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A player who I plan on watching this upcoming season is 6-1 180 sophomore quarterback Ross Metheny of Stephens City, Virginia's Sherando High School, a Group AA school which he passed for 1,918 yards as a freshman starter on the varsity this past year. He's one to watch!

    Sorry I haven't updated this for awhile. Back to the world of recruiting, 6-2 freshman point guard Kenneth Leatherwood of Charlottesville High School had a fine year on the varsity, and could be an ACC prospect of the future to watch. If you know of any other players who are ACC prospects to watch who played on the high school varsity level this season, please email me at

    Could not go see 6-1 222-lbs. Class of 2007 running back Lamar Stewart of Essex High School in Tappahannock, Virginia play last night at home against Sussex Central High. In his team's second game the week before, he had rushed for 167 yards in an upset loss. By the way, anyone who has information on players who are being recruited is invited to email me at and I'll email back. Thanks.

    I'm going to see 6-1 222-lbs. Class of 2007 running back Lamar Stewart of Essex High School in Tappahannock, Virginia play this Friday night.

"The Sporting News SchoolSports High School Football Magazine" that's on the newsstands now lists him as one of America's top 100 11th-graders. Essex High School is in Group A (the smallest classification in the state of Virginia: schools of under 500 students) I'll have more to report soon. According to the website "" in Lamar Stewart's first game this season, he ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns, in a season-opening 42-0 win over Middlesex High.

    I went to see 6-5 215 Class of 2007 quarterback Deck McGuire Deep Run High School in Richmond, Virginia play tonight.

He's considered the second-best prospect on his squad, behind Class of 2006 University of Virginia-bound tight end-defensive lineman Sean Gottschalk. Sean Gottschalk is as good as advertised, and looks as big as his listed 6-5 275 pounds. And he's fast. But Deck McGuire may be an even better prospect.

I'd go as far as to say that Deck McGuire could be one of the top 5 prospects in the state of Virginia in the Class of 2007. He's as big as his listed 6-5 (maybe taller?), and he could be growing. He effortlessly zips the ball anywhere. His receivers drop his passes, not because he throws it too hard, but because he has a college arm, and he's throwing to high school-caliber receivers.

His team won 21-7. He threw two touchdown passes. He wore number 18. This is possibly a future ACC quarterback. Will Virginia and Virginia Tech have a battle for his services?

According to "The Richmond Times-Dispatch," he threw six touchdown passes in 6 games as a sophomore last season. A fan told me that he was sharing the QB position with a senior. But although it's too early to be saying it, this could be a future NFL player-in-the making. The physical tools are all there.

    Recruiting analyst Max Emfinger for "The Sporting News SchoolSports 2005-06 High School Football Magazine" picked one high school freshman in America to watch this season.

He's 6-2 180 quarterback Alan Castro of Cave Spring High School in Roanoke, Virginia. Roanoke, Virginia is located in western, Virginia. Cave Spring High School is the mid-sized (Group AA) high school in Virginia, where Duke All-American basketball player J. J. Redick attended.

So, I decided to go see Alan Castro play in the first varsity game of the first game of his freshman season. The Cave Spring High School Knights were playing on the road against Staunton River High School of Moneta, Virginia. Staunton River went 0-10 last season (the 2004-05 season). Moneta, Virginia is a small town where the high school, a county high school, is located. It's a nice school, but the stadium is old. There was an enthusiastic and packed crowd there. They had a brand-new coach from New Jersey, whose brother is an assistant at the University of Virginia.

I arrived three hours before the 7:30 P.M. kickoff, on September 2, 2005. It was a nice high school, but had a rusty fence and rusty garbage cans that surrounded an odd field, a field that had the highest ridge in the center that I've ever seen: you almost could be laying down on one sideline, and not be able to see a player laying down on the other sideline!

Alan Castro came out, and he's a fiery, very confident, assured player. He wears number 15. The first Cave Spring Knights "fan" to show up in the visiting team's bleachers told me that Alan's dad was an ex-University of Miami player, and also a Cave Spring assistant football coach, and that Alan Castro had been a big star at the "Pee-Wee" level in Roanoke. He also said that Alan Castro had just gotten a "recruiting letter" from the University of Michigan. (According to NCAA rules, you're not even allowed to send out recruiting letters until a player has started his junior year, aren't you? So, hopefully this "recruiting letter" was just a false rumor.)

Actually, the game program listed Alan Castro at 5-10 165, which looked to be accurate.

Cave Spring High had red football pants, white shirts with black numerals (with red outlines), and black helmets, socks, and shoes. Staunton River High School had black pants, socks, shoes, and jerseys, but they had gold helmets and gold numerals on their jerseys.

Still, psychologically, there seems to be something about colorful school colors that causes more players to go out for the team, I've noticed. So, why do teams insist on having school colors like black, brown, grey, anyway?

Alan Castro didn't start, but he came in on 4th down and 9 of the first series, handed the ball off, and the running back surprised the defense by running for a first down, as the Cave Spring visiting fans roared.

Near the end of the first half, the freshman Alan Castro threw a perfect pass that was dropped. On the next play, he was sacked for a loss. He then threw a nice spiral on an incomplete pass. At the end of three quarters, the score was 0-0, so this was a fairly dull game.

Castro's team used him on the punting team to run downfield on at least one occasion after a Cave Spring punt.

Alan Castro was only 0-3 passing this game, (Cave Spring won, 14-0) and he shared quarterbacking duties with a 6-4 senior, but you can see his potential. He wears number 15, and has strong legs. I noticed that when he throws the ball, he has the talent of putting his entire body behind each throw, and when he catches the ball he puts his entire body behind each catch. And he seems to have "sticky" hands: he never drops a catch while warming up.

You can tell that Alan Castro is someone who grew up with the sport of football, and that he's mature way beyond his years, on and off the field. A player to keep an eye on for Staunton River High was 6-5 230 junior offensive lineman Charlie Gray, a 6-5 230 right guard.

So, only time will tell. However, for "The Sporting News" to pick him as THE only high school freshman in the country to watch is quite a compliment. So, we'll have to just watch and see how he does. It should be interesting!

    Within an hour of returning from attemping to see 6-2 200 junior quarterback Nick Gorman of J.R. Tucker High School of Richmond, Virginia scrimmage, a classmate of his told me that he actually is attending Mills Godwin High of Richmond this year, which went 10-0 last season. "The Sporting News High School Football Magazine" hit the newsstands so early that it was incorrect. It lists Nick Gorman as being one of America's top 100 juniors for the 2005-06 season.

    The 2005-06 high school football season started tonight in the state of Virginia! I went to see 6-2 200 junior quarterback Nick Gorman of J.R. Tucker High School of Richmond, Virginia play on the road against James River High of Midlothian, Virginia. However, I was unable to arrive in time for the 7:00 P.M. scrimmage between the two Group AAA (largest classification in Virginia) schools. Oh well! I'll have to allow myself more time next week. Nick Gorman is rated by "The Sporting News SchoolSports High School Football Magazine" that's on the newsstands now as one of America's top 100 11th-graders. Nick Gorman is one of 16 quarterbacks to make the list, and one of just 4 players from the state of Virginia in the top 100 juniors.

    I was wondering why Top 10-in-the-nation rising senior 6-9 220 forward Vernon "Big Ticket" Macklin of Portmouth, Virginia I. C. Norcom High School, and outstanding rising senior combination 6-3 guard Stefan Welsh of two-time Group AAA basketball state champion Woodside High of Newport News, Virginia would both "break the mold" and head to Hargrave Military Academy of Chatham, Virginia instead of the nation's top basketball program, Oak Hill Academy of Mouth-Of-Wilson, Virginia, for their senior years, so I emailed Stefan Welsh to ask him. Was it because he was going to play football for Hargrave in addition to basketball? After all, Oak Hill has no football team. He responded:

"Hello Mr. Kane , I have decided to transfer to Hargrave (I will be playing with the post-grad team under Coach Kevin Keats ) over Oak Hill for many reasons. They offered me a partial scholarship and Hargrave offered me a full. Coach Keats is a very good coach and we developed a good relationship. I think that I will be in a a more impact role at Hargrave. I took visits to both schools and then I felt Hargrave would a better situation for the both of us. I think that Hargrave will prepare me better to go be an impact player my freshman year of the college I choose. I will be surrounded with about 9 division 1 players. Will be one of the top teams in the country. I hope I answered all of your questions: feel free to drop an email anytime."

    One interesting player who I have seen play for his high school team in Virginia, Julian Vaughn of South Lakes High in Reston, Virginia, I was unable to see play in the "Southern Invitational AAU Tournament" (put on by Dennis Kazimir of Charlottesville, Virginia due to my schedule. However, it was interesting to note that he was listed now as being 6-10, up from the 6-8 he was listed this past season as a sophomore! A resident of Vienna, Virginia (a city in northern Virginia, not too far from Washington, D.C.), Julian Vaughn is a great prospect (strength, co-ordination, shooting ability, moves, getting great high school coaching, etc.) who may just be the top prospect in the Virginia Class of 2006. He is a must recruit for the Division 1 colleges in the state of Virginia, including Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia!

I purposely went to see the 16-And-Under "Virginia Prep Stars" AAU boy's basketball team play a half of a game, because their roster listed 5 players who will be playing next year for large-school (Group AAA) Woodside High School, which has won the last two state championships. However, I soon learned that under tournament rules, no more than two players from the same high school team are permitted to play on the same AAU team. For this reason, most of the Woodside High School players were not present. Thus, the "VA Prep Stars" team was not very good, to be honest.

A Woodside High School player who was there, 6-8 (he looked at least 6-9) Bradon Braxton of Cape Charles, Virginia, who wore number 55, and who was a sophomore this past year, appears to be still-growing. He did not play well. What else can I say? But you can't teach height!

    On May 6-8, 2005 when hundreds of top high schoolers came to the UVa campus for the "Southern Invitational" 17-And-Under and 16-And-Under Amateur-Athletic-Union tournament put on by the "" recently. I went to see the future of high school basketball in Virginia (and the future of Virginia Tech and University of Virginia men's college basketball in Virginia?): The Boo Williams "16-And-Under Boy's-Summer-League-Chatman Team." Chatman is the business that is the sponsor of the team.

These players are basically kids who were in the 9th and 10th grades this year in the eastern part of Virginia. The most impressive player seemed to be 6-3 (he appeared to be 6-4 and 220 pounds) shooting guard-small forward Frank Hassell, a resident of Chesapeake, Virginia who played for Norfolk Collegiate School this past year. Wearing number 21, Hassell looks to be a future ACC target, in my opinion. With long arms and legs and a muscular body, he has a right-handed jump shot but can shoot left-handed hooks around the basket. He can score in a variety of ways, and reminds me of former University of Virginia player Mel Kennedy.

Also impressive was number 12, 6-2 combination guard Andre Jones , a freshman this past season for Suffolk, Virginia's Nansemond River High School. Andre Jones showed that he could hit the three-point jump shot, drive to the basket, and also hit a turnaround jumper while closely-guarded. He could be an ACC-caliber player if he keeps improving.

6-6 Denzel Bowles , a sophomore this season for Virginia Beach, VA Bayside High School, showed that he can score around the basket with his jumping ability and long arms. He could be a scoring machine in his last two years of high school ball, and might continue to grow.

The 'Boo Williams Summer League-Chatman 16-And-Under Boy's Basketball Team' jumped out to an 11-4 lead, increased it to 24-14, and then led 53-35 at the half. I left at halftime to go see another game involving another team from the state of Virginia. Blue-chip football quarterback Tyrod Taylor of Hampton High School (he's already been offered a football scholarship by Virginia Tech), was a 6-2 190 sophomore this past year, and he also plays hoops for the Crabbers. I don't consider him to be an ACC basketball prospect at this point, although he has an ACC basketball body. He sees the court well, and is a fine passer. Only time will tell if he develops the moves with the basketball that would move him up to the level of being an ACC prospect in basketball. Football may be his sport in the collegiate ranks.

Tyrod Taylor's basketball teammate at Hampton, Virginia High, fellow sophomore Reginald 'P.J.' Hicks, looked even better. The well-proportioned 6-3 Hicks wears number 3 and has an all-around game that makes him capable of playing Division 1 college basketball right now. He could be an ACC prospect eventually. He's an all-around guard who has the strength to play college defense.

Number 33, 6-6 Nicholas 'Nic' Wright of Nansemond River High School in Suffolk, Virginia, immediately scored on a nice spin move with his back to the basket upon entering the game when his team was leading 16-11. Wright has ACC potential.

These are some of the next generation of Boo Williams' stars, and college basketball fans in the state of Virginia will be hearing from them: they'll be joined by other players from around-the-state who grow and decide to try out.

    I normally report only on high school players from the state of Virginia. But following the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech mostly, it's been so rare to see good high school players playing for colleges in the state of Virginia, that it was a treat to see the player considered the top player in the Class of 2007 playing on the campus of the University of Virginia. His name? O.J. Mayo (wearing number 32) of North College Hill High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. O.J. Mayo was recently the only high school sophomore to make the 40-player 'Parade High School All-America Boy's Basketball Team' that recently came out for the 2004-05 season. If you've never seen O.J. Mayo , I would describe him as having medium skin, a large Adam's apple, being a tall point-guard, a fine all-around player, and very mature for his age. He's a marketing dream.

His teammate at North College Hill, 6-6 Bill Walker (wearing number 15), ( Mayo is listed at 6-4), is also a member of the Class of 2007, and is also rated among the nation's top 5 members of the Class of 2007! Both Walker and Mayo are members of the "D-1 Greyhounds," which competed in the "Southern Invitational," the boys AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball tournament put on by "," on the campus of the University of Virginia on the dates of May 6-8, 2005.

I went to see the D-1 Greyhounds, a 17-and-under boys basketball AAU team from the Cincinnati, Ohio area (composed of players from high school from that general area), take on a Washington, D.C.-area team.

The D-1 Greyhounds fell behind 38-34 at the half, but won 78-64. Mayo and Walker rarely played in the first half: I don't know why. But in the second half, they showed why they are so highly-regarded. Although Mayo only finished with 12 points, and Walker with just 14, it wasn't really the points, but the aura they displayed: the elbow-throwing, electrifying Bill Walker is already regarded as the greatest leaper in the high school ranks. Not much of a mid-range shooter or ball-handler, he's a highlight film on the court, a dunking machine who reminds me of former North Carolina State national collegiate Player-Of-The-Year David Thompson from the 1970's!

O.J. Mayo doesn't seem to have the athleticism to jusify his ranking as the top high school player in the nation for the 2006-07 class, but still, he should be in the top 5 nationally for that age group: he does it all. He's a Kobe Bryant -type player. (Or maybe Kobe Bryant will one day be considered an O.J. Mayo -type player?!) He has extreme all-around intelligence on the court.

No doubt that both O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker are going to follow the present trend and go straight from high school to the NBA after their senior seasons of high school ball at North College High School in Cincinnati, Ohio following their 2006-07 senior season.

As I mention, scout, and concentrate mostly on 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade boys high school football and basketball players in the state of Virginia, I went to the campus of the University of Virginia on Friday, May 6, 2005, to see the "Southern Invitational Tournament," a large Amateur Athletic Union boys basketball tournament for 17-and-under and 16-and-under teams from the eastern part of the country, which was put on by basketball scout Bob Gibbons and ""

I first went to the University of Virginia's old University Hall (built in 1965, but the new 15,000-seat 'John Paul Jones Event Center' across the street will be ready for the 2006-07 season) and observed the team that everyone was there to see, the famous 'Boo Williams ' team, the Boo Williams Summer League Team, beat the I-270 Red basketball team, 89-41, after leading 48-32, at the half. The I-270 Red basketball team was composed of players from the Maryland/Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia area.

For the Boo Williams Summer League team, rising senior Scottie Reynolds of Herndon High, who earned 1st-team All-State honors in Group AAA this past year, as he averaged over 33 points-per-game (!), looked great, although it's obvious that his jumping ability is still recovering from a major late-season leg injury he suffered this year. Reynolds also was a rare "Washington Post" 1st-team All-Metro pick as a junior this year.

Vernon "Big-Ticket" Macklin , a 6-9 jumping jack for I.C. Norcum High of Portsmouth, Virginia was his usual leaping self for Boo Williams . He appears headed to Hargrave Military Academy in southern Virginia for his senior year, and then probably straight to the NBA. Not a good shot-blocker for his height, he still has unlimited athletic ability which makes him impossible to guard with his back to the basket. He just jumps over anyone, regardless of their quickness or height. He made the "Virginia High School Coach's Association" 1st-team All-State team on the Group AAA (largest high schools) squad this season, and was also the "Virginian-Pilot And Ledger Star" Player-Of-The-Year.

The starting lineup for the Boo Williams Summer League Virginia squad, which is informally considered the nation's best 17-and-under AAU team in the country this year, is: 6-3 (long-armed) rising senior Eric Hayes (already verbally-committed to the University of Maryland) of Potomac High in Dumfries, VA, 6-3 floor-leader Stephan Welsh (a rising senior at two-time large-school state champion Woodside High of Newport News, VA); muscular rising senior 6-0 scoring machine Scottie Reynolds (already verbally-committed to the University of Oklahoma) of Herndon, Virginia High; 6-9 pogo-stick Vernon Macklin (the rising senior from I.C. Norcom of Portsmouth, VA); and 6-7 pointed-bearded Duke Crews of Bethel High in Hampton, VA (a powerful rising senior who physically looks 25 years-old).

I wanted to see Karolis Petrukonis , the 6-11 center who was a junior this year for Norfolk Collegiate High, but he was not there. I have not seen him play yet, although he supposedly is an ACC-caliber prospect, but only because of his height. Another player who was not there for the game was a player I've seen many times, 2nd-team All-State John "Lewis" Witcher , for Group AAA Franklin County High in Rocky Mount, Virginia, who is 6-8 220. Witcher is an outstanding student who already has ACC basketball offers, unlike Karolis Petrukonis .

An impressive-looking specimen who is still needs to develop as a basketball player is rising senior 6-8 Jamel McLean of Bethel High, a teammate of Duke Crews .

Listed at 6-8 or 6-7, Kenny Belton of Salem High School in the Roanoke, Virginia area appears to be 6-6 1/2 and 235 pounds. Kenny Belton was just a tenth-grader this past season. Has the physique of a professional body-builder, but has never shown that he can put the basketball on the floor. This led to him having a disappointing sophomore season. Has a perfect-looking free-throw form.


Well, the University of Virginia has hired it's new basketball coach, Dave Leito, who will most assuredly bring his outstanding coaching staff from DePaul University with him. What does his future at the University of Virginia hold? Hopefully not another 4-24 record, which was then followed by his resignation after his second season at Northeastern University. After 5 years as a head coach at Northeastern University and DePaul University, he made the NCAA tournament once, and the NIT twice.

Dave Leitao is the first African-American to ever hold a head coaching job at the University of Virginia.

A college is only allowed 2 full-time assistants. One of them will certainly be Gene Cross, Leitao's top assistant at DePaul. A former University of Illinois player from a Chicago-area high school, Gene Cross currently serves as President on the "National Association of Basketball Coaches" (NABC) Assistant Coaches Board and he is also a member of the "Black Coaches Association", and has been with Leito for all 3 seasons at DePaul. One full-time assistant, and one part-time assistant, will likely be from these two DePaul coaches: Tyler Jones, a African-American who is a former Continential Basketball Association "Coach-Of-The-Year," who earlier played for Hartford college, and who's been with Leitao for 3 years; or Josh Oppenheimer, who's also been on Leitao's DePaul staff for 3 years. A native of Los Angeles, Oppenheimer got his start in coaching by spending 10 years as the head coach of the (well-known in high school basketball circles) L.A. Rockfish, one of America's top AAU programs. Josh Oppenheimer is known as a good recruiter.

Maybe a graduate assistant will be Joe Tulley, a member of Leitao's staff at DePaul for two seasons, and a former DePaul player from Rockford, IL High.

It will be interesting to see if Coach Leitao decides to recruit any of the rising blue-chip junior or senior high school basketball players in the state of Virginia. If he attracts their interest, would he need to do something to free up scholarships at the University of Virginia, such as encourage one of the incoming freshmen to look elsewhere? Should he be allowed by UVa and/or the NCAA to do something to free up scholarships? waiting for?!


Looking at the so-called candidates for the University of Virginia basketball opening, none of the names mentioned seem very exciting. How about Steve Smith, the head basketball coach at Oak Hill Academy in southern Virginia? He not only deals with high school blue-chippers each day, but he is on-campus with them each day: Oak Hill is a private boarding school.

True, the University of Maryland once hired a high school coach, Bob Wade, but Bob Wade was a good high school coach, not a great one. And Bob Wade operated a small-time high school program, not a big-time program. And Bob Wade ran it for a brief period, not a long period of time. There are really no comparisons between Bob Wade and Steve Smith .

The way I see it, Steve Smith would be a better fit for the University of Virginia than University of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith would be, due to his constant connection with the world of blue-chip high school basketball!

From the Oak Hill Academy website at "Coach Smith has been named the "USA Today National Coach-Of-The-Year three times (1994, 1999,2004). He has 600 wins in twenty years of coaching at Oak Hill. Coach Smith's Oak Hill Warriors have been crowned National High School Champions five times (1993, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004). He has coached nineteen McDonalds All-Americans's and has had seventeen former players drafted by the NBA."

Steve Smith's 94% winning percentage (600-34) is THE highest in American high school history. That would be the highest in collegiate history. That would also be the highest in professional history. It would probably be the highest in international history. It would be the highest, I suppose in basketball history, women's or men's. So the question is not, "Should the University of Virginia hire a high school coach to coach the men's varsity basketball team?" The question should perhaps be, "Why is Craig Littlepage wasting his time talking to all these other coaches?"

What is University of Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage waiting for?!

The nation's top boy's high school basketball program is Oak Hill Academy in Mouth-Of-Wilson, Virginia, which is located west of Martinsville, Virginia, just north of the North Carolina border, in southwestern Virginia.

"USA Today" has picked Oak Hill Academy as the nation's top boy's basketball team at the end of each of the last two basketball seasons.

Oak Hill Academy attracts it's basketball players from all over the world, but mostly from the eastern half of the country. This year, Oak Hill Academy had three players make the 40-man "2005 Parade High School All-America Boys Basketball Team." To my knowledge, no high school has ever placed three players on the 40-man Parade High School All-America Boys Basketball Team in one year. It's composed of players from all ages, unlike the "McDonald's High School All-America Boy's Basketball Team," which is composed of just seniors.

(It's interesting to note that in the "McDonald's High School All-America Girl's Basketball Team," the only girl headed to a university within the state of Virginia is headed to the University of Richmond! Crystal Goring, a 6-3 185 senior center from a boarding school called "The Peddie School" in Highstown, New Jersey, is actually from Port of Spain, Trinidad, and has signed with the University of Richmond Spiders. Just as in men's basketball, Virginia Tech and UVa don't appear to have recruited very well in women's recruiting against Duke and North Carolina this season either.)

From the state of Virginia, two seniors and one junior made the Parade team this year. The junior is 6-9 11th-grader Kevin Durant, a fascinating player who can literally play all 5 positions on a high school or college basketball court. The baby-faced Durant was just 16 years-old during the past season, so he really was the age of a 10th-grader, not a junior. Kevin Durant actually lives in Suitland, Maryland and transferred to Oak Hill Academy from National Christian School, which is located in Ft. Washington, Maryland, prior to his junior year. He does it all, including slick ball-handling and terrific 3-point shooting. The fact that college recruiters picked him as the eleventh-best high school player in the country this year although he was just a junior shows you how highly-regarded he is in their eyes. There is also a very good chance that despite his young age and relative lack of physical strength that he might go directly to the NBA after his 2005-06 high school senior year.

Obviously, when the University of Virginia fills it's men's basketball coaching vacancy, it's crucial that the new coach be able to recruit well at Oak Hill Academy every year or so, even though most of Oak Hill's players attend Oak Hill for just one year, and are not products of the state of Virginia.

This requires getting to know the coaching staff and administration of Oak Hill Academy. But it also means that when players from all over America come to Oak Hill Academy, they usually already have an idea beforehand what college basketball powerhouse they want to attend after their one year at Oak Hill. It's going to be up to the new coach at UVa to talk the players out of that, and convince them that the University of Virginia might be a better choice. Easier said than done.

Is recruiting well at Oak Hill Academy just as essential for Virginia Tech head men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg? Yes! It's the only realistic way that UVa or Virginia Tech can compete with Duke and North Carolina.

I saw Robert E. Lee High play on "championship Saturday" at the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond on Saturday, March 18, 2005. It was one of the 6 high school boys or girls Virginia state championship basketball games held that day, 5 of which I saw. The Leemen beat the Greensville County High School Eagles, 74-55.

One of the many Crawford's who have played sports for R. E. Lee High, 11th-grader Eli Crawford was in action. Eli Crawford's cousin, 6-4 freshman Tyler Crawford, plays basketball for Georgetown University. ( Eli Crawford was recently named the "Group AA Boy's Basketball Player-Of-The-Year" in the state of Virginia for 2004-05). Eli Crawford poured in 28 points, and Robert E. Lee finished the year with a 31-0 record, the most wins ever for a Virginia High School League (public schools) team.

Eli Crawford wears jersey number 3, is 6-1 195, and also is a star defensive back-kick returner-wide receiver in football. R. E. Lee obviously patterns it's uniforms after the old-style University of North Carolina uniforms: they had white uniforms with blue v-shaped collars. Greensville High wore green uniforms that had bright yellow numerals and yellow stripes on the outer sides of the uniforms.

Robert E. Lee won this game, extending their winning streak to 55 consecutive wins. Crawford is being recruited by many Division 1 schools, but is not considered ACC material just yet in basketball. However, he is considered ACC football material.

Are academics an issue?

Not a pure penetrating point guard. Not a pure jump shooter. However, he's physically very strong, and a fine player. He plays both guard positions, and is a good rebounder and defensive player for a point guard.

For next year, Eli Crawford's cousin, 6-2 point guard/shooting guard Ryan Crawford , who is also a junior this year in 2004-05, also projects as a Division 1 basketball prospect, and is a player to watch. Ryan Crawford is very strong and energetic and wears jersey number 1.

Another junior, J. R. Ware , played some for R. E. Lee. J. R. Ware, 6-5 240, is strictly a college football prospect, and will be on a lot of ACC football recruiting lists next season as a lineman/linebacker.

Still another junior, 6-4 210 Allan Williams , who wore number 50 for Greensville County High, and who went on to make first-team All-State in basketball this year for the Eagles, did not show in this game that he had the perimeter skills to play Division 1 basketball at the collegiate level. Maybe he'll show that in his senior year at Greensville High, however. He was the Region 1 Player-Of-The-Year.

In the state of Virginia, all 6 state championship basketball games are played on one final day. The first game I saw on "state championship Saturday" (March 12, 2005) was the first of the six games: the second half of the Group A (smallest high schools in Virginia: they have enrollments mostly of less than 500 students) boy's state final between Twin Springs High and Surry County High. Twin Springs High is located near the state of Tennessee, while Surry County is located near the Atlantic Ocean! It would be hard to find two Group A schools in Virginia that have less in common and are farther away from each other.

I specifically went to see 11th-grade 6-5 240 football/basketball prospect Edward Barham, (he is shown shooting in the photo at left, courtesy of Rob Ostermaier of the Newport News "Daily Press") play for Surry County High of Dendron, Virginia. There were no game programs available. The Virginia High School League hadn't had enough printed up, and by Saturday they were all sold out. On the bright side, however, that was because of the huge popularity of the VHSL tournament now that it's been moved every year to Richmond, VA.

Edward Barham is an impressive athlete who's best college future may be in football as an offensive-defensive lineman: however I have not seen him play high school football. I'm just judging by his size, which might make him the wrong height for ACC basketball, although he's certainly good enough to play Division 1 basketball. He entered averaging 20.2 points and 12.2 rebounds. He has a limber body, is strong, has a large frame, strong legs, and is aggressive on the court. He also has growth potential physically, and single-handedly took on Twin Springs 6-8, 6-6, and 6-4 starting front court. Surry County High had neon bright all-blue uniforms with yellow numerals. Twin Springs had all-white uniforms with blue numerals that had a red outline. Barham should be voted the Group A state "Player Of-The-Year," although only time will tell if he will be. The games are played at the Virginia Commonwealth University Siegel Center in Richmond, Virginia. The acoustics are great! The stands and court are below entrance level, so all of the cheering sounds stay around the court: even a few thousand fans sound like 20,000 fans. For over 11 hours, The Siegel Center is full of thousands of fans who are either watching the games, or when the games aren't being played, are eating and walking around: it's a tremendous undertaking for VCU.

When I arrived at the Siegel Center, the score was tied 25-25 at the half. Edward Barham, wearing jersey number 44 for Surry County High School, had scored 8 points in the first half. At the 4:03 mark of the third quarter, Barham drew the third personal foul on Appalachian State-bound senior 6-8 Tyler Webb, who was a first-team All-State pick last year for Twin Springs High, when he hit a jump shot to give Surry County a 32-27 lead. At the end of three periods, Surry County then led 42-33. They finally won, 57-48, and hundreds of Surry County fans rushed on to the court. Edward Barham finished with 14 points. He showed a lot of power as an offensive rebounder. Surry County finished 26-4, and Twin Springs finished 24-6. I also went to see number 22 for Surry County, 6-1 190 11th-grader Mario Newby, a Division 1-AA college football prospect who plays basketball for Surry County High. Mario Newby averages 12.7 points-per-game as a shooting guard for Surry County. Mario Newby is strong, young-looking, and has some untapped athletic potential. I don't see him as a college basketball prospect. He has at least the body of a Division 1-AA college football prospect as a wide receiver/defensive back. Only time will tell how his future works out in either sport.

On the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, at the Stuart Siegel Center, on a sunny but cold March 12, 2005 Saturday, I went to see 5 state championship basketball games. The state of Virginia has boys and girls state championships, all on one final day, and in Group A (the smallest schools, usually of enrollments of under 500 students), Group AA (500-1000 students), and Group AAA (usually over 1,000 students). I didn't see the Group A girl's game, but saw the other 5 games. This was the 4th of 6 games played today.

Went to scout Percy Harvin the point guard/shooting guard basketball player. Had already seen Percy Harvin the wide receiver/defensive back/punt returner-kickoff returner football player three times. That's 6-1 190 11th-grader Percy Harvin of the Group AAA Landstown High School Eagles in Virginia Beach, Virginia: the best high school athlete ever in the state of Virginia? Maybe/maybe not. Maybe we over-hype high school athletes in the state of Virginia!

Landstown High was wearing dark blue uniforms with white numerals. Their opponent from Newport News, Virginia, nationally-ranked Woodside High, was wearing white uniforms with aquamarine numberals surrounded with black trim.

But Harvin is a great all-around high school athlete.

Does he have a jump shot? Hard to tell. But he's too quick to guard one-on-one on a basketball court. Elevates over anyone under 6-6. Great free-throw shooter. Strong. Facially, looks 30 years-old. Wears number 21 in basketball. Has a muscular chest, but smaller legs which seem to allow him to jump easily.

Has Harvin had some run-ins with school authority on his high school campus?

Harvin is considered to be the nation's top high school football prospect for the 2005-06 school year. As an 11th-grader, just recently won the large school indoor triple jump state championship in Virginia also.

Harvin has an electrifying presence on a high school basketball court, just like he does on a high school football field, despite the fact that he's not really a shooting guard or a point guard. Just a short (for a) basketball player who is a better athlete, inch-for-inch, than any basketball player he'll ever face in high school, or even college, if he wants to play college hoops!

He scored 27 points today (15 in the second half). His team started off the game down 17-3, but came back before narrowly losing Virginia's large school state championship basketball game 74-71 to the Woodside High School Wolverines. It was Woodside's second straight state championship. Harvin wasn't just scoring these against anyone. He was scoring them against William & Mary-bound Calvin Baker , a 6-1 senior who was first-team All-State as a junior last year, and blue-chip 6-3 junior combination guard Stefan Welsh , who was second-team All-State last year as a sophomore. Baker had 19 points, and Welsh had 18 points.

Woodside led 22-12 at the end of one quarter, and 42-34 at the half. But Harvin had an electrifying third quarter in which he scored 10 of his team's 19 points, and the score was 59-53 after three periods. During that third quarter, Harvin had three-point plays the old-fashioned way on two consecutive trips down the floor. The first was on a behind-the-back dribble from the right side of the basket (if you were watching from the far end of the court), where he drove, scored, was fouled, and made the free throw. Seconds later, he scored again, was fouled, and converted that free throw. Harvin was too quick to be stopped one-on-one when he was isolated with a defender.

The game was in doubt until his flying one-hand attempted dunk over 6-8 Mt. St. Mary University-bound senior Sam Atupem of Woodside High was partially deflected in the final moments. Still it was an amazing athletic performance!

I also observed another Landstown 11th-grade basketball player who has also gotten ACC football offers, 6-1 189 back-up guard (and wide receiver) Damon McDaniel. He didn't get a lot of playing time on Landstown's guard-heavy basketball squad. Wearing jersey number 12, McDaniel is muscular overall, and is not a leaper. He doesn't have the athletic speed that Harvin does (who does?), but seems to be a solid athlete.

Landstown finished 25-5. Woodside finished 29-2, it's only 2 losses to Oak Hill Academy (rated number 3 in the nation by "USA Today") and Virginia private school state champion Bishop O'Connell.

For those who remember, in 1979, the nation's top high school basketball player, Ralph Sampson of Harrisonburg, Virginia High School, held a state-wide live radio press conference to announce that he was coming to the University of Virginia to play basketball. The next school year he arrived at the University of Virginia, and went on to become the college basketball "Player-Of-The-Year" three years in a row as a seven-foot-four-inch All-American center for the Cavalier's men's basketball team, as the team was rated number one in the nation during the regular season those three seasons. The UVa men's team finished in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference during the regular season all three years.

Now, his son, Ralph Sampson III , is a six-foot, ten-inch 15 year-old freshman at Butler High School in Huntsville, Alabama, and he just led the Butler Rebels to a state championship as a ninth-grader on the varsity! Ralph Sampson III transfered during the season from a high school in Georgia to Butler High in Alabama, so he became eligible to join the Butler team after the season began. Like his NBA all-star father, Ralph Sampson III also wears jersey number 50. Although Ralph Sampson III had many double-figure points/double-figure rebound games during the season, he played his best basketball in the state tournament. In Alabama, there are six levels of varsity play, going up to the largest Class 6A level, and Butler won the Class 5A level.

In a reprint courtesy of the "Huntsville (Alabama) Times" newspaper:

Butler pulls off unlikely repeat
Team turnaround ends with 72-57 win over Shaw
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Times Sports Staff

BIRMINGHAM - As the Butler boys basketball players charged onto the floor of the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center to collect the Class 5A state championship trophy, Queen's "We Are the Champions" was piped out of the speakers as it is after every final.

But don't tell Rebels coach Jack Doss the scene is played out.

"That song doesn't get old," he told one of his assistants.

Butler went 38 years between its first and second boys championships, but a final four long shot without a senior made sure the wait wasn't as long before the third was secured.

The unranked Rebels, 6-8 at one point in the season, used a balanced attack to upset top-ranked Shaw 72-57 Saturday night for their second straight championship. After winning it all last season with five senior starters, Butler was expected to rebuild. But 6-foot-10 freshman center Ralph Sampson III. was added after Christmas, juniors with final four experience like Jeff Smith and Erwin Staten began leading the way and the Rebels went on a roll.

It ended with one of the more improbable championships ever by a team from the Huntsville area.

Soon after it was over, Buck Johnson, who played for Doss when he led Hayes to state championships in 1981 and '82, hugged his former coach and said what many have thought all season.

"Nobody gave you a chance, did they coach?" Johnson asked.

"It makes me love our seniors from last year for setting the bar and letting these players know the impossible is possible," Doss said.

It was a title made possible as much as anything by the addition of Sampson .

"I don't think we get this far without him," Smith said.

Playing up-and-down since the holidays - something that should be expected from a freshman - Sampson brought his best game to the final and finished one blocked shy of a triple-double.

He had 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks and made the all-tournament team.

"It's an overwhelming feeling of happiness and joy," Sampson said. "It's just 'Wow.'"

Smith scored 20 points and had two steals in earning tournament Most Valuable Player honors.

Also in double figures for Butler (19-10) were junior Roderick Smith with 15 and Staten with 14. Cornelius Hester scored 22 points for Shaw (31-3).

The Rebels appeared to be outmatched when Shaw scored the game's first nine points. But Butler got to within 14-9 at the end of the opening quarter and 29-25 at halftime.

The Rebels then switched from a 2-3 matchup zone to a triangle-and-two defense for the second half and began trapping the Eagles.

The move worked, and when Terrance Alexander put back a missed free throw Butler had the lead for good at 37-35 with 4:42 left in the third.

The lead never slipped below four the rest of the way.

"Every time we got a spark somehow, someway they were able to dampen our spark," Shaw coach Otis Hughley said.

Said Doss, "I thought changing defense was the difference,"

With all of the Butler players returning, the buildup will soon begin about another possible title next season. Smith said the Rebels will embrace it.

"I'm trying to get a three-peat," he said.

I went to see 6-6 230 tenth-grade forward Junius "J.C." Chaney of George Washington High School of Danville, Virginia play, as they competed against Albemarle High School of Charlottesville, Virginia, in a Tuesday night contest at 7 P.M. on February 22, 2005 at Albemarle High.

Albemarle had all-white uniforms with red numerals, and the word "Patriots" in red script in front. However, their jerseys were a little pink-looking, I thought, as if they had run while being washed. George Washington's uniforms were silver. Albemarle High has a well-lit, very loud gym, but not much of a home-court advantage: all of the stands are on both sides of the court, and there are no stands behind either basket, just basketball courts behind each basket.

The Albemarle High Patriots came in to the game with a 19-4 record. The George Washington High School Eagles entered with a 19-5 record. Both teams are Group AAA (the largest high schools in Virginia) schools. This was a Northwest Regional playoff boy's basketball game.

Although college recruiters are well-aware of powerful insider J.C. Chaney of GW-Danville, a player they may not be aware of is fellow sophomore Ridge McKeither. McKeither is listed at 6-4, and my guess is that he weighs about 215 pounds. He's a skywalker! He appears to be a Division 1 prospect for the future, even though he doesn't start yet for GW-Danville. Ridge McKeither wears number 42 and J.C. Chaney wears number 32.

GW-Danville finished second in their district, the Western Valley District, because they lost both regular season games to Franklin County of Rocky Mount, Virginia. However, in this game, GW dominated a lighter Albemarle team. GW led for most of the game, jumping out to a 13-10 lead after one quarter, and extending the margin to 28-24 at the half. The Eagles led by 13, 43-30, after three quarters. George Washington finally won the game, 62-44.

J.C. Chaney had 14 points and 13 rebounds, but his statistics didn't really tell the story. Albemarle couldn't do much with him at either end of the court. Because Chaney is just a sophomore, it's hard to think of which college player he reminds me of at a similar age. He's put on weight since I saw him play over the summer in AAU ball in Washington, D.C., but that's a good thing. The extra weight has made him all that much more difficult to stop around the hoop. If Chaney keeps growing, he looks like a future ACC-caliber player to me.

As for Ridge McKeither, he certainly has Division 1 potential, and the only reason he doesn't start for GW is because GW has such a good team, one that has older, more-experienced players in the starting lineup this season. Ridge McKeither reminds me physically of former North Carolina State All-American David Thompson appearance-wise: although not skill-wise in any way, needless to say. J.C. Chaney has long hair. He reminds me physcially somewhat of former University of Michigan All-American Terry Mills, a player who had a long NBA career (although Chaney is in no way another Terry Mills talent-wise yet, of course.)

Ridge McKeither is just an explosive player, even more explosive than J.C. Chaney. In very limited playing time, McKeither had 4 points and 4 rebounds, including a few attempted dunks that were prevented.    

I went to see Miller School of Crozet, Virginia (located in the Charlottesville, Virginia area) host Atlantic Shores Christian school (which is located in Virginia Beach, Virginia) on Friday, February 18, 2005 at 6:30 P.M. at Miller School, about 15 miles west of Charlottesville, Virginia. Like most private schools, Miller School is very, very old and gloomy-looking. It's driveway is off of a road that is three miles from the main road (Route 250 West). The Miller School gym is very old, and has a rounded ceiling of unpainted wood.

I was there to observe two tenth grade athletes. One was Atlantic Shores Christian's football quarterback Rick Kresinske , a 6-4 190 point guard who's college future lies in football of course, not basketball. The other was 6-8 240 center Bryant "Big B" Wallace of Miller School. Bryant Wallace's hometown is Richmond, Virginia. Rick Kresinske wears number 34 for Atlantic Shores Christian, and Bryant Wallace wears number 55 for Miller School.

" Bryant Wallace is a great kid with a huge upside," says Miller School head basketball coach Fred Wawner . "If he continues to work hard, there are no limits to what he will be able to do." Miller School came in to the game with a 17-5 record, and Bryant Wallace was averaging exactly 7 points-per-game coming off of the bench for a team that was loaded with shooters. Wallace resembles Duke University center Sheldon Williams (in apperance at the same age, not talent-wise, of course.) Wallace had 2 baskets and scored 4 points.

Miller School led throughout most of this game, and won, 68-52, for their 11th straight victory. They led 22-16 at the end of a low-scoring first-half, but in the second half, it was easy to see the skills of the foreign sharpshooters that have made Miller School such an outstanding basketball program. In the past 5 years, Miller has begun attracting European players in both girl's and boy's basketball, and that has resulted in Miller having perhaps the second-best private school boy's team in the state this year, behind Oak Hill Academy. Miller may be even better than Blue Ridge School, although Blue Ridge has two fine players that are headed to the University of Virginia. Miller has already beaten Blue Ridge in boy's basketball this season.

Rick Kresinske is not a future college basketball prospect, but has the tools to be a future Division 1-A quarterback prospect in football. He was 1-2 from the free throw line and scored 1 point. To describe him, he appears to be as big as his listed 6-4 190. He has blond hair. He seems co-ordinated and mature for his age. He's not thin. Like Bryant Wallace , Rick Kresinske doesn't start on his school's basketball team either: Atlantic Shores Christian is now 22-8 and has a fine team composed of an experienced starting lineup of powerful athletes.

Rick Kresinske looks like at least a Division 1-AA football prospect as a quarterback. Bryant Wallace is a sure Division 1 basketball prospect as a center or a forward. Only time will tell if Kresinske develops in to a Division 1-A football prospect and if Wallace develops in to an ACC basketball prospect.

Kevin Whaley is a 5-9 180 publicized freshman at Salem High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They're a Group AAA (largest classification) high school. He rushed for over 1,000 yards on the varsity this year as a running back, and in basketball, he's a contributor for one of the better teams in that part of the state. Entering this season, Salem High had won 82 of their previous 85 Beach District games!

Salem High School is a red, brick building located on a flat, straight road, next to another sprawling campus (Salem Middle School). I hadn't seen Kevin Whaley play either sport, so on February 8, 2004, I went to see him play as the Salem High basketball team played at home against the visiting Kempsville High School Chiefs. With seagulls swooping overhead in the dark, I arrived about 45 minutets before the 7:30 start and watched the girl's game first.

The Salem Sun Devils entered the game with a 16-4 record. Salem has a great-looking atmosphere for basketball: they close off half of their large gym with red netting so that the crowd can be closer to the main court, which is composed of brown wood, the walls are white, and the court is well-lit. There's orange, white, and red everywhere on the walls, and a large red circle in the center of the court. The walls are covered with banners of championships won by teams from previous years in various sports, as well as banners of the other schools that comprise the district. On one wall is a large painting of "Sunny," the Sun Devil, a cartoon Tazmanian devil. The Salem High uniforms are all-white, with red numerals and the word "SALEM" in red.

To describe Kevin Whaley , he's African-American. He has a young-looking appearance, but he has the outlines of a mustahce (is he done growing?), and a " Bob Marley -like" haircut. He wears number 11. He has long hair and a thick chest, yet is lean. He's very quick. He has shoulder-length hair. It's hard to tell just how much college potential he has in football or in basketball: it's just too early to tell. Although he was a huge star as a ninth-grader on the varsity football squad the team had a 1-9 season and the head coach was recently fired.

As a point guard, Whaley has very quick hands, and is a snappy passer. He sees the floor well, and hangs on to the ball well. He has a nice free throw shooting touch, and doesn't mess around at the foul line: He seems to release the ball only several seconds after the official hands it to him. Whaley seems to fit right in on one of the better basketball teams in that part of the state, despite the fact that he's by far the youngest contributor on the team. His outside shooting ability is something I don't know about yet.

Salem led throughout this game, but never really put Kempsville away until the very end. For some reason, although he started the second half and played most of the last three quarters, Kevin Whaley did not start: Salem has a 3-guard starting lineup of older players and is a guard-oriented team. Whaley didn't enter the game until the second quarter. However, he clearly has more college-potential than the other three older guards in the Salem starting lineup. Salem is headed for the Beach District championship again this season.

Salem led 17-12 after one period, 35-25 at the half, 42-34 after three periods, and finally won by a score of 60-46. Kevin Whaley was 0-3 from the floor, but one of these was a shot from half-court at the end of the third period. He was 5-6 from the free-throw line, and scored 5 points.    


I went to see 6-8 225 sophomore Julian Vaughn of Reston, Virginia South Lakes High School play on February 4, 2005 at 7:30 P.M. against the home school, Robert E. Lee High of Springfield, Virginia. South Lakes High came in to the game with a 12-7 record, but they had faced a very tough schedule. The Lee-Springfield Lancers came in to the game with a 3-15 record. Both are Group AAA (the largest classification in Virginia) schools.

South Lakes High took a 15-9 first quarter lead in this game, led 33-18 at the half, then led 48-34 at the end of three periods, and finally won 66-41. Julian Vaughn finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, and most impressively, no fouls. He had 11 points in the second half. He was 5-6 on field goals, and 5-8 on free throws. Julian Vaughn had entered the game averaging 13 points and 8.5 rebounds on a guard-dominated team.

Julian Vaughn wears number 24 and physically resembles University of North Carolina junior Sean May, only Vaughn is about 40 pounds lighter. Vaughn is very co-ordinated. He isn't 'duck-footed:' when he runs, his feet don't point outward. He has a very natural way of running and seems very relaxed on the court at all times. This is something that I believe can't be coached. He was just born with this.

South Lakes High also has Ryan Scott, who wears number 32, a 6-3 210 senior shooting guard who is headed to the College of Charleston, a Division 1 school in South Carolina. Scott showed the ability to drive well to the hoop and play defense. His father is former Georgia Tech All-American and long-time NBA player Dennis Scott. Ryan Scott is a good player. I'm sure he's always been under some pressure, being the son of Dennis Scott, but Dennis Scott was a rare player: someone who was 240 pounds and could shoot from 27 feet. That's what made him the 'College Player-Of-The-Year' at Georgia Tech.

South Lakes High also has a future major college prospect in 10th-grader Brandon Davis, listed at 6-5 185: a forward who wears number 5. Davis is a leaper who has good potential as an athlete, although I couldn't tell a lot about his basketball skills yet.

For a Group AAA school (largest high schools in Virginia) Lee-Springfield has a small gym, and it's 19 cheerleaders filled it with a lot of noise. The Lee Lancers boy's varsity basketball team had all-yellow uniforms with blue numerals and blue trim. The visiting South Lakes High School Seahawks had all-blue uniforms with green numerals and white trim. It was 'Senior Night,' and each senior Lancer player was greeted with flowers before the game by his parent(s) at mid-court. It has been a long year for Lee-Springfield's team, and their players and coach took out a lot of their frustrations on the officials during the game.

Julian Vaughn seems to be getting great coaching from long-time South Lakes head coach Wendell Byrd, who recently won his 400th career game. Vaughn always holds the ball at full length with two hands over his head upon getting a rebound. Although I got to the game before it began, I didn't have much time to observe Vaughn warm up, so I didn't see him take many pre-game shots. In the game, however, he also seemed to make use of his height and long arms well on offense. His free-throw shooting is a little unorthodox: he has good form, but at the end, he only shoots with his wrists.

From what I saw, Julian Vaughn, after blue-chip 6-9 junior Vernon Macklin of I. C. Norcom High of Portsmouth, Virginia, has as much college potential as any public high school big man in the state of Virginia. He's already ACC/Big East-caliber material. When it's permissible under NCAA rules for colleges to offer him scholarships in his junior year, schools should offer this player, and I'm sure they will.

Butch Keller, the basketball coach of 6-10 230 junior Mike Dejworek of The Steward School in Richmond, Virginia, says that "Mike Dejworek has sparked some interest by his play in the Porter Gaud Christmas Tourney in Charleston (South Carolina). Coastal Carolina (is interested in him)...Wofford is interested...Presbyterian has also shown interest...He is just on their radar screens. He is a legit 6-10 and has great feet and better than average hands."

"He runs well but not anything like (former Steward and present College Of Charleston player) Ben Brown. He is averaging almost 14 ppg, over 10 rebounds and just under 3 blocks."     1-31-05
New high schools opening in Virginia in September of 2005 are Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, VA (they'll be known as the Falcons of the Group AA Dulles District); Freedom High School in South Riding, VA (they'll be joining the Group AA Dulles District); South County High School, in Fairfax, VA (they'll be joining the Group AAA Patriot District); and Mountain View High School of Fredericksburg, VA (they'll be joining the Group AAA Commonwealth District).

The two Group AA schools, Briar Woods High and Freedom High, will be fielding independent JV football teams, not varsity football teams, in 2005-06. Then, they'll be fielding independent varsity football teams in 2006-07. Finally, they'll be fielding Dulles District varsity football teams in 2007-08.

Freedom High of South Riding, VA is not to be confused with another high school, Freedom High of Woodbridge, VA (a Group AAA school that competes in the Cardinal District).

Possibly the top high school football player in the nation for 2005-06 is Landstown High (of Virginia Beach, VA), 6-1 175 Percy Harvin , who is as of now a junior wide receiver/defensive back/kick-returner. His mother is Linda Harvin and her financee is Nicholas Mayers , the director and head coach of "The Virginia Beach Flames," which are very successful AAU boys and girls track and field teams. Linda Harvin is one of the coaches for the Virginia Beach Flames. Percy Harvin was a member of the boy's teams, and these teams have sent quite a few performers to the Landstown High football teams, as well as to other high school football teams.

Robert Morris, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and Mount St. Mary's right now have shown the most interest in 6-4 junior forward Marcus Lemon of T. C. Williams High of Alexandria, Virginia. Lemon is averaging 17.3 points-per-game so far this season. His coach is Mark Vincent .

6-11 260-pound sophomore Karan Bajwa, who was a non-basketball-playing playing student at Carlisle Academy in Martinsville, Virginia last year, after arriving at school after the school year began, is attending Durham, North Carolina's Cresset Christian Academy, where he has led them to an 11-1 record as a starter.

6-6 senior forward Corey Snell of Hidden Valley High School of Roanoke, Virginia "is being recruited by Shepherd University, Roanoke College, Randolph Macon, Eastern Mennonite University, and several other Division III schools," says his coach.

Preston Williams , a prep sportswriter for "The Washington Post," tells me that 5-5 Kendall Marshall, regarded as one of the top two eighth-grade basketball players in the nation "is now at his neighborhood school, Rippon Middle School (of Woodbridge, Virginia). By chance I saw Kendall and his dad, Dennis, at the Potomac High-Freedom High game Friday night. Mr. Marshall said the family has not yet decided where Kendall will attend high school next year." The 'Hoop Scoop's Exclusive Rankings Of the Top Players From The Adidas Junior Phenom Camp In San Diego, CA, August 6-8, 2004' had recently rated Kendall Marshall as the second-best rising eighth-grader there. Marshall had in the past years started on the varsity for his private school team, Evangel Christian of Dale City, VA, but due to the amount of time it took for him to do that, play AAU ball, and study, he had decided to stop playing high school varsity basketball at such a young age.

On a dark, 14-degree night, I drove from Charlottesville, Virginia, and went to see 6-10 junior center Mike Dejworek of The Steward School of Richmond, Virginia play at home against Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot of Powhatan, Virginia (located in the Richmond area) at 7:30 P.M. on Tuesday, January 18, 2004. Earlier in the year, Mike Dejworek was averaging in double figures. For some reason, he didn't start this game. I'm going to try to find out more from his coach. Anyway, he entered quickly after the game started, and he played great! To get straight to the point, he finished the game with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots, and the Steward Spartans won 69-62. He hit on 8-10 shots, and 1 of 3 free-throws. He did, however, commit 4 personal fouls in the first 3 periods.

He went up against University of North Carolina football-committment Kyle Jolly, the 6-7 260 tight end for Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot. Jolly wore number 40, and shot left-handed. Football is his sport of the future, not basketball. He shot an airball on one free-throw. However, he still played, played most of the game, and you can tell he's worked hard to get himself in to great shape for someone his size.

At one point, the 6-10 225 Mike Dejworek scored 7 points in about 4 minutes of the third quarter. He has a tendency to hack a lot when blocking shots, which many high school big men do, but at least he's trying to block shots, as opposed to just standing there: it's better to be aggressive than to just do nothing.

Mike Dejworek scored the first time he touched the ball. All 8 of his baskets came on layups or baby hooks, which is what you want a big man to do with the ball. His free-throw shooting needs some work, however. At this point, he doesn't project to be an ACC prospect, but he's a future Division 1 college basketball player. Physically, he looks like former University of Virginia player Jimmy Miller, who played for the Cavaliers in the 1980's.

Both Steward and Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot are members of the 12-team "Virginia Commonwealth Conference." Mike Dejworek wears number 41. I'm going to find out from his coach which colleges have shown the most interest in him so far. His team went 25-12 last season, but was just 10-10 so far this year. I noticed that his name didn't appear in the box score for their last game, due to an injury.

The Steward School's gym was very impressive. It was built in 2000 (no food allowed in this gym), and was well-lit: it had 64 bright lights. Steward had off-white uniforms: Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot had blue uniforms with a thick light-silver outline along the edges. About half of the crowd was for each school, and as often happens, the officials were blamed for everything.

The Steward School led 14-11 at the end of one quarter, 33-28 at the half, and 55-47 at the end of three periods. The 6-10 junior center Mike Dejworek of Steward posts up on offense every single time down the court, which is exactly what a big man should be doing, and this should appeal to college recruiters. His only drawback is his jumping ability. Time will tell if he has the jumping ability to play at more than the level of say, a William & Mary. Playing at this low level of private school competition, it's hard to judge him so far. Maybe if he gets invited to some summer camps, we'll know more.

    On a sunny, 41-degree afternoon on Saturday, January 15, 2005, I drove to Rocky Mount, Virginia, to see the 4-game "Member One Time Technologies 2nd-Annual Hoops Classic," a basketball extravaganza held at the beautiful, refurbished 'Samuel M. Hawkins Central Gym' at Franklin County High School. It has new, dark red seats, a dark red circle in the center of the dark yellow-brownish floor, and a dark-white ceiling full of lights and beams. Most high school gyms are poorly-lit, but this one was bright. My only complaint was that the public address system was poor: it was hard to understand much.

The first game, at 3:00 P.M., was Group AA William Fleming High School of Roanoke, VA against Group AAA Cave Spring High School from the Roanoke area. (This game had no real basketball recruiting interest to me, or to anyone, I'd suspect.)

In this somewhat meaningless (from a basketball recruiting standpoint only) first game, Cave Spring came out with their red warm-up tops and black warm-up pants. William Fleming was wearing white warm-up shirts and gold shorts. For the game, Cave Spring wore an all-white uniform with black shoes and socks, while William Fleming wore an all-neon bright gold uniform (!) with white socks and shoes.

William Fleming has a so-far little-used 6-0 freshman point guard named Brian Ashford, (wearing number 32) who's father was a star point guard for Virginia Tech in the mid-1970's. He played some but isn't ready for high school basketball just yet. Cave Spring has a junior named David Redick, the 6-4 225 brother of Duke basketball star J.J. Redick, but David Redick (who wore number 44) is likely a small-college tight-end football prospect.

David Redick's left leg was braced, but he entered the game with 4:23 in the 2nd quarter and immediately aggressively started shooting and scoring. Still, William Fleming led for the entire game, and won 42-29 in a game that at times featured a spread offense by Cave Spring.

From another football standpoint, William Fleming's powerful senior inside player, number 52, 6-4 250 Darryl Gresham, is the animalistic linebacker who changed his verbal football committment to UVa and is now likely headed to the University of Florida. However, UVa's football staff is recruiting his junior teammate, William Fleming's junior point guard/defensive back (#24 on the basketball court) Dwayne Priest, listed at 5-10 in the game program, but certainly not that tall. Priest hit a three-pointer in the first minute, and no one on Cave Spring's team could guard him around the mid-court area. His future at the college level is strictly in football, however.

The second game of the day matched Salem High School, with future ACC prospect 6-7 225 forward Kenny Belton, who wears number 30, against one of the nation's better high school teams, Mount Zion Academy of Durham, NC. Because of the fact that the perception in the state of Virginia is that the bottom has dropped out of the University of Virginia men's basketball program, this 4-game classic had nothing really to do with the University of Virginia, unless Belton winds up playing for UVa one day, which is indeed possible, because his game seems to have regressed. He hasn't developed the skills to play facing the basket, and doesn't seem capable of playing against players taller than himself. Still, to his credit, he never got frustrated by the fact that his team didn't look to get him the ball.

True, Belton is just a mere sophomore. But in this game, he literally never touched the ball against Mount Zion's two big starters, 7-0 290 junior Franklin Jones and 6-11 220 post-grad Shawn Taggert. Mount Zion led 33-24 at the half, and Belton scored his first two points when his team was down 56-28 in the third period and he was facing Mount Zion's back-up 6-8 post player.

All 10 of Belton's points, all 3 of his rebounds, and his 4-8 field goal shooting and his 2-2 on free throws were against Mount Zion's subs, and after the halftime. Mount Zion won 67-46. For whatever reason Belton played very little in the first half, when the game, Salem's biggest of the year, was still in doubt.

For Mount Zion, their human highlight film, top 10-in-the-nation senior Brandon Rush, who's 6-6 185 and wears number 15, didn't enter the game until the 5:36 mark of the 2nd quarter for disciplinary reasons it appeared, but then put on an electrifying display of basketball. He scored 20 points, had 3 different alley-oop dunks, had a behind-the-head layup, also played some point guard, hit on 8 of 10 shots, and shot 4 of 6 from the free throw line. He appears to be as good as advertised, but I have to wonder about his self-discipline. If he goes straight to the NBA, how could an NBA team justify investing millions of dollars in him?

The third game between Group AAA Patrick Henry High of Roanoke, VA and Group AA Gretna, VA High from south of the Lynchburg area had no well-known college basketball prospects. Patrick Henry won 69-54. About the only interesting thing I noticed from this game is that maybe the next football star of the future for Gretna High School was playing for the Hawks, number 24, 6-0 freshman point guard Tyon Bennett. Someone will need to take up the slack for University of Virginia football quarterback signee Vic Hall, and it appears Bennett will be the key man in upcoming years for Gretna High. Gretna High has had two straight 14-0 state championship football seasons at the Group AA level behind Vic Hall.

Finally, the last game matched Group AAA Franklin County from south of Roanoke, Virginia against the nation's number-one team, Oak Hill Academy, which is located near the Virginia-North Carolina-Tennessee triangle. Oak Hill has 10 players, and all 10 are college prospects, but most are seniors, and have already committed, and I just try to follow underclassmen, because it's more fun staying one step ahead of the game. (Franklin County High boasts 6-8 junior forward Lewis Witcher, and Oak Hill has national-top-10 junior Kevin Durant, plus a muscular junior point guard who's so good that UNC has already offered him: 5-11 Tywon Lawson.)

Even if the University of Virginia does have one free scholarship to offer, do they have any chance at Lawson, Witcher, or Durant? Not if University of Virginia head men's basketball coach Pete Gillen's staff is still here, they don't. And as for the sophomore Kenny Belton, he's either not as good as I had thought, meaning he won't be good enough to play in the ACC, or he needs to move to a private school that has another big man, so he can play on the perimeter some and get to develop his face-the-basket skills. In today's game, he wasn't able to get open against the bigger players that Mount Zion threw at him. Ever.

As usual, when Oak Hill Academy comes out to warm up, the courtside is lined with little kids who marvel and the crowd roars as Oak Hill's players put on a dunking exhibition in pre-game warm-ups. The only real weapon that Franklin County had was big-time player 6-8 junior Lewis Witcher. Witcher is the same size he was last year, about 6-8 or 6-9 and 220, but he's even better. He has a great attitude, and is coachable. He wisely looked for his shot each time he touched the ball: Franklin County needed all of the points that he could give them. He is a rarity for a big man in that he has a perfect free-throw shooting form.

Playing in the far-western part of Virginia hasn't hurt Lewis Witcher's development, because it's obvious that he must spend countless hours working on his game. Plus, being only a high school junior, once he gets to college and is able to take advantage of a leg-strength program, you can tell that he'll really be able to develop in to a big-time leaper around he basket. Witcher is a player from the western part of the state (which due to it's small population size, rarely produces a good big man) who Virginia Tech can't afford to lose to the school that is rumored to be leading for him, Wake Forest. Wake Forest is in the lead right now. Witcher faired well: it's not easy shooting over a player like 7-1 center Bamba Fall of Oak Hill, who can come out and guard someone on the perimeter.

Although these two players, 6-9 Kevin Durant and 6-0 Tywon Lawson, are both from Maryland and are juniors, for now they're playing their high school ball in Virginia, so they're fair game for anyone to recruit, so I'm considering them to be Virginia high school basketball players. Kevin Durant (who wore number 33) pretty much does it all on the court, and has a great 3-point shot. It's obvious that he's a future NBA-starter one day. Physically and facially, he looks exactly like another native of the state of Maryland, former Georgetown University All-American Reggie Williams. Kevin Durant transferred to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth-Of-Wilson, VA from National Christian Academy in Suitland, Maryland, which is in the Washington, D.C. area.

It's hard to say if Tywon Lawson (who wears number 1) will ever play in the NBA one day due to his lack of height, but he's a great high school all-around point guard. He's everywhere: running the spread offense, stealing the ball, creating havoc on defense, and leading the team. It's not hard to see why the University of North Carolina wants him, and he looks like he was born to play for UNC with his style of play. This is just a guess, but I suspect that he'll wind up playing there. It's not safe to dribble the ball anywhere near him. Tywon Lawson transferred to Oak Hill Academy from Bishop McNamara High School, which is also in the Washington, D.C. area, in Forestville, Maryland.

Oak Hill was wearing their customary all-black uniforms with red numerals and their red school name on the front, Kevin Durant had on white socks, and huge white sneakers with horizontal blue stripes on them. Franklin County was wearing all-white uniforms. Oak Hill Academy led 42-20 at the half, and won 95=51. Tywon Lawson rarely shot, but still scored 14 points: he was 3-4 on field-goal attempts, 2-2 on 3-pointers, and 2-2 on free-throws. Lewis Witcher took 7 of his 14 field goal attempts in the first quarter, when the game was still in doubt and he was trying to keep his team in it. He shot 7-14, plus 6-6 from the line, and scored 20 points. Kevin Durant was taken out of the game with 2:18 to play in the last quarter, and by that time he was 5-9 from the field, 3-6 from 3-point range, and 3-4 from the foul line, for 22 points. He only took one shot in the last quarter. The game was so one-sided that the sell-out crowd started leaving mid-way through the last quarter.

What, if anything, should be done about the state of the University of Virginia men's basketball program? Well, statistics and won-lost records can be used to show that a coach is doing as good or bad a job as you want/don't want to show he's going. How good/bad a job a coach is doing is just a subjective thing. But for the majority of University of Virginia fans, men's head basketball coach Pete Gillen apparently is doing a good job and they want him fired at the end of this season. However, in my opinion, it would be embarassing for the University of Virginia to have to buy out the huge contract that Gillen only fairly recently was given. So, now what should be done? What do you think? Here's my email address:

Bruce Croxton , the head boy's basketball coach at Benedictine High School in Richmond, Virginia, says that 6-6 senior guard Reid Augst has received the most recruiting interest from Virginia Military Institute, UNC-Ashville, Bowling Green, Jacksonville, and Siena. "He is being underrecruited, and he is a legit 6-6," says Croxton.

Benedictine's 6-9 senior Matt Kittrell is being recruited the hardest by Wagner, Stony Brook, and William and Mary.

    I went to see 6-6 freshman Ed Davis of Hanover High, located in Powhatan, Virginia (in the Richmond, Virginia area) play on Tuesday night, 1-4-05). The Hanover Hawks were playing on the road against the Varina High Blue Devils in a Group AAA (largest classification in Virginia) road game.

Varina High is in the Richmond, VA area, but not really. It's actually kind of out in the boondocks, east of Richmond, in the Williamsburg, VA direction. Will Ed Davis actually stay at Hanover High for 4 years and not be lured to one of those hard-recruiting private high schools around the state of Virginia? It's hard to imagine that he'll stay at Hanover High, but I hope he does. His father did great by staying at rural Halifax County High in South Boston, Virginia.

Last season, Hanover High, in it's first year in existence, struggled to a 1-13 district record. Usually, new high schools are awful in sports. But now, Ed Davis was on the varsity, and so far, he was averaging over 17 points and 8 rebounds-a-game, as his team was off to a 1-2 Capital District record and a 6-4 district mark.

Ed Davis is the son of 6-9 ex-Halifax County star (of South Boston, VA) and Virginia Union University small college All-American (of Richmond, Virginia) and NBA starter Terry Davis. Terry Davis was in attendance at the game. Ed Davis has a baby face, that of a 12 year-old. His face resembles ex-North Carolina All-American's J. R. Reid of Virginia Beach Kempsville High School's, minus the hair cut. However, he has the legs of a high school junior. Clearly, he is a future ACC/Big East-caliber player.

Although Ed Davis told the "Richmond Times-Dispatch" that he fancies himself to be a shot-blocker, at this point in his career, he does not appear to be one. What he does appear to be is a scoring machine. High school games are just 32 minutes-long, but it wouldn't suprise me to see Ed Davis average 30 points-per-game if he stays at Hanover High his senior year.

He can shoot the left-handed jumper facing the basket from 15 feet out with no problem. He has a smooth free-throw form. He can play with his back to the basket. He doesn't seem to be much of a rebounder. The good thing about the fact that he's not much of a rebounder nor a shot-blocker is that he seems to stay out of foul trouble because of that.

If his team gets him the ball, it doesn't seem there's any limit to the number of points he can put up. He's graceful and looks effortless on the court, although he seems to be a fierce competitor who wants to win badly.

This game was supposed to start at 7:30 P.M., but didn't start until 8:03 P.M., because the junior varsity game, won by Varina, 51-35, ran late. In the varsity game, Varina jumped out to a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter, as Ed Davis scored 6 points, hitting on 3-6 field goals.

Varina later led 35-32 at the half. Davis finished the first half with 10 points, on 3-9 shooting from the floor, and 4-4 from the foul line, plus 2 rebounds and no blocked shots. The game was hard-fought: at the 3:39 mark of the 2nd quarter, Davis grabbed a handful of an opponent's jersey and drew a foul. At the 1:40 mark of the 2nd period, Davis was intentionally fouled on a breakaway dunk.

In the third quarter, Hanover turned the game around: they unleashed a fast-breaking attack and outscored Varina 23-10, as Ed Davis went 2-5 from the floor, 2-2 from the free throw line, blocked 3 shots, and grabbed 2 rebounds. Then, in the last quarter, the Hanover coach made a mistake: for some reason, he didn't start Ed Davis or 6-4 combination guard Max Stone for the initial 1 minute and 15 seconds, and Varina used that time to narrow a 10-point deficit to a 6 point margin.

From then on, the game was up-for-grabs. Hanover's ball-handling and free-throw shooting went sour, but fortunately for them, so did Varina's free-throw shooting. Finally, Ed Davis had a nice assist to an open teammate underneath the basket for a wide-open layup and quickly followed that up with a terrific blocked shot in the last minute to insure the victory.

Ed Davis finished with 17 points, hitting 5-14 field-goal attempts, plus 0-1 3-point attemps, and was 7-9 from the free-throw line. He grabbed 7 rebounds and blocked 4 shots. In other words, for him it was an average game, although he's just a freshman.

Varina High's gym has concrete walls along the sides of the court, behind the stands, and behind each concrete wall is another lighted court. Varina had light gold/tan uniforms with white shoes. Hanover High had dark green uniforms that had a thick white stripe down the sides. They had white shoes with thick green backs. Hanover High is in it's second year in existence. Usually, new high schools lose 20 games or so in each of their first few years, but not when you have a player such as Davis.

John "Coach K" Kayajanian, the head football coach at Group AA Orange County High School in Central Virginia says that "We are sending a film to the University of Virginia as of this week," of Asa Chapman, a 6-5 defensive lineman who weighs 340 pounds, and who was first-team All- Jefferson district and 2nd-team All-Region as a junior this year as a member of the class of 2006 for the Hornets.

As someone who has followed college football in the state of Virginia for over 25 years, and who has attended both Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia as a student, I can tell you that the University of Virginia's football tradition has spanned three types. One type is what I'd call the "1-10 Type." That type consists of the 1-10 seasons that coaches such as Dick Bestwick and Sonny Randle left the University of Virginia with until George Welsh rescued the University of Virginia, probably for good, by putting together a seemingly infinite string of fine 7-5 or 8-4 seasons, and now new-coach Al Groh seems to be doing the same.

This " George Welsh/Al Groh 7-5/8-4 Type" is the next type of tradition that the University of Virginia has had. UVa has never had a Top-20 football program, no matter what the UVa's slick, young, "Make-A-Dollar-Off-Of-The-Fans-At-Every-Opportunity," high-tech sports promotions department wants us to believe, but that's true for most colleges.

The third type is one that the University of Virginia has never achieved, not even once. Virginia Tech has achieved it, but only once, in All-American Mike Vick's redshirt freshman year, when Virginia Tech made it to the national championship game and lost a close contest to Florida State. That type of year was what I'd call the "11-1 or Final Game Type" year, and Virginia Tech has only reached it once.

Although UVa has never reached this height, Al Groh has kind of teased the UVa fans with some of his comments, which has just raised the expectations of UVa fans, and not in a good way. George Welsh knew better than to do this, because it just puts more job pressure on the coach.

On the other hand, Virginia Tech's football program under Frank Beamer has developed an outlaw image due to the huge amount of arrests that it's football players have been involved in, and Beamer's refusal/inability to do a lot about the arrests. Finally, the school decided to take the matter out of his hands completely, by coming out with the "Comprehensive Action Plan to Address Student-Athlete Behavior" in 1997.

I went to see 6-4 freshman Maurice "Mo" Hubbard of Westfield High of Chantilly, Virginia play against Herndon, Virginia High in the "2004 Hubert Davis Tournament Of Champions" boys varsity basketball tournament, held at Lake Braddock high school, which is located in Burke, Virginia in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C. Maurice Hubbard is the son of NBA Washington Wizzard's assistant coach Phil Hubbard, an All-American basketball player who led Michigan to the NCAA championship game in the mid-1970's, won a gold medal in the Olympics, and then had a long NBA career.

Lake Braddock is one of the largest high schools in Virginia. The weather was freezing, about 28 degrees. Gametime was 5:45 today, on Tuesday. Players on both teams seemed intrigued with the 3-point shot attempt, no matter what skill level they had. I guess that's better than spending all your time practicing dunks though.Mo Hubbard never attempted anything other than layups, however: he could have scored twice as many points had he wanted to.

Hubert Davis is the nephew of former NBA all-star Walter Davis, and Hubert was a first-team All-state wide receiver and basketball player during his playing days at Lake Braddock, as well as a first-team All-ACC basketball player at North Carolina, and a long-time NBA player.

To make it interesting, Herndon High has one of the nation's top juniors, 6-1 combination guard Scottie Reynolds, who had moved to northern Virginia from Chicago, Ilinois prior to the ninth grade. Reynolds had made first-team All-State last year as a ninth-grader here in Virginia! Reynolds came in to this game averaging over 33 points-per-game!

Reynolds lived up to his hype and then some, pouring in 37 points, 22 of which came in the first half. He was 17-18 from the free-throw line.

Maurice Hubbard has no hype to live up to, but soon will: he had 17 points and 6 rebounds. He made 7 of 9 shots from the floor. He's a pure athlete, just like his father.

Herndon led 19-14 after one quarter, 35-27 at the half, and 45-39 after 3 periods. However, Westfield sent the game in to over time with a long three-pointer from the corner at the buzzer, knotting the score at 57-all. Finally, after Hubbard fouled out at the 2:12 mark in the extra session, Herndon won, 65-62.

Mo Hubbard wears number 32, and is a dark-skinned, African-American player. His dad was about 6-8. Scottie Reynolds wears number 3, and is a light-skinned, African-American player. Reynolds has gone in for the 2004 look: long hair, black shoes, high black socks, very long pants. Hubbard dresses more like his dad did: as if it's still the 1970's, although he does wear black shoes and socks.

If you haven't seen Scottie Reynolds play, one of his talents is pushing the ball at the defense: he forces the defense to make a play. If the defense refuses to make the play, and just backs off, then he puts up the three-pointer, which he can make from 25 feet-on-in. Mo Hubbard plays with his back to the basket at this point, but once he is also used as a face-the-basket player, he's going to develop in to an ACC-caliber player. He has the athletic tools to do so.

The game was played in Lake Braddock's Bob Carson Fieldhouse. The home team, Herndon High, wore white uniforms that had blue numerals with red trim. The visiting team, Westfield, wore black uniforms that had yellow numerals, that had white trim. The court had a medium blue, 2-foot wide rectangle around it, with the words "LAKE BRADDOCK" on each end-line. Each team's bench was composed of purple chairs. The school itself looked to be in very poor shape. Was it being rebuilt? It had at least a dozen trailers out front. The gym was the nicest building on campus. Behind one basket, the wall was lined with square banners that were white with gold print. Behind the other basket, were banners that weren't quite square: they were pointed downward, and were purple with gold print. This gym was well-lit, unlike most high school gyms.

On a 48-degree afternoon, I drove from Charlottesville, Virginia to see 6-7 junior foward Latay Darden of Green Run High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia play at home against visiting Kempsville High of Virginia Beach, Virginia at 7:30 P.M. on Tuesday, December 21, 2004. I had read in the "Virginian-Pilot" newspaper recently that the coach of last year's Green Run High team had said that Darden was the Virginia coast's best shotblocker since NBA all-star Alonzo Mourning played at Indian River High in Chesapeake, Virginia, so I wanted to see Darden play, particularly since Darden had just had 20 rebounds and 23 blocked shots in his last game!

On a side note, Kempsville High has a football/basketball player, number 10, junior point guard Terrell Whitehead, a 6-2 180 point guard/defensive back who's photo appears below, who recently was a rare pick as a first-team All-Tidewater football player, so he's going to be widely-recruited next year in football. I had never seen him play in either sport, and he's a solidly-built athlete who handles the ball well, but his future is in football, not basketball. He intercepted 8 passes this year, and starts in basketball for the Kempsville Chiefs as well.

I was not that impressed with number 11, 6-0 point guard B. J. Jenkins of Green Run, who was a first-team All-Tidewater selection as a sophomore last year. I don't consider him an ACC-caliber player in two years. However things could change.

As for Latay Darden, he's just a shot-blocking machine. He blocks EVERYTHING. To describe his appearance, he's very dark-skinned, and has very long arms and a thin chest. He has very quick reactions. Because he's very thin in the upper body, that's why he doesn't appear on any recruiting lists, but he should spend a year at a prep school after next season, so that he can get the kind of recruiting attention he may want. It's too bad that University of Virginia men's coach Pete Gillen has tied up all of his scholarships for the next two years, some with players who aren't of ACC-caliber, because Latay Darden is at least as good a prospect as former University of Virginia player Kenton Edelin, another similar-looking player who helped UVa get to a Final Foul in 1984.

Latay Darden is a great passer. He's also quick off of his feet. He's very co-ordinated, despite being left-handed. He doesn't leave his feet until the shooter leaves his feet. He intimidates as many shots as he blocks. I've decided that he's already the most entertaining high school player in the state of Virginia to watch. As the public address announcer before the game said over the PA system, "And now, for your entertainment pleasure, number 12, Latay Darden!!!"

This was a low-scoring game. Green Run led 24-14 at the half, and won 52-43. But Latay Darden had 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 blocked shots. The only reason he didn't have more blocked shots was because the other team had no inside player to feed the ball in to, so they rarely attempted an inside shot. Inch-for-inch (he's listed at 6-7, but the public address announcer said that Darden was 6-6), Darden. is the best shotblocker I've ever seen in high school basketball in Virginia, and that includes Alonzo Mourning, Moses Malone, and Ralph Sampson. If he never grows any more, he could play on the wing in college. He's a very smooth player.

On a side note, in football, Green Run has tied the state record by losing 51 straight football games. That's right: 51. This gives you an idea as to what kind of athletic talent Latay Darden has, if he can uplift an athletic department that has such a lack of talent, and is in such kaos, that he can enable it's varsity basketball team to go 18-7 last season while Green Run is in the midst of losing 51 straight games in football.

Green Run High School opened in 1982. Green Run High has it's own basketball cheering section of students that stand the entire game: they wear tie-dyed t-shirts with the names of Jenkins and Darden on them, and hoop it up after each blocked shot. Green Run is already a serious contender for the state championship, in my opionion. The basketball uniforms are white, with a thick green stripe down the sides. The court is white, with a one-and-a-half foot wide green rectangle around the edge of it. The key areas below each basket are surrounded by an area that is aqua blue. There should be a copy of the The Ten Commandments below each basket also, that simply reads, "Thou Shall Not Attempt To Shoot On Latay Darden."

The big news in high school basketball/football in Virginia yesterday was reported in the "Virginian-Pilot And Ledger Star" newspaper, where sportswriter Jami Frankenberry reported in a story that honored 6-1 190 Virginia Beach, Virginia Landstown High School 11th-grade receiver Percy Harvin as the Tidewater "Player-Of-The-Year" for the 2004-05 football season, that Harvin "earlier this week listed Florida State as his favorite, saying that the only thing that would change his mind is if coach Bobby Bowden retires...Harvin said he will commit to the Seminoles before next season."

The top two high school players in the country next year just may be 6-4 210 Chris Bell of Norfolk, Virginia Granby High and Harvin. Before this season, the "School Sports/Sporting News 2004 High School Football Preview Magazine" had listed Bell as the number 23 rising junior in the nation, and Harvin as the number 14 rising 11th-grader. But Bell has continued to grow, and may have a combination of size and speed that no high school player in America can match. He had a terrific junior year on both sides of the ball, and is more than just a tall/fast athlete playing football now. Harvin was a highlight film this year, although Bell is rated higher by colleges due to his size, speed, and power.

Harvin's decision to go to Florida State is one that may have the other ACC schools breathing a sigh of relief, as Florida State has struggled more at the quarterback position than any other ACC school over the past half-decade. Where will Chris Bell go? This will be interesting! And don't forget that the same magazine rated 6-1 200 Chantilly, Virginia Westfield High School running back Evan Roysteras the nation's 9th-best rising junior. So, for a change, the state of Virginia seems to have some blue-chip players on the way up.


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