Among the many things Greg Whittington is late to establish is a reputation. As the 2011 All-Met Player of the Year rocketed from an unknown quantity, hidden in Howard County, to a Georgetown recruit the past few months, the rest of the hoops establishment is learning both the Oakland Mills star’s name and his game.
Sunday’s Capital Classic was a chance both for fans as well as peers to get an up-close look at what the 6-foot-9 small forward can do. In the Capital All-Stars’ 136-115 loss to the U.S. All-Stars at Show Place Arena, Whittington showed flashes of what makes him so alluring, but also what requires patience.
In 19 minutes, Whittington scored six points on 3-of-7 shooting, missed both his three-point attempts, had a steal and drew four fouls. He said he felt better about his performance in his other postseason all-star game, the Elite Showcase Basketball Classic, on March 20.
On Sunday, Whittington confidently sank a 16-foot jumper from the corner in the first half, and ran well in transition. Yet, when he was often matched up with Virginia Tech recruit Dorian Finney-Smith (16 points, nine rebounds), Whittington showed he has to adjust to playing agianst Big East-caliber competition.
These games “teach me what I’ve got to do — go hard,” Whittington said.
Others agree that will be Whittington’s toughest adjustment to the college game. He has been so superior to his opponents that they have seldom challenged him.
“It’s going to take a lot of work,” said DeMatha’s Mikael Hopkins, a fellow Georgetown recruit and Capital All-Stars teammate, who has played tougher opponents in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. “With his high school, he didn’t play against a lot of strong teams. There’s not going to be a lot of scrubs on the court.”
Capital All-Stars Coach O.J. Johnson, who played at Georgetown (2000-02), said he noticed after spending the week preparing for the game with Whittington that his learning curve hasn’t yet caught up to his talent level.
“He has the talent, but he needs the work ethic,” Johnson said. “Nobody’s ever pushed him in Howard County. That’s something that takes time to build.”
Whittington acknowledged that because he hasn’t been on fans’ collective radar for a couple of years that he is subject to a snap judgment — for better or worse — from these all-star games as their first impression of him.
“They shouldn’t judge me off of an all-star game,” Whittington said. “But if they do, I’ll take it as motivation.”
As far as the rest of the game went, the U.S. All-Stars scored 13 straight points midway through the first quarter to take control for good. Guard Jabarie Hinds, a West Virginia recruit from Mount Vernon, N.Y., was named the game’s MVP with 19 points. Guard Devin Coleman, who’s headed to Clemson, also had 19, including three three-pointers.
In the preliminary game, the Suburban team held off a furious District comeback for a 104-97 victory. The quintet of Malcolm Clark, Tyler Hubbard, Javon Moore, Ryan McNeill-Moses and Larry Savage, helped the District cut a 21-point deficit to four with two minutes to play, but couldn’t get closer.
Savage, from O’Connell, had a game-high 21 points for the District All-Stars. Cesar Chavez’s Clark added 16.