Oakton girls’ basketball Coach Fred Priester, announced Thursday as head coach of the East team in the McDonald’s All American Game, said he was pleasantly surprised to be selected for the honor.
“It was one of those ‘wow’ moments that you have in life,” Priester said Friday afternoon, hours before his 18th-ranked team was to face No. 14 Centreville in the Virginia AAA Concorde District final. “I didn’t get any big buildup or ‘hey, we’re thinking about you.’ I just opened the e-mail [about two weeks ago] and there it was.”
Priester, the 2009 All-Met coach of the year, will guide a team, released Thursday on ESPNU, that includes St. John’s guard Lindsay Allen, a two-time All-Met and the only local player selected to either the boys’ or girls’ game.
Allen and another East teammate are bound for Notre Dame, and the other East players have committed to Maryland, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Northwestern, Florida, Florida State and South Carolina. The Maryland player is guard Lexie Brown from North Gwinnett High in Georgia.
“I’m going to try not to get in their way,” said Priester, whose Oakton team went 31-0 last year and won its third Northern Region title in four years. “I’ll not try to over-coach, that’s for sure. I’ll make sure everybody gets an opportunity to showcase what they can do.
“In some ways, I’ll be a fan like anyone else. It’s just cool to have the opportunity to be around those players. I think the whole weekend will be really special.”
The 12th annual girls’ game, preceded by days of accompanying events, will be played April 3 at United Center in Chicago. Priester has coached in two Capital Classic all-star games, and former Oakton player Jasmine Thomas, the 2007 All-Met player of the year, was the MVP of the 2007 McDonald’s game.
Priester, in his 19th season at Oakton and 29th as a head coach, said the key to coaching in all-star games is to try to get the best combinations on the floor and to look for matchups that might favor his players.
His assistants will be long-time Oakton assistant Krista Jay and Loudoun County Coach Derek Fisher, who used to assist Priester at Oakton and played for him at McLean when Priester coached baseball and football there.
“When it comes to high school games, there’s probably none more important,” Fisher said. “To be a part of it is just amazing.”