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Please Have Patience: This Opening Page May Take As Long As Two Minutes To Appear...The V Page: Scouting High School Football And Basketball Prospects In Virginia...I See These Players Play In Person, Not On Film Or Just By Word-Of-Mouth!...If You're A Fan Of Any College Or High School In Virginia, This Totally Free Site Is For You!


Scouting 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade Boy's High School Basketball And Football Prospects!
Note: Please hit refresh on a page if all photos don't appear....The purpose of these sites is not to attempt to encourage high school athletes in the state of Virginia to attend a college in the state of Virginia: these are informal scouting websites. If you enjoy these sites, please tell us so we'll know how to improve them, by sending an America Online Instant Message to "thevpage" or emailing:

* The Page You're Viewing Now Is High School Basketball Season In Virginia In 2003-04

* High School Football Season in Virginia in 2003-04

* NEW BASKETBALL PHOTOS! Message Board About Underclass High School Football And Basketball Prospects In The State Of Virginia

* Page One Of The State's Top 2003-04 High School Football Juniors

* Page Two Of The State's Top 2003-04 High School Football Juniors

* The State's Top 2003-04 High School Football Sophomores

* The State's Top 2003-04 High School Football Freshmen

* Page One Of 2003-04 High School Underclass Basketball Prospects To Watch In Virginia

* Page Two of 2003-04 high school underclass basketball prospects to watch in Virginia

* Page Three Of 2003-04 High School Underclass Basketball Prospects To Watch In Virginia

* Page Four Of 2003-04 High School Underclass Basketball Prospects To Watch In Virginia

* Players Who May (Or May Not) Wind Up Playing For High Schools Or One-Year Post-Graduate Schools In Virginia In the 2004-05 Season

* The 2003-04 Parade High School All-America Football Team (no players from the state of Virginia on it)

* Oak Hill Academy 2003-04 photo: The nation's top high school boy's basketball program!
Please email us any info you have about underclassmen in Virginia!

  To the left, a basketball box score of 6-9 sophomore center Vernon Macklin of I.C. Norcum High School in Portsmouth, Virginia. Macklin is rated among the nation's top 4 sophomores. Will he be the future of one of the colleges in Virginia, or go straight to the NBA after he transfers to Oak Hill Academy next year for two seasons?
mail us at with your comments on any big-time football or basketball prospects in Virginia that you've seen play, and we'll discuss them with you!

"They don't meet the measurements," says St. George, Virginia Blue Ridge School head boy's basketball coach Bill Ramsey about his team's game the next day (in the 'Virginia Independent Showcase,' a tournament held before the 'Independent Schools' State Tournament' in the state of Virginia) against Coastal Christian School of Virginia Beach. "They have 20 year-olds, they recruit, they have about 15 people in the school, and they all play ball. They are just plain loaded." (Taken from the Charlottesville, VA Daily Progress. Sportswriter Andrew Joyner wrote in this same article that Coastal Christian School is not fully accredited in Virginia, so they don't play in the Independent Schools State Tournament.)
























I went to see five players play today in the state Group AAA (largest of the three classifications in the state of Virginia) Boy's Virginia High School League Championship Game, held at The Alltel Pavilion at The Siegel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. It's a decrepit part of town, with dozens of falling-down buildings and graffiti everywhere, but the Siegel Center is beautiful. All 7,500 seats were filled, and then some. What people saw was a sensational basketball game. The players I came to scout were:

6-3 sophomore point guard Eric Hayes of 29-0 and nationally-ranked Potomac High School of Dumfries, Virginia, located near Washington, D.C.
6-3 sophomore point guard Stefan Welsh of 28-3 Woodside High School of Newport News, Virginia. Has there ever been a better high school sophomore point guard in the state of Virginia than Stefan Welsh?
6-4 senior forward Terrance Flagler of Dumfries, Virginia Potomac High. (I usually don't scout seniors, but this jumping-jack skywalker is worth a look. I'll have to find out what plans he has for next year. Sure, he's a 6-4 inside player, but he did hit a three-pointer tonight.)
6-6 junior forward Willie Bell of Woodside High in Newport News, VA (He is kind of a very, very poor-man's Mike O'Koren, the former University of North Carolina All-American and NBA player who played back in the 1970's and 1980's, and is very underrated.)
6-1 junior combo guard Calvin Baker of Woodside High of Newport News, VA (How can any ACC school NOT think this guy is a prospect? I just don't get it. He's a joy to watch play.)

To get right to the point, Potomac High jumped out to a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, which was surprising, seeing as how Woodside High has cracked the 100-point barrier this season in games. Woodside seemed surprised to see a team willing to run with it, and the Woodside Wolverines seemed a little intimidated by the skywalking, shot-rejecting Terrance Flagler of Potomac High, despite the fact that he's just 6-4. In fact, Woodside trailed by 15 in the first half, and by 13 in the second half. But Woodside won it's first state basketball championship 77-73 by scoring 29 points in the final 8 minutes, as opposed to their 6-point total in the first 8 minutes of the game.

Calvin Bakercame in averaging 20.9 points-per-contest, and scored 23. Stefan Welsh entered the game averaging 18.8 points-per-game and finished with 22. The smooth, effortless-looking, poised Willie Bell came in averaging 12.4 points and scored 11, but he carried the team on the boards and on defense against Terrance Flagler before fouling out with exactly 60 seconds left. According to the 'Newport News Daily Press,' Willie Bell's father played college football and his son is a decent high school quarterback, but I think Willie Bell is a big-time basketball prospect. If there's a better high school sophomore point guard in America than Stefan Welsh, I'd hop on a plane right now to watch him play. If schools like Virginia Tech or UVa ever want to get to a Final Four, Welsh is a MUST recruit for them.

I was disappointed with the play of 6-3 sophomore point guard Eric Hayes of Potomac High. He seemed too unselfish, unwilling to look for his shot, and a step slow today. So, he was held to 6 points. It's amazing to think that Bell, Welsh, and Baker will all be back next year for Woodside. And will any other transfer wind up there? They have another nice guard on their bench, waiting for playing time, also.

The Virginia High School League and Virginia Commonwealth University have to be thrilled with the atmosphere at this game. The place was jammed, the fans were loud, the band was playing, and everything was big-time. This was big-time high school post-season basketball at it's best! Now all they need to do is hire more people to operate more concession stands and provide more parking.



Last night, a few hours ago, I went to Richmond, Virginia, to 'Alltel Pavillion at The Siegel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University' (see large crowd photo at top of this page), to see two players play. The two players were Salem, Virginia High School 6-6 220-pound freshman forward Kenny Belton, who I consider to be the top high school basketball freshman in the state of Virginia in 2003-04 and 6-1 sophomore point guard Eli Crawford of Robert E. Lee High in Staunton, Virginia.

To make a long story short, Robert E. Lee improved it's record to 29-1 by beating Salem High 52-50 in overtime. Salem High finished it's season 25-4. Kenny Belton, who's father, Kenny Belton, Sr., is an assistant coach for the Salem High boy's varsity, was a small college All-American at Roanoke College. Kenny Belton, Jr., who I will refer to as just Kenny Belton here, scored 16 of his team's 50 points. He was unstoppable, but for some reason, does not start for Salem High, which starts 4 seniors and a junior. He came in to the game averaging 8.4 points-per-game, third-best on Salem's team.

What makes Belton such a good recruiting target already, even as a freshman playing for a Group AA (middle-sized)high school in Virginia, is the body he was given to play the sport. He looks more like a college senior with a young face, than a high school freshman. At worst, he could be another Mike Owens, who was a solid 6-6 210 small power-forward for the University of Virginia in the mid-1970's. At best, he could be another 6-8 240-lbs. Sheldon Williams, the Duke forward who has to play out-of-place at center for Duke, but who will be in the NBA one day.

As for Eli Crawford, who has various other relatives who play or coach for Robert E. Lee, I was not impressed with him as a prospect in last night's game, which was the second game of a 'Virginia High School League' (see the VHSL emblem at left) boy's semi-final. I had seen him play earlier this year on the road in Charlottesville, Virginia against Monticello High, and had considered him not physically strong enough or good enough to play at the Division 1 level one day, and nothing I saw last night changed my opinion. He was just 0-1 from the floor last night, and 3-6 from the foul line, although he did really sky on one of his two rebounds, and showed good leaping ability. Still, if he only develops in to a Division II or Division III prospect, there's nothing wrong with that.

One great thing that Virginia Commonwealth University has that no other in-state college has, to my knowledge, is a video screen on each scoreboard, where fans can watch the game action on the screen while it's being played on the court...Robert E. Lee High's players mostly wore white wrist-bands, which are not in vogue any more, but their coach, Paul Hatcher, has been coaching there for over 30 years and they'll listen to whatever he says...Both schools wore warm-up pants in addition to their warm-up shirts, which is rare these days...Salem High wore all-maroon warm-ups, black shoes, and white uniforms...

Robert E. Lee High wore white shoes with a blue area on the shoelace area, blue uniforms, and their warm-ups had blue pants, and silver shirts that had blue sleeves...The crowds for Group AA weren't as large as they had been for Group AAA, and the Group AA games didn't feature nearly as many 3-point attempts as the Group AAA games did...I wonder how much 'Alltel' paid to have the coliseum renamed inside, 'Alltel Pavillion At The Siegel Center'...I noticed that 6-3 190 junior Bryan Webb was playing for Salem High, an appears to be a well-put-together, fast, leaping athlete, although he does not start in basketball for Salem. Shockingly, recruiting guru Max Emfinger, at '' rates Bryan Webb a 5-Star recruit, indicating that not only is he one of the nation's top 100 football prospects for next year, but that he mostly likely is one of the top 5 prospects in Virginia, along with two other receivers (Bosco Williams of Alleghany High and Todd Nolen of Hampton)! According to Max Emfinger, the leaders for Marcus Webb, are Tennessee, UVa, Virginia Tech, and Mississippi State, and all have offered scholarships...



TODAY IS THE BIG DAY IN HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL IN VIRGINIA!!...Yes, this is the first time that all 6 classifications, the 3 boy's and the 3 girl's groups, all played at the same location on the same day of the semi-finals. I'm going to see two terrific boy's match-ups, Potomac High (of Dumfires, VA) playing George Wythe (of Richmond, VA), followed by Woodside High (of Newport News, VA) playing C.D. Hylton High (of Woodbridge, VA). Here were the players I wanted to see play again, as I've already seen all four of these teams play at least once so far this season:

7-2 junior center Matt Hewson of Hylton High
6-3 sophomore point guard Eric Hayes of Potomac High
6-3 senior shooting guard Tyree Evans of George Wythe High
6-3 sophomore point guard Stevan Welsh of Woodside High
6-1 junior shooting guard Calvin Baker of Woodside High

In the first game between George Wythe High and Potomac High (the scores of these games mean nothing to me really, as I'm just scouting individual players), Potomac ran it's record to 29-0 by beating Wythe in overtime before a packed house of 7,000, 90-86. Tyree Evans, one of the leading scorers in Virginia High School League history (he came in to the game with 2,212 points) shot just 1-10 (1-5 from three-point range) in the first half, and was 2-2 from the foul line for just 5 points. He had 33 points after the halftime break (woah!), hitting 9-17 field goals, including 1-9 from three-point range, but he also made 14 of 17 second-half free throws, and finished the game with 38 points. Evans' George Wythe team really lost this in the first quarter, when they fell behind 22-11, as Potomac owned the offensive boards, which stopped Wythe from getting easy transition baskets, and which forced Tyree Evans to have to rely on perimeter jump shots. I see Tyree Evans as a great high school player who will make, for example, first-team All-ACC in college perhaps, but I don't see him as a future NBA player, because the average NBA player is 6-9 these days, and there's little room for 6-3 shooting guards. But there's nothing wrong with being a high school superstar, which he is. According to 'The Sports Journal,' Tyree Evans is going to attend Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia next year.

Eric Hayes has a condor-like wingspan for a point guard. He's every bit of his listed 6-3, and his coach/father Kendall Hayes appears to be at least 6-5, if not taller, so he could still grow a couple of more inches. Tyree Evans of Wythe and Hayes of Potomac only guarded each other on one possession. Eric Hayes was 7-16 from the floor, including 1-2 from three-point range, and added 4-4 from the free-throw line, for a game total of 19 points. He shoots his jump shot right-handed, but has a great left-handed layup also, using his long arms to snake past defenders on his drives to the basket. If you haven't seen him play, he's a clone of NBA point guard and former Maryland star Steve Blake. Will he make the NBA one day? I think so.

In the second game, unstoppable Woodside High School of Newport News, Virginia faced Woodbridge, VA C. D. Hylton High in the state Group AAA boy's semifinals, and Woodside easily won, 80-64, after jumping out to a 29-18 lead at the end of the first quarter. As usual, Woodside was led by the 6-2 sophomore point guard who I also feel will one day be in the NBA, Stefan Welsh, 6-1 junior shooting guard and future ACC prospect (although ACC coaches don't agree) Calvin Baker, and 6-6 junior forward and future ACC prospect (although ACC coaches don't hold him in high esteem either for some strange reason) Willie Bell. Hylton's coaching staff either hadn't seen Woodside play in person this year, or they just had a lousy game-plan, because they seemed to play directly in to Woodside's hands, trying to run up and down the court with Woodside. Instead of using their shot-blocker, junior 7-2 Matt Hewson, the Hylton High coaching staff chose to leave Hewson on the bench for all but 4 minutes of the game, which basically gave Woodside's high-scoring threesome unchallenged paths to the basket. Whatever.

Hewson shot 1-2 in his 4 minutes of play, scoring 2 points and blocking 2 shots. For Woodside, the sophomore Stefan Welsh had 20 first-half points, and 28 for the game. The junior shooting guard Calvin Baker had 17 first-half points, and 33 for the game. Stevan Welsh was 10-18 from the floor, including 4-10 from three-point land, and was 4-6 from the foul line. Calvin Baker shot 13-27 in field-goal attempts, including 6-12 from the 3-point stripe, and added 1 of 2 free throws. Willie Bell, who plays center for Woodside, but could easily play small forward at the ACC level, with his gliding, smooth, unhurried style and his ability to play both inside and outside, was 4-10 from the floor, including 0-1 from 3-point range, and 0-1 from the foul line, for 8 points, but he makes it impossible to press Woodside High, because he's capable of out-jumping most high school players he faces when Woodside breaks the press by just heaving a long pass in his direction over the half-court line. His stats don't tell his ability, although he does average over 12 points-per-game for Woodside, which is now 29-3. By comparison, Stefan Welsh averaged 18.2 coming in to the game, and Calvin Baker had a 21.7 scoring average.

Calvin Baker and Stefan Welsh are so much better than the public high school players in Virginia that they just toy with the teams they face. This is not to say that they show their opponents disrespect: they just have no competition, and won't until they get to the next level. It was funny, however, to see Woodside's pre-game introductions, where, as each player ran out as his name was called, a Woodside player was standing there and frisked each player, as the player stood with arms stretched out, pretending to search for weapons. Okay......

The games were played at 'Alltel Pavillion At The Siegel Center,' on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, the state capitol of Virginia. Richmond is in the center of Virginia. Seats on each side of the arena were painted bright yellow, so as to configure the word "RAMS" on opposing sides of the court. (Virginia Commonwealth University sports teams are known as the Rams.) As with most arenas these days, the building is loaded with signs, such as ones on the two scoreboards for companies such as Pepsi, the Virginia Lottery, the VCU Health System, and Papa John's pizza. From the white ceiling over the center of the court, Virginia Commonwealth University has banners commemorating the jerseys of the two players who have had their numbers retired, plus the American flag hangs beside the state of Virginia flag.

In the first game, George Wythe High had the letters "GW" together in the middle of their red warm-up shirts, which had blue thick stripes down the sides, and white short sleeves. They also wore white shoes, white uniforms, and black socks. They had a jumping-up-and-down ceremony in the corner of the court before the game, but it didn't lead to an eventual victory. Potomac High, their opponent, wore black shoes and socks, blue uniforms, and had two horizontal white stripes across the front and back of the bottom of their blue warm-up tops. For this game, Tyree Evans didn't have a band below his right knee, but he had a black elbow pad on his right elbow. In the second game, to describe the Hylton Bulldog's appearance, they wore white uniforms that had the word "HYLTON" over their numbers, and the word "BULLDOGS" below their numbers. Woodside wore these strange-looking uniforms that had dark blue numerals on top of green jerseys, making it basically impossible to read any players' uniform numeral.



Today, I'm going to see the state Group AAA Boy's High School Basketball State Tournament Quarterfinal game at James Robinson High School (see photo at right) in Fairfax, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., featuring Hylton High School of Woodbridge against Hayfield High School of Alexandria. More later. Hayfield High features 6-7, or 6-8, depending on what source you read, junior forward Mike Freeman, who transferred there from nearby Montrose Christian School in Maryland. Hylton High features no highly-recruited underclassmen, but it does have 7-2 220 junior center Matt Hewson, who, although he's just the sixth man for Hylton High, has helped the school get this far with his shot-blocking. No matter unskilled a big man is, and Matt Hewson is not highly-skilled and is weak physically, there's always a Division 1 coach who'll see the player as a "glass is half-full" prospect and offer him a scholarship if he's tall enough, and Hewson is a legitimate 7-2 and growing.

I just got back from the game, and Hayfield High lost to Hylton High, 55-50. I was wrong about Matt Hewson, who, although still weak in the shoulders and chest, was the difference in this game. He's improved his hands as far as catching the ball, although his passing needs work. He showed a soft shot, even hitting a jumper from 18 feet out! He played 10 minutes and 14 seconds tonight, by my accounts, and had 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. This might not sound like a lot, but consider that the ACC prospect for Hayfield High, 6-8 Mike Freeman, had just 3 field goals, and Matt Hewson hit four! Matt Hewson was 4-7 from the floor, but did seem to exasperate his coach by getting four fouls, which is why he only played 10 minutes. But he seemed to intimidate the entire Hayfield High team when he was in there, by blocking and intimidating every shot around the key area. Basically, Hewson and senior point guard Deon Butler, a fearless 5-10 roadrunner who's headed to Penn State on a football scholarship, broke the hearts, souls, and state championship hopes of Hayfield's psyched-up fans with their play. It was obvious that Hayfield was in trouble when they scored only 20 points in the first half, as they trailed 27-20 at the break. Mike Freeman of Hayfield, who is listed at 6-8 but seemed at least an inch shorter than his Division 1 prospect and senior teammate Alex Woodhouse, who's also listed at 6-8 but may be 6-9, was just 3-7 from the floor, and 7-10 from the free throw line, for just 13 points, although he did grab 11 rebounds. He (Mike Freeman)is surely an ACC-caliber prospect for next year, however, and this junior looks like a college player right now.

As for senior 6-8 forward Alex Woodhouse of Hayfield High, he has what recruiters would call a "live body." He can jump, run, plays with emotion, and has skills. However, he needs to bulk up and play with more intelligence. He reminds me in appearance somewhat of a player who had a disappointing career at the University of Virginia, Bill Batts of Cleveland, Ohio.

Now that he's helped Hylton High to the state semi-finals, Matt Hewson's stock has to have soared with college recruiters, and the only reason he doesn't start for Hylton High this year, and is their 6th man instead, is because all 5 starters are seniors. He could explode next year and really develop in to a highly sought-after prospect. But, he must work on his jumping ability, as he only gets a few inches off of the ground on his soft, accurate jump shot. He can certainly help the Division 1 teams in Virginia in 2 years, if not the Virginia ACC teams, UVa and Virginia Tech.

Hayfield High came in to the game 25-2, and C. D. Hylton High came in with a 16-6 record. The basketball gym at Robinson High is possibly the biggest high school gym in the state of Virginia, and is very impressive, but old. It has extensive bleachers on all four sides of the court, two scoreboards that are in the corners in the court on the walls, and each scoreboard has a small message screen. The free-throw lanes are blue, and the free throw circle half is yellow. The center of the court is a blue circle with a yellow circle inside of it, and on the front of the scorer's table, it reads "Robinson - Home Of The Rams." Behind each basket, high on the wall, it says, "ROBINSON," and there are doors at each of the four corners of the court, meaning that the bleachers behind each basket are actually about 20 feet farther from the court than the other high school gyms in Virginia that have bleachers behind the baskets have theirs. The only other drawback to this gym is that it's the darkest gym I've ever been in in Virginia. For some reason, the ceiling was not designed to have enough lights.

On a footnote, I noticed that one of the assistant basketball coaches for West Springfield High School, which beat George Washington High School of Danville 60-42 in the girl's state quarter-final game before this, was former University of Virginia point guard Billy Langloh, a great guy who I hadn't seen in 25 years. He looked the same, with blonde/grey/white hair instead of his yellow hair from his college days, a few extra pounds, glasses, and was wearing a grey short-sleeved shirt and tan pants. All basketball fans in Virginia should keep the name of Billy Langloh in mind, because he helped the University of Virginia win the only Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball championship that it's EVER won in it's 50 years in the ACC, a fact that is both true and depressing.

In this game, played in Harry M. Smith Fieldhouse at James Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia, Hayfield High was designated as the home team, and brought thousands of loud fans with them. Mike Freeman wore orange sneakers with orange laces, soles, and a stripe up the back, and his team wore black warm-up t-shirts that read "2004 Patriot District Champs" on them. Mike Freeman has a soft left-handed jump shot out to three point range, and can post up also, but needs work on his ability to put the ball on the floor, anywhere on the floor. He wore a white uniform with an orange stripe up the side, and an upside-down, wide, orange "V" across the bottom of the side of his basketball shorts. (Just trying, for the benefit of people who weren't at the game, to describe everything I can.) Matt Hewson wore white socks, a blue uniform that had a thick white stripe down the side, with a gold stripe inside of the thick white stripe, and a white, elbow-length, warm-up shirt. If you go to the state semi-finals on Wednesday, March 10, please email me at, and tell me what you think of Matt Hewson as a player. Is he a future ACC star? A future low-major Division 1 bench-warmer? Am I the only one who sees potential in a player who doesn't start as a junior for his high school team?



I think the hardest thing to find in basketball is a player who can penetrate to the basket, break down the defense, and either feed the ball to an open teammate or score himself on a driving shot. That's one reason I went again to scout 6-1 160 junior point guard Tyrese Rice , who wears number 5 for Chesterfield, VA Lloyd C. Bird High School. While I was there, I also got to see a player I had heard about but had never seen play before, 6-3 190 shooting guard Tyree Evans, who also wears number 5, of Richmond, VA George Wythe High School.

The game was played at the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. It was a warm Monday night, and about 95% of the 5,000 seats were full. It was the Central Region final in Group AAA, the largest classification in Virginia. The top two teams from each of the four regions in Virginia go on to play in this week's state tournament, so both schools were going to advance, no matter who won.

Tyree Evans appears to be the top public high school senior in the state of Virginia. Tyrese Rice appears to be the top public high school junior in the state of Virginia. They each recently made the first-team All-Central Region basketball team, with Tyree Evans being picked as the region's Player-Of-The-Year. Evans came in to the game averaging 29.6 points-per-game, and Tyrese Rice would be averaging 22.3 points and 7.2 assists for a 25-4 team after tonight's game, accorind to the "Richmond Times-Dispatch." Evans is the state's leading scorer, regardless of classification. He's considered one of the top 75 seniors in America, but I've heard that because of some off-the-court problems, may have to go to either prep school or a junior college next season. If anyone knows more about this, please email me.

Both are as good as advertised. But still, having seen a majority of the top high school public and private players play this season, I'd have to say that junior point guard Tyrese Rice, although small, is probably the best high school player in the state of Virginia, and that includes all three of the high school All-Americans who play for Oak Hill Academy, the nation's top-ranked high school team! Oak Hill recently finished their season 38-0, and has a senior named Josh Smith, 6-8 230, who will likely turn pro instead of going to the University of Indiana, and will likely be a first-round NBA pick. Oak Hill also has 6-9 230 All-American Brian Johnson, who has said he's going to test the NBA draft waters but will go to the University of Louisville, and 6-2 point guard Rajon Rando, who is going to the University of Kentucky, and who had 31 and then 27 assists in back-to-back games this year.

Tyrese Rice just takes the ball by anyone who is guarding him. Or, if you lay off of him, he can hit the three-pointer. His team, Lloyd Bird High, lost tonight's game 76-75 on a tap-in at the buzzer, but he scored 30 points, hitting on 6 out of 11 two-pointers, 6-8 free-throws, and 4-11 three-point-attempts. He had several great passes, as did Tyree Evansbut what seperates the two players (who never once faced each other in a 1-on-1 situation in the game) is that Tyrese Riceis a true point guard in every sense of the word, and a magical dribbler who can create and shoot. Tyree Evans scored 23 points, but at the end of the game, he was repeatedly surrounded by 2 or 3 defenders, making the area around the basket open for a teammate to tip in the winning shot due to the attention the defense had to give Evans. Evans was 6 out of 15 from the floor, 2-4 from the free-throw stripe, and was 3-10 from three-point range.

In addition to Evans, there have been other highly-publicized players to come out of the Richmond area in recent years who had NBA potential, but didn't make it to the NBA. Will Evans make it? Only time will tell. Tyrese Rice may be too slender to make it: I don't know. But he sure reminds me of NBA player Kenny Anderson , a player of similar size, in many ways. No matter though. I'd still take Tyrese Rice over any high school player in Virginia, public or private, of any age, if I had to pick one player for a college team. With his dark blue headband, he resembles a similar player who's a high school senior, All-American Sebastian Tellfair of Brooklyn, New York's Lincoln High School, and I can't believe there's a lot of difference between the two.

The Siegel Center (see ticket stub at right) is a beautiful-but-small, brand-new arena in the middle of Virginia Commonwealth University. It only has one concession area inside the main court area, and that has a long sign over it that says "VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY." The building is kind of square shaped, with rounded corners, and has a scoreboard at each end. Each scoreboard had a video screen in the middle, which wasn't turned on for some reason. The out-of-bounds area around the basketball court is painted in black, with the name of the school set against it. There are two long rows of lights over each side of the court, and none directly over the court. George Wythe High School wears dark black sneakers and socks, and orange uniforms that have white numerals. Lloyd Bird High School wears white uniforms that have blue letters. Tyree Evans, who led George Wythe to the state championship game last year, where they lost, averaged 20.6 points-per-game as a junior. He wears a band underneath his right knee, which has a black stripe surrounded by two white stripes. His shooting range is unlimited, although his foul shooting stance is kind of sideways, which is not a good form. He runs a little stiff-legged: I wasn't sure why at the time, but later read in the "Richmond Times-Dispatch" that he had spent that morning on crutches! But he can put the ball on the floor. He wants the ball in the clutch: 9 of his 25 shots were taken in the last 8-minute quarter.



I went to scout a player I had heard a lot about, 6-7 190 junior (he appears to play every position but point guard)David Jefferson of Norfolk, VA Lake Taylor High School. He was rated by the ""as the nation's number 165 player in the Class Of 2005, but is sure to move way up. Jefferson 's Lake Taylor Titans were blitzed by the Woodside High School Wolverines from Newport News, VA by a score of 102-75. The game was the second of a double-header in the Eastern Region Boy's High School Basketball Tournament, held at Churchland High School in Portsmouth, Virginia.

David Jefferson is as good as advertised, and is a sure ACC-caliber prospect. He has a beautiful jump shot, something that is rare to see these days, when every player who can hit the backboard considers himself to be a three-point shooter. He can sprint up and down the court, block shots, and put the ball on the floor. His only weakness is that his chest, not his arms, is thin, but that can be corrected with a few years of weight-lifting.

David Jefferson wears number 33 for Lake Taylor. He scored 22 points, but his team was run off of the court from the outset, falling behind 33-14 after the first 8-minute quarter. Finally, toward the end of the game, exasperated with a no-call, he didn't bother to run back on defense, and instead shouted at the nearby official. No matter. He's a fine prospect, and has the kind of young body that suggests that he's not done growing yet.

For Woodside High School, 6-2 185 sophomore point guard Stefan Welsh is, in the words of the sportswriter Kyle Tucker of "The Virginian-Pilot," 'unbelievable.' At least in this game, Welsh
was. Welsh scored 40 points, 22 in the first half, and showed why he will be a high school All-American by his senior year. Welsh wears number 14 for Woodside, and will in all likelihood be the last number 14 to wear it once this sophomore finishes his terrific career and the school retires it. He had 6 three-pointers, drove by his defender(s) at will, and could have scored 50 had his coach played him more.

The other guard for Woodside High, 6-1 junior Calvin Baker , scored 27 points despite foul trouble, and is a great high school player in his own right. According to sportswriter Michael C. Wright of the Newport News 'Daily Press,' both Calvin Baker and Stefan Welsh even lived together for awhile while Baker's mother shopped for a house in the Woodside High School district when he transferred there from Phoebus High of Hampton, VA.

For whatever reason, Calvin Baker is not being heavily recruited, possibly because his three-point shot is mostly a set shot, but Baker can certainly play at the ACC level. He has an extremely soft shot, is never in a hurry, and the twosome of Baker and Welsh are the best public-school backcourt I've seen in Virginia since NBA All-Star Allen Iverson and eventual Wake Forest University starting guard Tony Rutland were both starring at Bethel High in Hampton, Virginia.

It appears that 6-6 junior forward Willie Bell , who scored 17 points for Woodside High, is also a Division 1 prospect. He can jump and run also, although I don't consider him a big-time player, just a Division 1-caliber player. David Jefferson was wearing white shoes with a red sold and stripe up the back, a white uniform with a thick red stripe up the side, a red warm-up jacket, and his jersey said "LAKE TAYLOR," across the front. His team is all African-American, as are all of the Lake Taylor High School cheerleaders. Churchland High is a big school with a large gym that's big enough to be a college gym. Every seat in the gym appeared to be taken during the second game, so I'd say about 4,000 people were there. It says "CHURCHLAND TRUCKERS" on the baseline at the ends of the court, the gym is comprised of orange benches, it has 3 practice baskets on each side of the court, and dozens of square and rectangular banners that hang in rows from the ceilings. These aren't athletic banners, but appear to be for decoration. The ceiling of the gym is intricate-looking, with an endless amount of metal holding up the roof. It's a great-looking gym, and a perfect place to hold a regional tournament. Now if Churchland High would only spare a dime to buy soap for the men's room.

In the first game of the night, Granby High of Norfolk, VA played rival Maury High of Norfolk. As I go to these games basically to scout underclassmen, a player who immediately caught my eye was 6-6 junior forward Terrance Woodbury of Granby High. Woodbury, wearing number 32 in above-left photo, is a great athlete. His team played a poor game and lost 69-49. He only scored 7 points, but you can see that the talent is there. He came in to the game averaging 16 points-per-game. He appears to be a "tall" 6-6, and weighs about 210. He can make a snappy pass when necessary, can put the ball on the floor while closely guarded, and looks like a future Division 1 player to me. ACC-caliber? Too soon to tell. He has thick calf muscles, which are a sign of a frontcourt player who has promise.

Maury High School had no underclassmen who impressed me. Their star is 6-5 (looks about 6-6) string bean Bryant Wiggins , who appears to be a Division 1 prospect. He's a real slam-dunker, but thin 6-6 players don't get to dunk in major college basketball. As former Marquette head basketball coach Al McGuire once said, high school coaches who play 6-5 guys inside around the basket are hurting the player's chance for a Division 1 scholarship, but I realize that if the 6-5 guy is the tallest quality player on a team, the high school coach owes it to his school to try to win. Physically, Bryant Wiggins looks exactly like North Carolina State All-American Julius Hodge, but he's strictly an inside player. However, with his great leaping ability, he has the potential to improve in college. According to sports writer Larry Rumbamba in the "Virginian-Pilot" newspaper, Bryant Wiggins has received recruiting interest mostly from Virginia Tech, George Mason, Old Dominion, and Delaware. He has a cousin who is one of the nation's best female collegiate point guards, who plays women's basketball for West Virginia. He averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds as a junior on a 25-4 state semi-finalist, but had some academic troubles as a freshman at Maury, so he spent his sophomore season at Coastal Christian School of Virginia Beach. Bryant Wigginswas unstoppable, and even Woodbury couldn't stop him from dunking. I also was able to observe Granby High's star junior football quarterback Bobby Rome , who I've already seen play football, play some basketball. He's powerful and although listed at 6-1, looks about 5-11 215. He was wearing dark blue socks. He didn't play a lot, but he's not a basketball player anyway, just a football player, and reportedly a very good one.

Granby High wore white uniforms with thick blue stipes on the sides, blue numerals on their jerseys, white shoes with black laces, and Woodbury wore white socks. Maury High wore orange uniforms with black stripes down the sides, yellow/white numerals on their jersye, and white warm-up tops. The crowd around me went bonkers each time Bryant Wiggins of Maury slammed one, and eventually drew a technical foul for celebrating on the out-of-bounds area after one 4th-quarter dunk. After these wins, Maury High is now 23-3 and Woodside High is now 25-3.


More on these two basketball games tomorrow, but for now: at the Eastern Region playoff games between Granby and Maury High (both of Norfolk, Virginia) and Woodside High (Newport News) vs. Lake Taylor High (Norfolk), I learned that both the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech are interested in Maury High School's junior wide receiver Demetrius Buie , a 6-4 180 leaper with long arms and legs. Watching him play basketball tonight, I can see the collegiate football potential he may have.

As a former student at both the University of Virginia and at Virginia Tech, I feel I'm qualified to give an objective, random thought about Virginia Tech's football program: the Tech players seem to have little respect for Tech head football coachFrank Beamer . Why else would they keep getting in to trouble? Don't they realize they could endanger his job?

Another Division 1-A football prospect in the state of Virginia who's also a high school junior, 6-0 quarterback Bobby Rome of Norfolk, VA Granby High, seemed to have an extremely powerful physique for a quarterback when I observed him playing in the basketball game tonight. I can see where he gets the strength to really heave it. I could easily see him playing other positions, such as running back, if a Division 1-A school signs him and eventually moves him to another position.

Now that I've criticized Virginia Tech, let me be fair and critique UVa a little, too. I can't imagine why UVa would bring back head men's basketball coach Pete Gillen for next year. None of UVa's three incoming men's basketball recruits that are presently high schoolers are considered a blue-chip player (a top-50 recruit), so where is the influx of talent going to come from that's going to bring UVa from having the ACC's 8th-best program to having one of the top 4?



A Richmond-area high school basketball player and Division 1 basketball prospect tells me that one of his best friends, 6-1 junior point guard Tyrese Rice of Chesterfield, Virginia Lloyd C. Bird High School, who scored 38 points this week against the state's most highly-publicized public school senior, 6-3 shooting guard Tyree Evans of Richmond, VA George Wythe High, took an unofficial visit to Virginia Tech this weekend. Virginia Tech has offered Tyrese Rice a scholarship, his friend says. Having seen Rice play, I can tell you that although the public high school basketball in Virginia has fallen drastically in the past 20 years since players have started going to private high schools instead, Rice is a terrific player. He's for real!



Arriving when there was just 1:23 left before game time, I went to see 4 players play on a warm February 20 night at nice-looking, fairly-new, Heritage High School in Newport News, VA, in the Peninsula District Tournament Championship game. This is one of the nicer gyms in that part of the state. Heritage High School was playing Woodside High School. Woodside High had already won the regular season championship.

Atavius Langford 5-10 FR Newport News, VA Woodside
Llew Radford 6-4 220 JR Newport News, VA Heritage
Stephan Welsh 6-3 SO PG Newport News, VA Woodside
Calvin Baker 6-1 JR G Newport News, VA Woodside

Langford was rated #115 nationally in his class by Radford was rated #158 nationally in his class by Welsh was rated #125 nationally in his class by Calvin Baker , who transferred to Woodside High from district-rival Phoebus High, was rated one of the top 5 players at the "Bob Gibbons Southern Invitational Under 15" competition last year, held at the University of Virginia, which featured AAU teams from as far away as California.

After waiting on a long line for my ticket, and waiting on a longer line to get in, then getting scanned by the policeman, I entered. The game was held at Newport News, VA Heritage High, so Heritage was actually wearing the visiting team's uniform in the Peninsula District Tournament Championship game. Woodside came in rated #2 in the state of Virginia in the large-school classification, with a 22-2 record, but they lost tonight, 75-69. The lobby was so packed that it was hard to move during the halftime. Woodside seemed rattled and stunned as, behind a roaring home crowd, underdog Heritage beat them at their own fast-breaking style and raced to a 21-10 first-quarter lead. The game was tied 35-35 at the half, and 50-50 at the end of three.

Langford was dressed but did not play. Wearing number 14, Stefan Welsh was HORRIBLE. After scoring 23 points in the tournament semi-finals, he could do nothing right tonight. Still, you can't deny that he has all the physical tools to be a Division 1 guard one day. But it was surprising that Heritage used it's quickness to full-court press Woodside and force them in to turnovers while out-fast breaking them, two things that Woodside had used to have such a great season. Heritage was simply too quick and fast for Woodside, despite the high-profiles of Welsh and Baker .

6-1 Calvin Baker was terrific, scoring 25 points. He's very much like Herndon High School sophomore 6-0 guard Scotty Reynolds. But is Baker big enough to play the shooting guard position in the ACC? Only time will tell. But he can play Division 1 ball, for sure. He's surely going to be a better prospect that the University of Virginia's Todd Billett.

Powerful Llewchean "Llew" Radford, 6-4 220 and wearing number 34, looks like a future ACC small forward to me. He scored 22 points in this game, showed a nice 3-point jump shot, and is physically powerful and mature. He did it all, including one nice play where he quickly dribbled behind his back and slashed to the basket for a down-the-middle-of-the-lane layup. Why doesn't this guy play football also for Heritage?

The gym was packed. It's a big gym, and has 4 extra baskets on each side of the court, as opposed to the 2 extra baskets that most high schools have. The walls behind the baskets are white, and probably 40 yards wide, with thousands of 8-inch high, narrow slots to use to hang things on the wall with. Heritage has maroon as it's school color. Woodside has white uniforms with green numerals and a thick blue stripe down the side of their uniforms. I also got to see a college football prospect for next year play for Heritage, wearing number 12, 6-4 220 junior wide receiver Kevin Emery .

The crowd was noisy and celebrated when the game was over. Stefan Welsh has his hands full, having the ball stolen from him twice in a row at one point, and throwing up countless errant long-range shots. He scored just 8 points, all in the second half. One problem is his jump shot, which does not square with the basket. His foul shooting was also poor. But he's a snappy passer, and seems to be a true point guard. This game was played at a race-horse speed for the entire 32 minutes, but one reason the score wasn't higher was because Welsh shot more than anyone else in the game, yet was throwing up bricks.

Welsh is a dark-skinned player whose game reminds me (this is at the high school sophomore level only) of former North Carolina star Kenny Smith. He can do it all, but he did it all poorly tonight. Still, he has the perfect set of tools for a Division 1 point guard. He appeared to be a good 2 inches taller than the 6-2 player who was guarding him.

Llewchean Radford showed he can also do it all. He has some moves, but needs work on his ball-handling. Radford has a nice-looking shot, actually. Hard to believe this guy is just in the 11th grade. He's built like an NFL player, but is a true basketball player.

Calvin Baker , wearing number 3, is a light-skinned player with thick calf muscles that give him good hops, and he's very smooth. He's aggressive with the ball. But is he a tweener? He may be done growing, also, which young-looking Radford doesn't appear to be. Baker's only weakness is that his 25-foot jumpshot is strictly a push shot, and not a jump shot.

As for Atavius Langford, he wears number 5, and just had to sit there on the bench all game long, for some reason. The reason was cleared up by a sportswriter for the "Hampton Roads Daily Press," who told me that, "He's not a starter. Besides, when you have guards like Calvin Baker and Stefan Welsh, I don't see much room for playing time for another guard."

6-6 junior forward Willie Bell of Woodside had a nice game and played under control, scoring 16 points, and is at least a Division II prospect. Then again, with over 320 Division 1 schools out there, isn't anyone 6-6 who averages over 10 points-per-game a Division 1 prospect?



On a warm Friday night, I went to see 6-9 junior basketball center Andre Morris , see photo at right, courtesy of photographer Clement Britt of "The Richmond Times-Dispatch,"   of Huguenot High School in Richmond, Virginia play in a 7:30 P.M. against district rival Monacan High.Andre Morris does not start for Huguenot High, which is a Group AAA (largest schools in Virginia) high school and came in to the game with a 15-4 record. I had been told by an in-state high school player who's being recruited by Division 1 schools that Morris is weak physically, a good athlete, but is not a very good player.

Andre Morris didn't start, but got in to the game at the 4:42 mark of the first quarter, with his team ahead 7-5. (High school games are composed of four 8-minute quarters.) Within 16 seconds, he blocked a shot. 19 seconds later, he blocked another shot, and grabbed the rebound. He had averaged 8 points and 11 rebounds-per-game as a sophomore. At the 3:28 mark of the first quarter, he scored on a leaning bank-shot. He went on to score 11 points in the game, shooting 5-8 from the floor, and 1-2 from the free-throw line. He had 4 rebounds, and blocked 7 shots, plus had two of what I'd call "intimidations." He did have 4 fouls. His team led 19-11 at the end of the first quarter, 39-32 at the half, 67-44 at the end of three, and won 80-66.

Is Andre Morris a good player? I guess that's a subjective thing. But with 326 Division 1 men's basketball programs out there, there's certainly a future roster spot for this still-growing junior.

On one sequence, he blocked 2 shots in 4 seconds, pinning the second shot against the backboard. Another time, he one-hand cradled a rebound, and then banked in the follow-up. Andre Morris has long, long arms. He vaguely resembles former Maryland All-American Joe Smith , in physical appearance, but not in talent.

The game was played at Monacan High School on Smoketree Drive in Richmond. Monacan must have the smallest Group AAA gym in the state. The four practice backboards in the gym are wooden. Both "key" areas (the lane areas) under the baskets are orange, and the Monacan Chiefs' school colors are white and red. Their jerseys were all white with orange numbers, an orange stripe down the sides of their jerseys and shorts, and an orange belt-appearance stripe across the back of their shorts. They wore white socks and white shoes that had orange on the back half of the shoe, with just the heel white. Their cheerleaders, of course, had orange skirts. The visiting Huguenot Falcons had dark green uniforms with a double yellow stripe down the sides of both the jerseys and shorts. They wore white socks and sneakers. Their cheerleaders wore green skirts. 10 of the 11 Monacan High cheerleaders were Caucasian. All 11 of the Huguenot High cheerleaders were African-American. The gymnasium had orange-painted beams on the ceiling, and the giant words "HOME OF THE CHIEFS" behind one backboard, to the left. On the walls behind the bleachers were written "Monacan Students" (seating section), "Adults," "Visiting Adults," and "Visiting Students." The basketball court was a kind of yellow/light-green color. (I'm just trying to give you a description of what I saw.)Andre Morris, who wears number 45, wore a green headband.

Morris didn't start the second half (I have no idea why he doesn't start.)and got in at the 6:16 mark of the third quarter. 48 seconds later, he blocked another shot. His team plays a fast-break style of play, and although they're not going to win their district, and will come in second this year, I'd say that they are the best public-high school team in Virginia I've seen this year. Hugeunot is known solely as a football powerhouse, but it appears now that they have a good basketball team as well. I'm interested to find out ifAndre Morris is any relation to Isiah Morris , another Richmonder of the same height who went to George Wythe High in the 1980's, then was a junior college All-American, a good player at the University of Arkansas, and played several seasons in the NBA.

Defensively, Andre Morris is a better player than highly-touted (overrated?)6-9 Portsmouth Norcom High sophomore Vernon Macklin , although he lacks strength: although he was fouled, Morris , had a flying dunk attempt of his blocked by a Monacan player.



For the second straight year, the "Parade High School All-America Football Team" doesn't have a single player from the state of Virginia on it. Perhaps this explains why UVa and Virginia Tech have mediocre records in most years: if the state of Virginia doesn't produce blue-chippers, in the words of Charles Barkley , you "can't raise up what isn't there." The team is composed of 58 players from 28 states this year. Oh well: maybe next year...Here's a scanned copy of the "Parade High School All-American Football Team."



Max Emfinger of Texas now has the University of Virginia's 2004 football signing class rated number 29 in the nation! This is somewhat curious, seeing how he had UVa rated number 56 nationally just yesterday. I noticed that he had UVa with more recruits than in past days also. So, obviously, either schools ahead of UVa cooled off in the last days of their recruiting, or he hadn't updated UVa's recruiting a lot. Anyway, he now has Virginia Tech's recruiting class rated number 35. Still, although UVa is rated number 29, the Cavalier's recruits are only rated fifth-best in the ACC, and a fifth-best finish on the field for UVa football wouldn't satisfy a single UVa fan. So, we'll see...

More in this exact paragraph when it's updated later, but tonight I went to see St. Anne's-Belfield School of Charlottesville, Virginia travel to play Charlottesville, Virginia High School. My reason for going was to see St. Anne's-Belfield junior shooting guard Jose Garcia, a 6-5 basketball star who was born in Africa and later lived in Belgium, and who transferred to St. Anne's-Belfield from Holy Cross High of Lynchburg, Virginia. Jose Garcia is a rare athlete. I'd say that the only athletes that the University of Virginia or Virginia Tech have had at his position that are better are NBA players Bryant Stith and Dell Curry. . At worst, Jose Garcia is another Jason Williford , a small forward who, I believe, helped the University of Virginia make the Final Eight under coach Jeff Jones . At best, Jose Garcia may be a future NBA player! The Tallahassee Democrat quotes Jose Garcia as saying "I want to find someplace where I can fit well for four years, have a great time and then play professional basketball, hopefully." Sportswriter Jack Corcoran writes that "Jose Garcia would help in 2005-06. The coveted junior shooting guard from St. Anne's-Belfield in Charlottesville was at University Hall on Sunday (recently) to check out the Seminoles. Garcia , whose long list of suitors includes North Carolina, N.C. State, Connecticut, Virginia and Virginia Tech, said he likes FSU." However, the "" only rates him number 108 among players who will be high school seniors in 2005! So, needless to say, North Carolina won't be offering him.

A local newspaper said the game began at 6:30, so I showed up at Charlottesville High School, which is about 2 miles from the University of Virginia, at 6:10. I was not pleased to find that the varsity game was already under way, and that it was halfway through the third quarter. So, I'll have to go back again sometime to re-scout Jose Garcia . Still, he hit the winning basket in this game, a three-pointer that gave his team a 44-42 lead in a game that his St. Anne's-Belfield School Saints won 45-44 over the Charlottesville High School Black Knights. He also blocked a key three-pointer near the end of the game, made some snappy passes, and showed that he has the skills to defend point guards, despite his 6-5 height. St. Anne's-Belfield School is the school that is sending football star Chris Long to the University of Virginia, and it's a great academic high school. Most of the professors and doctors at the University of Virginia send their kids there. 100% of the graduating class goes on to college.

Jose Garcia is dark-skinned, and wears jersey number 42 and a dark headband. He could stand to gain more weight in his legs, but it's obvious why he's an ACC prospect. He also is a good high school soccer player, and doesn't play goalie like most tall players have to, which tells you something about his co-ordination.

Charlottesville High School has a bright orange floor in it's dimly-lit gymnasium. The gym stayed noisy without a pause due to the Charlottesville High cheerleaders, who never once stopped chanting, so although the crowd was only half-full, the place was noisy. St. Anne's-Belfield wore purple uniforms, and Jose Garcia wore wild-looking bright yellow sneakers that had a horizontal black stripe on them. Not hard to pick him out when he's on the court.



Max Emfinger now has the University of Virginia's football recruiting class rated number 56 in the nation, and Virginia Tech's recruiting class rated number 33. There are only 117 teams in big-time college football.

Last Saturday I went up to J.E.B. Stuart High to see them host Yorktown High in boy's basketball. Not much talent there. However, JEB Stuart High does have a freshman point guard who starts on their varsity, named Derrick Bowman , who although just 5-6, projects as a college prospect on some level. More later on that game, in this same date.

Someone at Great Bridge High in Chesapeake, Virginia reports that 6-10 junior basketball center (also a baseball player)Jared Alderson 'plays very little or sometimes not at all' for Great Bridge in basketball...

Tonight I went to see a great high school player play. His name:Tyrese Rice of Lloyd C. Bird High of Chesterfield, Virginia. Rice is listed at 6-0, but looks maybe about 5-11. No matter though. He's a better point guard than any college team in Virginia has right now. Of course, maybe that's not saying a lot, but he could start for any university in the state of Virginia: today.

Tyrese Rice came in to the game averaging 23.7 points-per-game, 7.3 assists, and 5 steals, according to sportswriterStephen M. Lewis of 'The Richmond Times-Dispatch.' Numerous big-time programs, including both Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, are recruiting Tyrese Rice, who resembles high school senior All-American Sebastian Tellfairof Brooklyn, New York in some ways. But Rice is just a junior.

In tonight's game Rice, see photo at left, courtesy of photographer Dean Hoffmeyer of 'The Richmond Times-Dispatch,'  scored 32 points and had numerous nifty passes. He looks to pass before he looks to shoot. He's a true point guard in every sense of the word, something that the state of Virginia hasn't seen on the collegiate level since Corey Alexander was playing for the University of Virginia 6 years ago. However, Rice did have to take 28 shots to score his 32 points, which is of some concern. He shot just 10-28 from the field, two of them three-pointers, and was 10-14 from the foul line. He's a magician with the ball: when he comes down court, you can see that there are passes he wants to make, but that he decides not to make, because what good would throwing a perfect, pin-point pass through the defense do if his teammate isn't talented enough to convert? So, he tries to stick to passes that his teammates can handle. He never shows frustration with his teammate's lack of ability, however. His man only scored 2 points, by my calculations. Rice wears number 5, and is an Allen Iverson-type player, but is unselfish. His team won the game 81-74 over the James River High School Rapids in a Friday, 7:45 P.M. game played at James River High in Midlothian, Virginia.

James River High is a fairly-new school: very modern-looking. Both James River High and Lloyd Bird High are in the 8-school Dominion District. At each end of the James River court, under the basket, on the baseline, were the words 'James River' in off-yellow. There was a big American Flag on the wall above and directly behind one basket, and to the left of that, the banners for the 8 schools in the Dominion District: Huguenot, Midlothian, Monacan, Manchester, Clover Hill, and George Wythe High's are the other 6 members. The gym felt like it was about 90 degrees, until, suddenly, midway through the 3rd quarter, the temperature dropped about 15 degrees, which felt great. The gym is named Chuck Collins Gymnasium, after a James River coach who died from cancer in 1998. On the walls near the ceiling, on each side of the court on top of the bleachers, were a lot of ads from the sponsors of James River athletics: Honda, Luck Stone, Sheetz, Whitten Brothers, etc. The bench seats that made up the gymnasium seating were dark green, as were the inside doors to the gym, and there was purple padding and paint behind each basket: the school colors of James River High are white and purple.

As for Tyrese Rice , I'm not saying that he'll play in the NBA one day. He probably won't, due to his lack of height. But he's THE ANSWER to the point guard problems at both Virginia and Virginia Tech. He can get by anyone with his dribble. A left-hander, he has a quick release on his jumper, and although it rarely went in from three-point range, it had perfect rotation on it. He has a soft shot, never plays out-of-control, and is supremely confident. Watching him play, you see just how badly-lacking both Virginia Tech and UVa are at the point guard position this season. Lloyd Bird High's JV team wore Carolina blue road uniforms, yet the Lloyd Bird High varsity wore dark blue road uniforms that had a one-inch stripe of Carolina blue along the bottom of the basketball shorts leg. Tyrese Rice wore black socks and black sneakers, along with a black headband. His team wore dark blue warm-up tops: many high school teams no longer wear warm-up pants. He has a youthful-looking face, so it's possible he could grow more, yet he's tightly-muscled, despite his lack of weight.

Rice may not appear on national recruiting lists yet, but he surely will be appearing soon.



Max Emfinger now has Virginia Tech's recruiting class rated number 33 in the nation, and the University of Virginia's number 53. Ouch. This would be UVa's poorest-rated class since 1987, when George Welsh had a difficult time recruiting coming off of a 3-8 season. Although UVa did get Olu Hall, a superb prospect from Robinson High in Fairfax, and although Virginia Tech got electrifying Eddie Royal of Westfield High, who ACC teams will have fits trying to cover, the player who I thought had the most NFL-potential of any high school senior I saw in Virginia this past season, 6-4 210 defensive back Kent Hicks of Culpeper High, is headed out-of-state to the University of Maryland. I predict he'll be an All-American there, with his combination of size, power, and athleticism. He intercepted 18 passes in his three years of high school, despite playing in a league where the ball isn't thrown that much, and physically resembles former Hampton High and present-day Oakland Raider Ronald Curry in appearance and style of play as a defensive back.

Since the men's Division 1 basketball teams in Virginia seem to struggle year-after-year, it would be great to see Oak Hill Academy's boy's basketball team on some sort of state-wide television network that could broadcast all of Oak Hill's games. Oak Hill has the top high school boy's program in the country, and really is a credit to the state of Virginia. I can't figure out why some college in Virginia hasn't picked Oak Hill coach Steve Smith to be their head men's basketball coach by now.



Football recruiting analyst Max Emfinger of Texas now has the University of Virginia's recruiting class so far rated #51 in the nation, meaning that it's dropped from #50 to #51! This is not good. But hopefully tomorrow, National Signing Day, will bring some good news.



According to football recruiting analyst Max Emfinger of Texas, who's been covering high school football recruiting for over 20 years, the University of Virginia, as of today, has only the #50 recruiting class in the nation (and just the ninth-best in the ACC!) out of 117 Division 1-A football schools. Emfinger rates each school's recruiting "per recruit," so that the number of recruits a school signs isn't a factor.

True, there are some very lightly-rated recruits that go on to become great college players, but for the most part, there is a greater probability that a player will be a good college player if he's highly-recruited than if he wasn't highly-recruited. At schools like the University of Virginia or Virginia Tech, fans are so interested in recruiting that they have a tendency to overrate every recruit, then criticize the coaching staffs 3 years later when the team doesn't win as much as the fans wanted them to. Maybe the time to second-guess coaches is during recruiting, not 3 years later. Just a thought. As a former student at both the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech, I feel that I can be somewhat objective about this.

These are tough days if you're a University of Virginia fan, with the men's basketball program in perhaps it's worst shape in the past 30 years, the women's basketball program likely to miss the NCAA tournament for the first time in 22 years, the men's soccer team no longer a national power, and as of today, the lowest-rated football recruiting class since before former coach George Welsh was at UVa.

What's the reason for all of this? I guess schools just go in cycles, and until UVa can get it's new basketball arena built, the down cycle is likely to continue at UVa: success in certain sports seems to help recruiting in other sports.



According to'Parade Magazine' their 2004 high school All-America football team will be coming out in the February 8 issue.



I drove to Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, Virginia, about 20 miles south of Roanoke, Virginia and about 40 miles north of the North Carolina border, on this icy cold winter night to see the last game of a quadruple-header. The game pitted Group AAA (large school) Franklin County High against the nation's number-one team, Oak Hill Academy of Mouth-Of-Wilson, Virginia. Mouth-Of-Wilson is located near the triangular area where the states of Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina meet. Oak Hill's coach has won over 90% of his games in his 30 years there, and has averaged about 30 wins a year.

As I try to basically just scout 9th, 10th, and 11th-graders, I was here to see these players play:

Bamba Fall (6-11 195 junior center, Oak Hill Academy)
K.C. Rivers (6-4 220 junior shooting guard, Oak Hill Academy)
Anthony Wright (6-6 230 sophomore forward, Oak Hill Academy)
Lewis Witcher (6-8 1/2 210 sophomore forward, Franklin County High)

Bamba Fall is rated by Van Coleman of
'FutureStars Magazine', in a list he did for 'Lindy's 2003-04 College Basketball Magazine,' as the nation's 32nd-best junior. Fall, who lives in Nigeria, can sprint up and down the court, has a smooth left-handed jump shot, and although he's painfully thin, appears likely to keep growing. Is he a poor man's Ralph Sampson , the former NBA first-round draft pick? No, but he could be a dominating shot-blocker in college, much like a center who played for Clemson back in the 1970's, Wayne 'Tree' Rollins.

David Benezra and Mark Mayemura of 'Recruiting USA' in a list they did for 'Athlon Sports 2003-04 College Basketball Annual,' rate K.C. Rivers as the nation's 34th-best junior.

Rob Bodenburg and Jon Mahoney of 'The Sporting News SchoolSports High School Hoops' magazine, rate K.C. Rivers as the nation's 30th-best junior. K.C. Rivers , who averaged 22 points-per-game last season as a 10th-grader in Charlotte, North Carolina, looked outstanding to me: he can hit the three-point shot all night, and he has great size and power.

Anthony Wright , a native of Washington, D.C., has powerful legs, can jump, and has excellant potential as a future big-timer, although I don't see him ever playing in the NBA. Speaking of Lewis Witcher, a sportswriter who's followed him closely told me that 'the best thing that could have come from Franklin County's game against Oak Hill was that Lewis Witcher saw that he could play at that level.'

'Witcher is a legit 6-8 but at age 15 he is still very slender. Franklin County also has another insider so Witcher doesn't have to carry the whole load inside. Witcher has the athleticism to catch an alley-oop pass for a two-handed slam and go way up for rebounds.'

'He still needs to work on his shooting touch and he really doesn't show a lot of fundamental moves inside yet (drop step, up-and-under, etc.)'

'He seems to be a good-natured kid. I think the coaching staff was worried he might be a little soft but the Oak Hill game went a long way to allaying those concerns.'

Although Oak Hill won this game 89-36, Lewis Witcher did show potential. He scored 18 points. He had 2 dunks, one which Oak Hill players hanging on his arms, although no foul was called. He made all of his foul shots. He was handicapped by playing on a team that was basically talentless. And after all, this year's Oak Hill team is one of the greatest high school basketball teams ever, and probably the best one Oak Hill has ever had. Still, like Bamba Fall he has a lot of eating to do.

The two players who constantly brought the standing-room only crowd out of their seats were both Oak Hill Academy seniors, and I won't say much about them since I don't go to scout seniors, particularly seniors who are headed out-of-state to play their college ball. However, wearing jersey number 42, senior 6-8 230 dunking machine Joshua Smith , who's headed to the University of Indiana, showed that he may be capable of going straight to the NBA after this year, if only to sit on the bench for some NBA team. Rated as high as the top senior in the nation by one publicatrion, he sent the crowd of teenage males in to hysterics with a couple of his gravity-defying jams. And wearing jersey number 44, 6-10 240 Brian Johnson , who transferred to Oak Hill from O'Connell High in Arlington, Virginia, is a huge loss for the collegiate programs in the state of Virginia. Rated among the nation's top 10 seniors by one source, he also has 'future NBA player' written all over him, and is one of the best inside players the state of Virginia has produced in years. He's at least as good a prospect as former University of North Carolina big man J. R. Reid.Oh well...



I went to Richmond, Virginia's Benedictine High School tonight to see 3 more underclass basketball prospects in Virginia play:

Sarynaus Mikalauskas a 6-8 240-pound junior power forward who hails from Lithuania, wearing number 11 for Blue Ridge School of St.George, VA)
Matt Kittrell (a 6-9 210 junior center, wearing number 21 for Benedictine High School of Richmond, VA)
Reid Augst (a 6-6 210 point guard, wearing number 22 for Benedictine High School of Richmond, VA)

According to the 'Charlottesville Daily Progress,' the University of Virginia has been to scoutMikalauskas, who plays very hard. With his huge jaw and powerful chest, he reminds me physically and mentally of a 17 year-old going on 35. I guess that to go to high school 5,000 miles from home, it takes a very high level of maturity. Mikalauskas reminds me in many ways of former University of Virginia basketball player Matt Blundin, although he's more talented. Is he an ACC-caliber player? Yes. Is he fast enough to press with on defense in the ACC? Yes.

Is he one of those rare prospects who's good enough to have in your starting lineup if you want to finish in the top 3 in the ACC in the regular season? No.

I was very disappointed with the play ofAugst , who I would now say is not an ACC-caliber player. Although he plays point guard on offense, he's not talented enough to play it in a good Division 1 basketball conference. Perhaps he could play for a team like William & Mary, however. At best, he may be another Dirk Katstra , a former University of Virginia player who played little at UVa. As for Kittrell , it's just too soon to say. He's weak physically, but has potential. Don't all 6-9 juniors have potential?

Blue Ridge came from 14 points down in the third quarter to stun the noisy Benedictine home crowd by winning over Benedictine 76-71. Mikalauskas had 20 points, most of them on layups, but he's capable of dunking easily, also. The best player on the court was Benedictine's tireless senior forward Bambale Osby , who's listed at 6-8, but is probably around 6-6 1/2. He has already signed early with the University of New Mexico. He's kind of a poor man's George Lynch, the ex-University of North Carolina star. He can palm the ball and is a great athlete, but lacks the height to play power forward in the ACC.



I went to see Vernon Macklin play today, on a sunny but 10-degree, frigid day at modern-looking Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Macklin's nickname is "Big Ticket," the same nickname that NBA star Kevin Garnett has, because Macklin resembles Garnett physically at the same age, that of a sophomore in high school. He plays for I.C. Norcom High in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Basketball Phenoms (Class of 2006) rates Macklin as the nation's second-best high school sophomore. Macklin is 6-9 and weighs 195 pounds: he's a forward, probably even a small forward. I went to see him in the one-day (Adidas Welcomes You To)"The Battle Of The Bay" basketball classic, held in the J. William Myers Gymnasium, also known as "The Dollar Dome," at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, in the southeastern part of Virginia, near the North Carolina border. The gym was great: it was big, the seats were blue, there were stands on all four sides of the court, and there were thousands of people there. There were 5 games in a row being played today, but I was only interested in two of them.

" Basketball Phenoms (Class of 2006)" also rates another Virginian, now-6-4 sophomore point guard Devin Johnson of Meadowbrook High, as the nation's 21st-best sophomore. Today, Meadowbrook was taking on Macklin's I.C. Norcom High School team. More on Johnson later.

Meadowbrook won this game, 63-53. Even without the ball, Macklin was always double-teamed. With it, he had 3 and sometimes 4 players converging on him. He only scored 17 points. With the exception of 6-4 sophomore forward Benjamin Finney , who has gathered some national interest due to his performances in AAU play, the rest of Macklin 's team is horrendous. Finney looks like an ACC player, but he seems to be a poor shooter, ball-handler, and passer. He wasn't able to help his team break the press, and they had 7 turnovers in the third quarter alone.Macklin has hinted that he may go to Oak Hill Academy for the next two years, and who could blame him? It's amazing that he never appears frustrated or angry on the court, even though his team can't break a press, hit open jump shots, or learn how to feed him the ball. He throws great outlet passes that his teammates lack the talent to utilize. Macklin 's team was wearing black NIKE shoes and a purple warm-up top. His team's uniform had a white jersey and white shorts. Macklin is thin: he's kind of bird-chested. But he has a quickness that just can't be taught, and he doesn't mind posting up on offense every time down the court: a lot of big men would rather drift away from the basket on offense. He's an explosive leaper.

Macklin doesn't really look that much like Kevin Garnett at the same age. He's not as wiry-strong as Garnett was. His only real weakness as a player is that he releases his jump shot just above his head, instead of releasing it higher by extending his arms higher, so he has a tougher time going straight up and shooting as he should.

Devin Johnson is a muscled, smooth, tall point guard who I'd say is already wrapped up for Duke if Duke wants him. He looks like a Duke kind of a recruit: clean-cut. Johnson lives with his brother, who is a certified public accountant. Who does Johnson remind me of? No one really, but there are some physical similarities to Maryland sophomore point guard John Gilchrist . Physically, he looks a little like Kobe Bryant did at the same age, but of course, he doesn't have nearly the talent level of Kobe Bryant. He has some unstoppable spin dribbles, and although he only scored 11 points in this game, it was mostly because it was a low-scoring game. He's pretty much everything you could want in a point guard, on and off the court, which is why the private high schools in Virginia are trying to get him to transfer there. He controls a game with his flawless ball-handling. His Meadowbrook High team, from Richmond, Virginia, was wearing white socks, white shoes that were half-black in the back with a white heel showing through, and all-blue uniforms that had a wide gold stripe up the sides of the shorts. Neither team played very well: at the end of the first quarter, the score was only 8-5, Norcum. He's too powerful and tall for high school point guards to control, and he's bound to get even better.

Before this game, I watched Herndon High take on Salem High of Virginia Beach. Herndon High has a sophomore 6-0 guard named Scotty Reynolds . I tried to pick him out among his teammates, but was only able to narrow it down to 2 out of 13 players, and he was one of those 2. Herndon had black socks, black shoes with 3 white stripes, black jerseys with red numerals, and black shorts with red on the sides. Their warm-ups were just black warm-up tops that had white sleeves and a big red "H" in the center of the chest. As a freshman, Reynolds had averaged over 10 points-per-game on the varsity last season, while leading Herndon High to a 26-4 record. I had heard about Reynolds , who scored 39 points in one game this season, but figured that the level of high school competition in northern Virginia is poor, so I guessed that he must not be anything special. But I was wrong.Reynolds is probably the best pure jump shooter I've ever seen as a high school player in Virginia, and that includes Allen Iverson and even J.J. Redick! Reynolds ' jump shot is perfect: he reminds me of former UVa star Bryant Stith , minus 5 inches. Will Reynolds play in the NBA one day? I doubt it. Will he play in the ACC? Who knows? But he's sure to play Division 1 basketball one day, and it's worth the price of admission just to watch him take his man one-on-one and light it up. What a player!

Herndon won the game over Salem, 67-66, and Reynolds scored 35 points, even though he missed part of the first half after he was elbowed in the face and started bleeding. His team is now 11-2. Salem is now 7-6. To let you picture what Salem looked like, they wore all--white, but the back half of their shoes were red with just a white heel. Salem's well-known senior 6-8 215 forward Donnie Stith was frozen out by his own guards for most of the game. Then, at the end, he got the ball a few times, and showed some talent. He reminds me of Lorenza Watson , a 6-10 player from Buckingham County High School who played center for Virginia Commonwealth University back around 1973-1977. Or you could say he physically looks like a player who transferred from the University of North Carolina to Louisville back in the 1980's, Clifford Rozier. He's mostly a defensive player, plays much bigger than his height due to his long arms, and some of the low-major schools in Virginia, such as William & Mary, VMI, James Madison, and George Mason didn't do their recruiting job properly by letting a player like this leave the state to go to Tulane. Oh well: the more things change, the more they stay the same...

I happened to catch the last few minutes of a game between Coastal Christian Academy of Virginia Beach as they played Laurinburg Institute of North Carolina. I had no real interest in this game, since I try to just scout 9th, 10th, and 11th-graders, but it is somewhat interesting that Coastal Christian Academy has a player, 6-10 260-lbs. senior Jackie Butler, who started off this year at Laurinburg Institute and then switched to Coastal Christian Academy. He verbally committed to the University of Mississippi, as a senior in high school, and then to the University of Tennessee recently, but didn't qualify academically for a scholarship. Last year in high school, he was a second-team Parade High School All-American for McComb, Mississippi High School. Is there any chance he could interest in Virginia or Virginia Tech? Not to my knowledge. Despite his weight, he's lean and looks like an athletic big man. You'd never guess that he weighs 260: he is as slender as a man who weighs 210, and he can run FAST. As far as his talent goes, his hands appeared to be suspect. But it's too bad that he's just passing through the state of Virginia, probably on his way straight to the NBA and skipping college altogether.



I went to a tiny, brand-new gym in Charlottesville to see unknown junior center Wikrum Bajwa play. Bajwa is a 6-11 player for Holy Cross High School in Lynchburg, Virginia. You won't find him on any list of prospects, although he does start for Holy Cross, and does have some shot-blocking skills. He wears goggles, is slender, and is neither athletic nor a leaper. He did not score. His team won the Covenant Christmas Classic by beating The Covenant School of Charlottesville, 64-55.

I was impressed, however, with 5-10 freshman point guard Waverly Washington of Covenant. Washington is similar in some ways to 5-10 former University of Virginia point guard John Johnson as far as shooting style goes. Washington scored 13 points, and is a smooth penetrator and flawless ballhandler. His style is a little like former Georgia Tech point guard Kenny Anderson .(Just a little. We're just talking about high school ball here.) However, he needs a lot of work on his shooting. Still, he will be playing Division 1 basketball in 4 years.



A sportswriter who's seen 7-2 junior center Matt Hewson of the Hylton High School boys' basketball squad in Woodbridge, VA told me that "It looks like Matt might need some work... Matt should be pretty decent next year if he's healthy and I would think might get some looks just because of his size. He'll have to bulk up, though, in order to play at the next level..."



How good is the high school football in Virginia? Well, it's not nearly as good as the boys' high school basketball in Virginia is, not with Oak Hill Academy here in the state of Virginia. In fact, apparently it's average. However, the post-graduate teams at Fork Union Military and Hargrave Military give the state of Virginia something that the other ACC states don't have. Still, on the USA Today High School Football All-America Team' that came out on December 22, not a single player from the state of Virginia made the 46-player first or second teams, nor did a player from the state of Virginia make the list of"Ten Juniors To Watch" nationally for next year. Even the state of North Carolina had 3 players on the 46-player list of seniors, and no high school team from Virginia was on the 'USA Today Final Top 25 Teams', although 5 teams from other ACC states made the top 25 list.

What does this all mean? It means that the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech have to do a lot of their recruiting out-of-state some years, and that's always much more difficult.



Sometimes there's no point in sugar-coating things. I went to see seven-foot two-inch junior Matt Hewson of Hylton High School in Woodbridge, Virginia play tonight, and he didn't even start: he was the sixth man.

However, don't forget that the University of Virginia was glad to sign 6-11 senior center Tunji Soroye of Montrose Christian in Kensington, Maryland, who also didn't start as a junior, and who is averaging only 10 points a game this year, yet UVa is counting on him being at least a 3-year starter for the Wahoos.

Hewson transferred to Hylton High from Paul VI High School, and is the tallest high school player in Virginia, so I decided to go scout him. Cecil Hylton High School is on Spriggs Road, off of 234 North, which is off of 95 North. The traffic on 95 North isn't too bad, but on 95 South, it's a nightmare at almost anytime of the day. To get to Hylton High, you pass by brand-new Forest Park High School first. This whole area is a big, heavily populated area that is constantly building more and more large high schools. Hylton High probably has the best high school football program in Virginia, but sure isn't known for boys basketball. However, I counted 105 district, regional, (12) state, and national championship banners hanging from the Hylton High School gym, although Hylton was just opened in 1993. Many of the gyms in northern Virginia are nicer and bigger than some of the college gyms in Virginia.

Hylton was wearing white warm-up shirts with a black line on the front and back that met a yellowish-goldish line on the front and back, in kind of a "V" on the front and back of the shirts, starting under the arm of each shoulder. The "V" came to a point in the middle of the back, and the middle of the front. Hylton High wore white shorts with wide black trim, and a wide stripe running up the side of each leg. Hylton's jerseys had brown numerals with the yellowish-goldish trim. Potomac High had Carolina blue high top blue shoes with dark blue shorts and jerseys, and Carolina blue uniform numbers with black trim. The Hylton High gym was impressive, seats almost 3,000 spectators, and had a huge lobby. Although the temperature outside was in the 20's and snow was on the ground, all of the tennis courts were lit up...

Hylton competes in the Cardinal District and the Northwest Region. Both benches were on the same side of the court. The gym was capable of being converted in to 6 basketball courts. The first game, the girls' game, ran until 7:24, so the boys game started around 7:50 instead of 7:30.

The Hylton Bulldogs were playing host to the Potomac Panthers of Dumfries, Virginia. Potomac High coach Kendall Hayes is a legendary coach in Virginia, and his team's full-court press (and the outside shooting of his son) befuddled the entire Hylton High team. Potomac led 14-8 at the end of the first quarter, 34-23 at the halftime, then 54-34 after the nine-minute halftime intermission and third quarter, and then won 75-56. I counted at least 20 turnovers for Hylton.

Hewson looks every bit of 7-2, but I'd guess he only weighs about 205 pounds. He may still be growing. He plays very aggressively. In fact, he plays so aggressively that I calculated that he fouled out in just 7 minutes and 32 seconds of play! He only had 2 points and 4 rebounds, but it's hard to score when your guards can't get the ball past the half-court line, refuse to (or are unable to) pass you the ball when you post up, and instead jack up hopeless three-pointers. From all reports, Hewson had played much better (and more) in Hylton High's opening game of the year against Osbourn Park.

Facially, Hewson resembles former Duke star Mike Dunleavy. His calves are fairly strong, but his upper body is bony. At this point, he's a Division II prospect. But in high school recruiting, some big men suddenly develop athletically very quickly and enexpectedly, so who knows? Hewson has a soft shot and some bounce. He entered the game at the 2:14 mark of the first period, and then came out at the 5:58 mark of the second period. He entered the third period at the 3:11 mark and was taken out at the 1:16 mark. Then, in the last quarter, he entered at the 3:04 mark and fouled out at the 1:33 mark. Because no one would (or was able to) pass him the ball, he tried reaching for it over the backs of defenders. He plays with a lot of intensity. He had a few intimidations on defense, and had some good offensive rebounds. He can jump up to the 11-foot mark. He had to wear a different kind of shoe than his teammates, a NIKE shoe, because of the size of his feet. There were no game programs or rosters available at this game.


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