When just seven of the 10 expected U.S. All-Stars walked out for warm-ups before Sunday’s Capital Classic at T.C. Williams, some whispered that the 40th annual game had the makings of a letdown. And when the U.S. squad surged ahead of the Capital All-Stars by 15 points in the second half, things appeared headed that way.
But midway through the fourth quarter, the competitive juices and exciting back-and-forth flow play began flowing at just the right time. A barrage of threes from both teams resulted in a tie game with about two minutes left before the U.S. squad pulled away for a 126-120 win. Mount St. Joseph’s Kameron Williams earned MVP honors with 25 points for the U.S. team.
Williams will play at Ohio State next winter, highlighting a strong list of destinations for players on both rosters, many of whom have been competing against one another for years now.
“I’m nostalgic because I knew this class when they were nine or ten years old through AAU, and just to see them become the players and young men they are is incredible,” said Sidwell Friends Coach Eric Singletary, who played for the Capital All-Stars in the 1993 contest. “I love the Capital Classic and would love to see some of its fanfare get back to what it was. Late in the game, it became what it should be, where the players seemed to be playing harder and things got more competitive.”
With top-notch talent taking the floor in both the showcase game and the District-Suburban contest, there were plenty of nuggets and observations, so here’s my take on everything:
—Gonzaga‘s Kris Jenkins and St. John’s Lindsey Allen were honored as Mr. and Mrs. Basketball at halftime. Jenkins, who will play at Villanova, and Allen, a Notre Dame recruit, were the All-Met boys’ and girls’ basketball players of the year this past winter.
–While points are easier to come by in all-star games, Montrose Christian‘s Ishmail Wainright, who played the role of facilitator most of this past season, showed the same offensive awareness that was on display at the National High School Invitational earlier this month. Not only does the 6-foot-6, 225-pounder have a solid mid-range game and ability to attack off the dribble but he’s a threat to score or pass out of the post, making him a tough matchup. The Baylor recruit finished with 20 points.
–Another Montrose Christian forward impressed Sunday, with Mark Williams earning MVP in the District All-Stars 118-88 win against the Suburban All-Stars. In a game like this, it’s ordinary to see a big man try his hand from behind the arc, but for Williams, that’s the norm. His three-pointer during a seven-point third quarter helped propel his team to victory and cap a strong senior campaign before heading to Temple. As MVP, Williams follows in the footsteps of Montrose Christian alum and current George Washington sophomore forward Kevin Larsen, who won the honor for the District squad last year.
–Princeton Day‘s Aquille Carr never ceases to electrify a crowd. The Capital All-Stars employed a mass substitution system that made it tough for Carr to find a rhythm early. But the 5-foot-6 guard got hot late, scoring eight of his game-high 29 points in the fourth to rally his team and get the crowd going after a ho-hum first half. Carr is still considering offers before officially venturing overseas. Princeton Day Coach Van Whitfield also told me that, depending on when Carr signs with a team, the point guard is tentatively expected to play on the NBA Legends tour in China beginning in June.
–Findlay Prep (Nev.) senior and former Paul VI standout Stan Robinson told me the biggest thing he learned from his past season in Nevada was how to excel as a guard, his natural position. Robinson’s development was evident, as the Indiana recruit was able to dribble through traffic and make moves in transition with relative ease. With Victor Oladipo departing for the NBA and the graduation of Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford, this improvement in Robinson’s game should greatly help the Hoosiers next season.
–Oak Hill Academy forward Lennard Freeman reiterated that he’s narrowed his college list to four schools: N.C. State, Pittsburgh, UAB and Villanova. The former St. John’s player said he plans to decide “in the next two weeks” after taking a final visit to UAB.
—O’Connell senior Junior Etou told me his list of schools is down to Rutgers, Washington and Xavier. The forward, who enjoyed his recent visit to Washington, said he’s not sure when he will decide on a college.
—Fairfax guard Zack Burnett committed to play at Lynchburg on April 20. The sharpshooter made his choice during a four-school road trip with his dad that also included Guilford, Randolph Morris and Roanoke. After playing well in a few pickup games at Lynchburg, both the coaches and Burnett liked what they saw. “I felt like it was the best fit for me and it’s a place where I feel like I can make an instant impact,” Burnett said Sunday after scoring four points for the Suburban All-Stars. “They are losing their two guards and top three scorers, so I’m in a position to step up with my shooting and ability to spread the defense.”
—Riverdale Baptist senior Nigel Johnson was unable to compete due to a foot sprain. The newly committed Kansas State recruit was on crutches and is expected be sidelined for 3-6 weeks before heading to Manhattan in June.
–With the arrival of Pittsburgh and Syracuse next season, ACC basketball will be that much more exciting and Sunday brought a glimpse of a recruit from each program. Pittsburgh recruit Mike Young from St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) is a physical forward who seems to enjoy rebounding and getting buckets the hard way. Meantime, Syracuse signee B.J. Johnson of Lower Merion (Pa.) is a smooth shooting guard with range and a penchant for slicing through traffic to the basket. Meantime, Providence, one of the few original remaining members of the Big East, should be excited for the arrival of Brandon Austin. The Imhotep (Pa.) swingman has a nice jumper to go with his impressive hops. His ability to score in bunches helped the U.S. All-Stars build its large second-half lead before things got competitive.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 4:04.47
Time in minutes and seconds it took Chantilly’s Sean McGorty to finish at the Penn Relays, breaking the meet record and marking the top time in the U.S. this year. Click here for more coverage from the meet.
-In a meeting between two of the nation’s top softball teams, No. 1 Southern beat No. 2 O’Connell, 3-0, behind Jess Cummings’ 16 strikeouts. Northern has now won 68 straight games.
-At the Penn Relays, Westfield’s girls’ team came up just short of defending its 4×800 relay title, while South County’s Felecia Majors led a quartet of local girls who won gold watches in individual events.
–National Cathedral and St. Albans were victorious at the Charlie Butt Regatta.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY (weather pending)
No. 8 Atholton at No. 5 Glenelg softball, 4 p.m.
With first place in the Howard County standings on the line, Atholton will look to avenge its lone loss of the season while Glenleg strives to remain unbeaten.
No. 7 Forest Park at No. 4 Chantilly girls’ soccer, 7 p.m
The matchup marks the second straight contest against a ranked opponent for both teams in this nondistrict game. Defense will be key, with Forest Park boasting scoring machine Annah Lindberg (18 goals) and Chantilly possessing a balanced, speedy offensive attack.