The first time that the two Oakland Mills captains met each other for the first time last summer, neither one was impressed with the other.
“The first day I saw him, it was summer league, he didn’t look like he was going to be that good,” Dent said of Long, a transfer student and Loyola Maryland recruit who spent his first three years of high school at Baltimore’s Mount St. Joseph.
Dent, a 6-foot-6 forward, was coming off a disappointing first season on varsity at Oakland Mills, a year in which the Scorpions won just eight games and Dent averaged just over five points per game. Despite his status as the Scorpions’ returning big man, Dent said it was Long who first broke the summer-league ice between the two seniors.
“That first day we stepped on the court with each other, he said, ‘you good?’ and I’m like ‘yeah.’ ‘You think you can play?’ and I was like ‘yeah,’ and he said ‘all right, then we’re good together,’ and since then we’ve been like LeBron [James] and [Dwyane] Wade, for real, or LeBron and [Chris] Bosh, whatever you want to call it.”
While comparisons to the Miami Heat could be considered a bit hyperbolic, the pair has come together to anchor a dominant front court for the undefeated Scorpions (13-0, 11-0 Howard). Long is the team’s top scorer and rebounder, averaging a double-double with 13.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Dent isn’t far behind, scoring 11.2 points per game while pulling down almost nine rebounds per game.
Scorpions Coach Jon Browne said Dent has “improved 100 percent from last year,” pointing to his improved ability to hit mid-range jump shots and use his length to disrupt shooters on the defensive end as facets of the senior’s game that have improved this season. Browne said that Dent’s ascendance as a top contributor, along with Long’s arrival, has allowed the Oakland Mills front line to “really cause havoc for other teams from a defensive standpoint.”
“Coach Browne calls us the twin towers,” Dent said. “Me and him together, I don’t know what it is, but our minds think alike when we’re on the court. He knows where I’m going to be. He knows I can’t catch when the ball is at my knee, that I want the ball up top. He wants the ball up top. If he’s open, I’ll give him the ball. If I’m open, I’ll shoot it. Same with him.”