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: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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,
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.
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 'maxemfingerrecruiting.com' 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...
...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.
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 email@example.com, 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 "HoopScoopOnline.com"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
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
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 hoopscooponline.com
Radford was rated #158 nationally in his class by hoopscooponline.com
Welsh was rated #125 nationally in his class by hoopscooponline.com
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