Jermel President wasn’t originally planning to measure Oceanside’s inaugural season by wins and losses, but when one outweighs the over so heavily, it’s hard to ignore.
“I’m really at a loss for words when I think about this season,” the Landsharks’ first-year head coach said. “Accomplishing what we have in such a short amount of time is really unheard of.”
Oceanside doesn’t have its own gym. President had never been a head coach before. But he quickly assembled a hodgepodge of transfers from across the Lowcountry, and over the next few months groomed them into one of the state’s winningest teams.
The Landsharks finished their inaugural campaign 18-3 overall against a medley of competition. Big schools, small schools, private, public, charter, whoever; Oceanside would come to them and more often than not, leave with a victory.
Just a small handful of teams in the state finished the regular season with fewer losses than the Landsharks. Despite the impressive debut, though, Oceanside was left out of the postseason, ineligible to compete in the playoffs until the 2018-19 season.
“We could’ve easily ended up 3-18,” President said. “But the players bought in. We treated each game like our playoff game. Our seniors took a chance on Oceanside and believed in me, believed in the system, the direction and trusted that it would work. The plan is there.”
One of the most important pieces to the puzzle was Cathedral Academy transfer Greg Archie. The 6-foot senior guard led the Landsharks with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists per night. President credits Archie’s leadership for much of the Landsharks’ success, especially in the early goings.
Oceanside won the Military Magnet Thanksgiving Tournament championship to open the season and went on to win eight of its next nine games before winning two of three in the Modie Risher Classic.
“It felt like we had a huge X on our backs,” Archie said. “Every night we would play games and literally everyone was against us. But we pulled together and stayed as one and kept grinding.”
President is confident that the foundation has been laid for the future. That was a primary goal this season. He’s especially excited about his talented sophomore class that developed nicely throughout the year. Porter-Gaud transfer Shane McCravy, a long 6-4 wing, averaged 12 points and four rebounds, while Greg’s younger brother Archie, a shifty guard, chipped in 10 points per night.
McCravy and Archie’s senior year will be the first that Oceanside is eligible to compete in the postseason. By then, the charter school will have its own gym, which obviously means home games but also offseason training and strength programs. President also hopes to have expanded its schedule by then to include marquee out-of-state competition.
“We never wanted to put limitations on anything, so I can’t say I’m surprised this season,” President said. “Preparation is key to any battle. The hard thing now is keeping that up. That pressure to keep the momentum going.”
Success attracts attention, and the brighter spotlight could mean better recruiting for Oceanside’s prospective college players. Of the team’s five graduating seniors this year, Archie is receiving most of the attention, and deservedly so. He has a number of college visits and camps scheduled in the coming months and hopes to become the school’s first basketball signee by April or May.
“I had a lot of fun my senior year, and it was similar to how I wanted my senior year to go,” Archie said reflecting on the season. “Knowing what I know now, yeah, I would still choose Oceanside.”