As the NCAA tournament raged on Sunday, the likes of Ohio State and Florida Gulf Coast simultaneously salvaging and busting brackets everywhere, the next crop of college players took to the court at Trinity University.
Sickles (Fla.) senior Malcolm Johnson earned MVP honors after tipping in a shot at the buzzer to give the North, made up of mostly DMV players, an 89-87 victory against the South.
But while the riveting ending lived up to the star power surrounding the contest, most of the focus was on how each player stacked up against elite-level competition. Here’s a breakdown of how a few of the players project for the college ranks:
F Damonte Dodd, Massanutten Military Academy, Maryland recruit
The 6-foot-10 post player was one of the most active players on both ends of the court. At 238 pounds, Dodd can run the floor and shows flashes of a mid-range game. He’s not afraid to bang inside and is sound defensively with his footwork and shot-blocking ability. Dodd’s year of post-grad education at Massanutten appears to have polished his game well as he prepares to join a Terrapins team that likes to run. As he continues to fill out his frame, Dodd will have to evolve his post game to where he cuts out the fadeaways and relies on strong moves to the basket. Good get for the Terps.
F/G Malachi Alexander, Eleanor Roosevelt, Holy Cross recruit
Fresh off leading Eleanor Roosevelt to the Maryland 4A championship, Alexander continued to impress. As was the case during the state semifinal and final, Alexander showed his ability to handle the ball before using his quickness to create off the dribble and in the post. On one impressive sequence, he caught it in the post, faced up his defender, attacked left, dribbled behind his back, pump faked, spun back to the left and finished in the paint. Alexander’s improving array of skills, mixed with his high motor, should pay dividends at Holy Cross.
“A lot of the guys in the post are stronger than me, so I try to use my quickness with face-up moves to score and make plays,” Alexander said. “That, along with my ball handling and my shot, are things Holy Cross said they wanted me to improve and I feel like I am.”
G C.J. Hill, Westfield, Undecided
Hill’s strong finish to the season poured into Sunday’s contest. At times, the 6-foot-2 senior played the role of distributor, finding the sharpshooting Zach Fong for open looks. On other occasions, he attacked behind a deceptively quick first step. Hill also put together a solid defensive effort that helped somewhat slow the South team’s immense athleticism. Hill is deciding between Adelphia and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
G Zach Fong, Gar-Field, Navy recruit
I knew Fong could shoot, what with the senior guard draining 103 three-pointers this past season; but he still managed to blow me away with his precision from the outside. Fong hit four threes in the second half, with a few coming in the flow of transition. He’s always ready to shoot and his form is a thing of beauty. Between him and Malcolm Johnson, the Navy reeled in two steals on the recruiting trail.
G Elliot Pitts, De La Salle (Calif.), Arizona recruit
Ranked No. 100 in the ESPN senior class rankings, Pitts stood as the game’s highest-level recruit and he backed it up. Possessing capable ball skills that allow him to score from all over, Pitts kept the South team rolling with timely baskets and passes while playing at a nice pace. Afterward, Pitts said the game was a nice primer for college as he was able to face players who were bigger than the ones he typically played against in California. A balanced guard with a high basketball IQ can only help the Wildcats, who advanced to the Sweet 16 this past weekend.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 16
The age of Magruder senior Justin Witmer, who committed to play basketball at Salisbury over the weekend.
–Glenelg’s softball team scored 15 runs in the first two innings, making quick of Glen Burnie in an 18-5 win on Saturday.
–Following in the footsteps of VCU, George Mason will leave the CAA and join the Atlantic 10, effective July 1.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
Paul VI at O’Connell, 4:30 p.m.
In this WCAC baseball battle, perennial power Paul VI will travel to face an O’Connell squad that many have labeled a team to watch in the area.