My name is Jordan Ruby and I've been living in the DMV for five years and covering high school sports in the area for four. Varsity News is a weekly feature that reviews all the best local action in a single place, bullet pointed for easy digestion.
As much as I love football, and believe me I do, I am much more excited about basketball season. It has nothing to do with the two sports themselves, but more so with the experience of covering them. You don't have to deal with the weather, it's over in less than two hours and it's a more controlled environment. Everything about it is easier for a sportswriter.
But luckily, it also happens to be one of the best sports to cover in this area. Each year, the D.C. area produces a lot of Division 1 talent. It is among the best basketball hotbeds in the nation. Here are some of the players that have recently becomes stars from this area (and we're not even counting all the players Baltimore has to offer).
- Kevin Durant
- Michael Beasley
- Ty Lawson
- Austin Freeman
- Jeff Green
- Ed Davis
- Patrick Patterson (born here)
- Roy Hibbert
Not bad, huh? There isn't a lot of top level talent in the area this year, but there are plenty of guys who you will be watching over the next four years in college. So let's dive right in and find out which teams are going to be among the best in the D.C. area.
Who they are: Montrose doesn't play a traditional conference schedule, so they aren't really defending any title. They kind of float among all the best conferences in the area and the country and are very successful doing it.
Why you care: A few years ago, Montrose Chirstian had one of the best teams in the country, headlined by Greivis Vazquez! Just kidding, they were led by Kevin Durant. (pause for laughter). They also sent Josh Hairston to Duke last year.
Outlook: Montrose Christian is one of those schools, like DeMatha, that never really has to rebuild. When they lose great players like Hairston, they just go out and get a new player to build their team around.
This year, that guy is Tyrone Johnson. The Villanova commit transferred from Plainfield High School in New Jersey over the summer to get better prepared for playing on the next level. Johnson has great size for a point guard, and because he should have the ball in his hands most of the time, he should make a huge difference for Montrose this season.
What it boils down to, however, is that the roles players at Montrose are simply better than they are at other schools. They may not have the elite talent that they have had in years past, but they have better depth than almost any team in the area.
Who they are: A powerhouse in nearly every sport, DeMatha won the WCAC last year and the City Title game over Ballou.
Why you care: They're arguably the most accomplished high school program in the country. Their legendary coach Morgan Wootten moved on long ago, but they have maintained success under new coach Mike Jones. Notable alumni include Georgetown's Austin Freeman, Adrian Dantley, NCAA coaches Sidney Lowe and Mike Brey and much more.
Outlook: Just like football season, this is the school that you can assume would be on this list even before clicking on the link. They have lost a lot of the talent from last year's WCAC Championship team (Victor Oladipo went to Indiana and Quinn Cook transferred to Oak Hill), but they still have plenty of talent and have to be seen as one of the best teams in the area.
This year they will be led by junior combo guard James Robinson and Georgetown-bound big man Mikael Hopkins. Hopkins is a very long and athletic and can really block shots. He'll anchor the team both offensively and defensively, while Robinson capitalizes on the attention he'll receive. Robinson is a great scorer, and should have the ball in his hands most of the time. If the other players on their team can step up, they'll have an excellent chance to repeat as the City Champions.
Who they are: DeMatha's main challenger in the WCAC and their biggest rival historically.
Why you care: They have a rich tradition of sending players to Division I programs. They had two players who were selected to the Washington Post's All-Met team last year in Cedrick Lindsay and Tyler Thornton, who are now attending Richmond and Duke, respectively.
Outlook: This year is all about bouncing back. They had the best the best backcourt in the area last year. Thornton and Lindsay were each good enough to beat teams single handedly. Put them together, and they were too much for any team to contain. They won't have the luxury of leaning on those two players this year.
It's all about finding that next guy for Gonzaga. They don't have a guy that jumps off the page as a sure-fire talent capable of dragging a team to the WCAC Championship. But based on their history of success, they can't be counted out just yet. They always find some way to put enough talent on the floor to remain relevant. I just don't want to be the guy who counted them out when they are competing for a City Title later this year.
Who they are: Gwynn park made the Maryland 2A Championship game last year. Like many of the teams on this list, it isn't necessarily where they finished, but how much talent they were able to retain.
Why you care: They have a yellow jacket mascot that is a better dancer than I could ever hope to be in regular clothes. If you're wondering, that means that they don't have a lot of very famous alumni. But the dancing! It really is spectacular ...
Outlook: Once again, Gwynn Park will be among the better teams in the area because they were able to retain a lot of the talent that got them where they were last year.
They'll be led by Tion Barnes, which is both a good and bad thing. Barnes is an incredible athlete at 6'4" and might be the best finisher in the area. He is an absolute menace in the open court. But he isn't really capable of getting his own shot, so if Gwynn Park is stagnant on offense, they can't go to him for buckets time and time again.
If he can add some offensive diversity to his game, than he might be able to be that guy. But for now, he's just somebody who will beat his opponent based on his athleticism, which can only take you so far.
Who they are: They reached the Maryland State Final last year and return much of the talent that helped them get there.
Why you care: They're located in the heart of basketball crazy Prince George's County. Delonte West is probably their most famous alumni basketball-wise, but Martin Lawrence and Sergey Brinn (one of the Google guys) also went there so that has to count for something.
Outlook: Roosevelt will be led by their two swingmen, junior Chaun Miller and senior Prince Okoroh. They're trademark is their defensive versatility.
Both Miller and Okoroh have the quickness to check points guards, and size and defensive tenacity to cover centers. When they are both out on the floor, it is very difficult for their opponents to get baskets.
Miller is also an excellent shooter, and can be a go-to scorer when he gets in rhythm. Okoroh is more of a garbage man on offense, but a very effective one nonetheless. Roosevelt will go as far as these two can take them, and that should be pretty far.