington Prep head coach Arkell Bruce announced on Thursday afternoon that his program will not compete in the 2020-21 basketball season.

Bruce, who confirmed the decision to Rivals’ Corey Evans, said the decision is based off the current COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of the future of the 2020-21 season.

Bruce also told Evans that the plan is to resume a national schedule for the 2021-22 season.

The decision to not play this year offers Huntington Prep some flexibility in trying to establish its new academic partner, plus not risk losing money in a season that will likely be altered by the current pandemic status.

Huntington Prep travels to many of its game locations for tournament play, which is a risky venture at this point in time with the concerns surrounding COVID-19.

Some states have travel restrictions and mandated self-quarantines, which would make playing a full schedule in an efficient manner a difficult venture from a logistical and financial perspective.

Huntington Prep’s announcement is the first of what will likely be many for some of the nation’s top prep programs who play a national schedule, but the announcement comes at a time for transition within the program after last month’s announcement that St. Joseph Central and Huntington Prep were ending their relationship.

The relationship between the program and the school lasted several years, but after recent administrative change, St. Joseph decided to end its relationship with Huntington Prep following the 2019-20 year.

St. Joseph principal Carol Templeton cited the program failed to uphold its financial obligations to the school as the reasoning behind the decision.

Bruce confirmed at the time of the announcement that Huntington Prep did indeed owe the school $54,000, which was brought on by mid-semester exits due to COVID-19, but the program has always paid in full and planned to do so once again for the 2019-20 season.

Bruce also said that the program and its players paid $65,000 in 2019-20 and have generated over $1 million in tuition revenue for the school during the program’s tenure, as well.

Following the decision by Templeton, the St. Joseph Advisory Council and the Department of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bruce set his sights on finding a new home for the program.

Bruce was reportedly in discussions with local Christian schools, Catholic schools and a school in Ohio, but given the volatile status of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of the 2020-21 high school basketball season, the decision was reached to forgo this season and set the sights on the future.

Over its tenure in Huntington, Huntington Prep has consistently been one of the nation’s top programs, finishing ranked in the USA Today Super 25 on several occasions and featuring some of the nation’s top talent on an annual basis.

Many of those talents have gone on to success at the collegiate and professional levels.

Currently, NBA players coming from Huntington Prep include former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins (Golden State), Memphis Grizzlies center Gorgui Dieng, Charlotte small forward Miles Bridges and Washington center Thomas Bryant.

Last season, Huntington Prep finished 22-9 overall and had five players sign National Letters of Intent with Division I programs.

Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter at @PAdkinsBanner or email him at padkins@hdmediallc.com