Ballou senior Donte Thomas likely headed to junior college

By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 15, 2010

Ballou standout senior guard Donte Thomas ended his high school career by scoring 24 points -- his average this season -- in the Knights' 80-70 loss to DeMatha in the Abe Pollin City Title Game at Verizon Center on Sunday.

Thomas's next stop, however, remains in doubt. Knights Coach Jenkins Dormu has long acknowledged that Thomas will not be able to meet NCAA initial eligibility standards. As a result, only a handful of schools have shown recruiting interest, knowing Thomas is at least a year away from playing.

Whether Thomas attends a prep school or a junior college is still uncertain.

"Right now [prep school] is our plan," Dormu said, adding that he is speaking with "two or three" potential prep schools.

Thomas, meantime, said he was likely headed to a junior college, adding that he has not yet taken the SAT.

Back on the bench

Even though he wasn't in full uniform, Ballou senior guard Eugene Watkins sat on the Knights' bench for the first time since taking an elbow to his left eye in a Feb. 19 victory over Montrose Christian.

On that play, Watkins suffered a fractured orbital bone underneath his left eye that required surgery that, Watkins said, included securing a titanium plate to the bone.

Ballou players and coaches dedicated their season to Watkins after the incident. Thomas wore Watkins's uniform No. 1 in subsequent games, though Watkins wore his jersey on the bench Sunday.

"It means everything to me to see what they did for me," Watkins said. "This is my team."

Another honor

Thanks to D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, the annual matchups between the boys' and girls' champions of the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association and Washington Catholic Athletic Conference are known as the Abe Pollin City Title Games.

Gray enacted emergency legislation last December and has since ratified a bill naming the games in honor of the late owner of the Washington Wizards, who more than 12 years ago built Verizon Center in the Chinatown area of the District.

"Abe Pollin means so much to this city," Gray said. "He opened the door for these young people to come here. Even when it was difficult, he helped make it work. There's no one more fitting for this honor than him."

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