With Sunday’s Capital Classic marking the last high school game for the 18 participating seniors, a natural aura of nostalgia colored the chatter as players milled among fans following the 40th annual event at T.C. Williams.
But while much of the crowd flocked to the Capital All-Stars, who had just endured a 126-120 defeat, most made sure to send well wishes to two of the victorious U.S. All-Stars: Lennard Freeman and Stanford Robinson. For this duo, playing at the Alexandria school essentially amounted to a final home game for the former St. John’s and Paul VI standouts.
“At first, I was kind of wishing I could be on the Capital team since I’m from here and I wasn’t really used to playing against those guys,” said Freeman, who played at Oak Hill Academy as a senior after transferring from St. John’s. “But it was fun just playing with everybody in our last high school game.”
Robinson, who competed at Findlay Prep (Nev.) after transferring from Paul VI last year, echoed Freeman’s final sentiments, saying “it was fun competing against a lot of the guys I grew up playing with.”
The Indiana recruit’s good-natured attitude surfaced often during the game, as he relayed a few friendly words of trash talk and brandished several sly smiles following big dunks.
Robinson’s 19 points helped the U.S. All-Stars build a 15-point lead in the third quarter. But the Capital All-Stars rallied behind the play of Princeton Day’s Aquille Carr (game-high 29 points) and Montrose Christian’s Ishmail Wainright to tie the game at 111 with two minutes remaining.
Ultimately, it wasn’t enough. Mount St. Joseph’s Kameron Williams drained three three-pointers in the fourth period to secure the U.S. win and earn MVP honors behind his team-high 25 points. Williams will play at Ohio State next season.
Victory for the U.S. squad, which also won last year’s game, proved a test of postseason endurance. Just seven players suited up for the team, minimizing some of the luster behind an event that’s drawn the likes of LeBron James and Michael Jordan since its inception in 1974.
Still, from the local roots resting on the U.S. roster to the Capital squad heralding players headed to the ACC, Big 12 and even overseas, the game carried out its purpose, serving as a platform for the top-level talent within the D.C. area and across the nation.
“You’ve got Stan going to Indiana, Aquille going pro overseas and just all this talent, so it’s great to have us all here in one place for this game,” said Wainright, who had 20 points in his final game before heading to Baylor. “To me, coming from the Midwest, the D.C. area is the mecca of basketball.”
Fellow Montrose Christian senior Mark Williams, who is committed to Temple, earned MVP honors in Sunday’s first game, scoring a game-high 21 points to lead the District All-Stars past the Suburban All-Stars, 118-88.