Milton’s Vincent Osazee, the state’s top 2026 basketball prospect, is flourishing with Reason Prep Academy

Sports News

Reason Prep Basketball Academy is on the rise in year two. Photo by Trevor Hass

With practice winding down, and all eyes fixated on him in the fourth-floor gymnasium of the Northampton Square complex in the South End, Vincent Osazee stepped to the free throw line as his teammates playfully serenaded him with “Over-rated!” chants.

The 16-year-old Osazee didn’t seem to mind. As the state’s top player in the Class of 2026, and No. 65 on Rivals’ list in his graduating class, Osazee is used to the spotlight. He calmly swished both shots, then gave his teammates a lighthearted smirk to remind them that this was light work.

With the emergence of Osazee, Boston-based Reason Prep Academy has something to prove in Year 2 competing independently against prep schools and other elite New England programs. Reason Prep, which opened its season Saturday against Busche Academy (Chester, N.H.), provides training, study hall, community service, and mentoring opportunities to predominantly inner-city players with a zest for basketball.

The 6-foot-8-inch Osazee, a four-star prospect who grew up in Ireland and moved to Milton at age 11, discovered basketball at 12 and has exploded onto the national scene over the past year. He already has offers from Rutgers, Arizona State, George Mason, and more, and high 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, in one year he’s just skyrocketed.”

Before Osazee discovered basketball, he played soccer, ran track, and shined 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 nearly every tall person has heard at some point.

“Do you play basketball?”

“I picked up a basketball,” Osazee said, “and it changed my life.”

Osazee recalled his first three-on-two, two-on-one drill, and the rush he got as he laid the ball up and into the hoop. He first dunked in eighth grade and started taking his craft more seriously. That’s when it truly clicked that he could turn this into something more than a hobby.

He ratcheted his training to the next level and started waking up as early as 4:30 or 5 a.m. to get to the court by 6. Now, Osazee — who has a 4.0 grade-point average at Milton High School and commutes to the South End for basketball — takes close to 10,000 shots per week.

In August, Osazee burst onto the scene at the CP3 Rising Stars National Camp in North Carolina, and he has kept that momentum ever since. He’s proud of himself for how far he’s come and is ensuring he unlocks his full potential.

Teammate Treyvon Morning, a postgrad guard from Dorchester, likened Osazee’s game to that of Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, in that he’s 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’s 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 home and face premier 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 happen. It’s all about how you recover.

McKinney, a Jamaica Plain native, has devoted his life to helping local athletes avoid falling into the same traps 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, as well. Some players pay, but none more than $3,500, and the goal is to include anyone who fits in well with the culture.

With help from assistant Jacob Wren, McKinney recruited many of his AAU players and added a few others. 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 the postgrad guard Elbeik are a few of many others with noticeable talent.

Lang, who unleashed a lethal behind-the-back stepback at practice, already has an offer from High Point University. Howell has a killer crossover and special feel for the game. The 6-5 Elbeik, a Jamaica Plain resident who glides around the court and features an elite fadeaway, has garnered interest from UMass Lowell and Stonehill.

McKinney is all about providing kids who love the game, and need a space to get buckets, with an outlet. The gym isn’t glamorous, but it has hoops, basketballs, and coaches and players who care deeply.

“Coach T was one of the first coaches to ever believe in me and my ability,” Elbeik said, “so coming here was a no-brainer. We’re here to get better and go out this year and prove everybody wrong.”