Romone Saunders stays under the radar for star-studded Potomac (Md.)

Romone Saunders, shown here battling Allen Costley for a rebound, played in Saturday’s Maryland 3A final loss to Milford Mill despite a sprained ankle. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

On Thursday, Potomac (Md.) senior Romone Saunders needed his father to carry him from Comcast Center, unable to put weight on his ailing sprained left ankle after the ninth-ranked Wolverines knocked off Reservoir, 64-57, in a Maryland 3A state semifinal.

At a local hospital later that night, a doctor told the 6-foot-3 swingman he’d need to rest for a week, adding it would take “a miracle” for him to be back on the court for Saturday’s championship game.

Saunders accepted that diagnosis as a challenge, and when Potomac took the floor less than two days later, the team’s third-leading scorer was in the starting lineup. Though slowed down by the injury in his final high school game, Saunders played without a brace in the 84-55 loss to Milford Mill and finished with six points and four rebounds in 21 minutes.

“I asked my father to give me the best support he could, icing me down all day and night,” Saunders said. “It was painful, but I just played on it. I put tape on it and went out and prayed.”

Saunders, who scored 12.2 points per game this season, can get lost in the shuffle on a team with no shortage of star power. Junior swingman Dion Wiley is among the area’s most highly recruited players and point guard Randall Broddie appears ticketed for a high-major college program.

On the recruiting front, Saunders has not generated nearly as much buzz, but he has played an important role in Potomac’s recent turnaround, averaging double figures the past two seasons. Coach Renard Johnson called his player “the glue to the team.”

Though Saunders has no firm scholarship offers yet, he said he has been in conversation with Division I coaches at VMI and UNC-Wilmington and also looked into opportunities at Division II Lynchburg College, West Virginia State and Bowie State. If healthy enough, he plans to play in Friday’s Prince George’s County senior all-star game at Prince George’s Community College.

“He’ll be somewhere [next year] and deservedly so,” Johnson said. “He’s a very good player on a very good team with two superstars and he still holds his own.”

As a sophomore, Saunders logged five games of varsity action on the squad that went 4-16. A starter the past two years, the Wolverines have posted a combined 40-11 record, advancing to the state tournament this year for the first time since 2006.

Wiley and Saunders were the only returning starters off the squad that fell to Thomas Stone in last year’s Maryland 3A South final.

After Saturday’s loss, which was attended by Georgetown Coach John Thompson III and Virginia Tech Coach James Johnson among others, Renard Johnson, a Potomac grad, talked about building for future success at the Oxon Hill school. He said he wants to show neighborhood players they don’t need to go to a private school to earn big-time exposure.

“When I was a 10th grader, you wouldn’t see any coaches dare to come down to our school,” Saunders said. “[In] 11th and 12th grade, you started to see coaches all the time. There’s the Maryland coach. There’s the Virginia coach. They’re just coming like, ‘Wow, you’re really doing something here, making a big change.’ ”

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Matt McFarland · March 18, 2013