Boys’ basketball: Coolidge’s Jamall Gregory aims to prove he’s more than a high-flyer

Coolidge forward Jamall Gregory calls his athleticism a “blessing and a curse,” because he fears that his tendency to electrify crowds with plays at the rim has cast labels on his game. This much is known about the O’Connell transfer: the 6-foot-4 Gregory has an uncanny ability to dunk. He has, according to Coolidge Coach Vaughn Jones, a gift for timing blocked shots that very few high school players have.

“Mostly, everyone just sees me as an athlete,” Gregory said.

But what isn’t known outside the District’s basketball circles is Gregory’s hunger to bust out of his highlight-reel reputation. Few know that he is shooting 500 jumpers every day, putting shot after shot up before and after the Colts practice each evening. On game nights, he has also worked relentlessly to not just find a variety of ways to score, but to also take out the garbage for Coolidge (9-3), and his rebounding numbers are among the best in the city.

Gregory has already posted six double-doubles in 12 games, his latest coming Saturday in a 77-68 win over Miller (Va.) on Saturday. The senior forward scored 19 points, added 16 rebounds, and hit seven of eight free throws.

“I just kept the intensity going and just kept my teammates in the game. I tried to share the ball,” Gregory said. “I was just picking up loose rebounds to get to the line a lot.”


Jamall Gregory (5), shown playing for O’Connell last January, has had an instant impact at Coolidge this winter. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Coolidge is still molding an identity in the wake of losing a strong cast of seniors from last season, including UMBC recruit David Kadiri and point guard Omar Roberts. But expectations have remained the same for the defending DCSAA champs, because the Colts have a senior guard to lead the backcourt in Sam Briggs (12.8 points per game), a physical forward in 6-foot-4 Doug Farley (13 ppg) and a rising star in sophomore Justin Route, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Miller. And the scheduling certainly hasn’t softened, as Jones slated games against Baltimore power City, Archbishop Malloy (N.Y.) and Gonzaga in a week span early in the season.

The addition of Gregory has certainly helped the Colts weather that gauntlet and he’s performed well against quality opponents. He opened the season with three straight double-doubles, including 17 points and 11 boards in a win over Cesar Chavez. He had 12 points and five boards in a win over Gonzaga, and his latest showing against Miller might’ve been his best yet.

The top plays from the weekend of high school basketball in the D.C. area. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

“Basketball-wise I think I can showcase my talent and show that I can do more than just dunk, and I’m being put in a position to be a leader on the team,” Gregory said.

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