Reebok All-American Basketball

Taylor, Robinson, McGruder Stand Out in Reebok All-American Game

By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 19, 2009

The play started when Thomas Robinson, the muscular 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward who once played at Eastern High and then Riverdale Baptist, weaved through traffic to beat full-court pressure. He then passed to Rodney McGruder, who was All-Met as a junior at Carroll before -- like Robinson -- leaving the Washington area for his senior year of high school.

As McGruder dribbled toward the basket, he passed to Dante Taylor, the New York native who moved so that he could attend National Christian and earned All-Met Player of the Year honors this past season.

The 6-9 Taylor, a Pittsburgh recruit, then scored while being fouled, helping Team Finish hold off Team Create, 134-131, in the Reebok All-American Game last night before 1,500 at American University's Bender Arena.

Taylor finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. McGruder, who played this past season at Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla., and has signed with Kansas State, had 24 points and seven rebounds to share team most valuable player honors with Taylor. Robinson, who attended Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., and has signed with Kansas, had 14 points.

"Those guys wanted to come back and show well," said National Christian Coach Trevor Brown, who coached Team Finish. "They enjoyed themselves coming back and playing in front of the home crowd."

Indeed, McGruder said that he and Robinson discussed the opportunity to play one final game in the District and that he had a message for Robinson before they meet next season in the Big 12 Conference.

"We finally got to play in front of the people who wanted to see us play and didn't want us to leave," McGruder said. "I [also] told Thomas, 'We play you next year so you can't be doing all that against us.' You know, Kansas is our rival."

Team Create also had a pair of former local players. One-time Oxon Hill standout Maurice Creek, an Indiana recruit, scored 18 points and Terrell Vinson, an All-Met at Montrose Christian as a junior last season who has yet to make his college choice, had 17 points. Creek and Wake Forest recruit Ari Stewart shared their team most valuable player award.

Taylor also had some added motivation, feeling that he was snubbed after scoring 15 points and grabbing six rebounds in the McDonald's All-American Game three weeks ago.

"He thought that in the McDonald's game he had a chance to win MVP and some basketball politics kicked in," Brown said. "He wanted to play well tonight."

In the preliminary game featuring a local team against players from across the nation, All-Mets Jamal Olasewere of Springbrook and Talib Zanna of Bishop McNamara earned team most valuable players as Team Finish beat Team Create, 102-96. Zanna, a 6-9 center headed for Pittsburgh, had 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Olasewere tallied 13 points and six rebounds.

Olasewere, who led the Blue Devils to an undefeated season and their second consecutive Maryland 4A title, has yet to make his college choice though he said that interest has picked up since the end of the season. George Washington, Kent State, North Carolina-Greensboro and Rider recently inquired though none of that group has yet to offer a scholarship, Olasewere said.

"Probably by mid-May I'll have a decision," Olasewere said.

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