Like most of the region’s top basketball players, the only question for Trimble was which private school he would attend. Trimble, considered one of the top players in the local class of 2014, picked O’Connell in Arlington over Prince George’s private schools DeMatha and McNamara.
“In basketball, it’s a different world,” said Magruder Coach Dan Harwood, who has guided the Colonels to five regional titles in his 21 seasons at his Derwood school. “The [Washington Catholic Athletic Conference] is a notch above everybody else, maybe two notches.”
While most coaches agreed that private schools, especially WCAC powers like DeMatha and Gonzaga, have been landing the area’s top players for quite some time, the disparity seems to be growing. And for top players, the options are no longer limited to the 10 schools in the WCAC, as more private schools appear to be turning to their basketball programs to raise the school profile.
Interstate Athletic Conference teams such as Episcopal, Landon and Bullis have made a push for players; Bullis this season added standout center Andre Walker from Clarksburg, but he is sitting out this season to improve his academic standing. Schools in the Mid-Atlantic Conference — such as Maret, Sidwell Friends and Potomac School – have also entered the fray, changing the image of a league previously considered way down in the basketball pecking order.
Then there are independent programs, such as Montrose Christian, National Christian and Riverdale Baptist. Montrose Christian’s roster includes players from six countries, but some of the Mustangs’ top recent players have come from the Mid-Atlantic region, including 2006 All-Met Player of the Year Kevin Durant, who lived in Suitland, and current standout Justin Anderson, whose family now lives in Montross, Va.
“It’s been a trend for many years, and it certainly has trended upward,” said Montrose Christian Coach Stu Vetter, who has been coaching locally since 1975.
By any measure, it is clear that the top basketball is being played in the private schools. Twelve of The Post’s preseason Top 20 are private schools. Of the 30 players on The Post’s All-Met first-team the past three seasons, just seven have come from public schools and only once since 2004 has there been more first-teamers from public schools than private schools.
Many of the top public school players have developed considerably during their high school careers. Consider last season’s All-Met Player of the Year Greg Whittington, who burst onto the scene after his junior year at Oakland Mills. Others have followed similar paths.
“Most of our players, when they come in, they’re not finished products,” said Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Brendan O’Connell, who has guided the Greenbelt school to four regional titles in his six seasons.