September 13, 2017 at 11:55 AM
Once EJ Jarvis spotted the open lane down the left side of the court, the 6-foot-8 forward took a few choppy steps before breaking into long, thundering strides.
It took him just seven steps to get from the three-point line and into paint on the opposite end of the floor. Once there, he caught a bounce pass, rose well above the rim and dropped the ball through it with eye-pleasing ease. Then he started to laugh.
“I was just surprised I got up and down the court like that, honestly,” said Jarvis in between games at the DMV Elite 80 in Bowie on Saturday. “I only started working out again like five days ago. Certain parts of my game feel rusty today, but it’s really good to be back playing.”
In March, Jarvis sprained his left foot. In April, while trying to recover for the start of the AAU circuit, he sprained his left ankle. That kept him in and out of workouts and games all summer, and the 2019 prospect from Maret School largely missed the chance to play in gyms pack with college coaches. Jarvis played for Team Takeover’s 16U team in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League. The Takeover coaches recently tallied up players’ minutes from the spring and summer, and 16U coach Doug Martin said Jarvis played roughly two and a half of the team’s 45 games.
But offers still came because of Jarvis’ strong sophomore season, intriguing size and the potential of him becoming a strong two-way player at the next level. He received scholarship offers from Virginia Tech and Columbia in May. That list expanded to George Washington, Yale and Pennsylvania in August, and Jarvis said Saturday that Virginia and Rice have shown a lot of interest in him. Saturday was the first day that colleges could start recruiting again, and they will be scattered across the country visiting high school workouts throughout the next two months. Virginia is expected to see Jarvis work out at Maret on Wednesday.
And now that he is finally back to playing regularly, Jarvis is set on showing he is worthy of the offers and attention.
“I think I am in a position where I need to live up to that this coming season,” Jarvis said. “It was a bit weird to get offers while hurt, but I also know those coaches saw me during my sophomore year and liked my game. I know what I am capable of and now I just need to start showing it again.”
At the DMV Elite 80, a showcase event attended by college coaches, dozens of D.C.-area prospects were split into a handful of teams. There was a lot of isolation and quick shots from the perimeter, a style of play that doesn’t always embrace the big man. But Jarvis, who said he used the event to ease back up to full speed, was fine with taking a secondary role in his team’s offense. He set a lot of ball screens, controlled the defensive glass, used his length to defend the paint and, when the opportunity arose, flashed his offensive potential with a mid-range jumper or keen understanding of off-ball spacing.
Jarvis has seen a lot of other high school big men expand their games to the perimeter, but also stop working in the paint as a result. At the high school, college and professional levels, basketball is trending toward more “small ball” play and asking big men to develop perimeter skills and be able to space the floor with mid-range and, ideally, perimeter shooting. Jarvis plans to provide that type of skill set — he is currently working on his mid-range jumper and then plans to stretch it back to the three-point line — but also thinks he could stand out by continuing to polish his post moves and interior defense.
“I tell him that you can be that type of big man who stretches the floor, but let’s also be great inside,” said Maret Coach Chuck Driesell, who has been a head coach and assistant coach at the Division I level. “I also tell him to keep focusing on being a great rebounder. People don’t always realize how much a great rebounder can change a program. If you’re a college coach and have a great rebounder, it is a huge lift and allows you to do so many things.”
Last season, Jarvis averaged 9.6 points for a Maret team that finished 26-5 and as the runner up in the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference (to Sidwell Friends) and in the DC State Athletic Association tournament (to Gonzaga). But the Frogs were led by 6-foot-11 center Luka Garza, who averaged a team-high 24.5 points per game and is now a freshman at Iowa. Jarvis will have a much-elevated role for Maret and also move up to Team Takeover’s 17U EYBL team and the biggest stages AAU basketball has to offer.
On both fronts, it is perfect timing for a player who feels he has a lot to prove.
“I don’t want to say it was a wasted year because he was injured, it definitely wasn’t,” Martin said. “But he played in the shadow of Luka last year, the spring and summer could have been a coming-out party for him, but then he gets hurt. I’m sure this high school season he’s going to have a chip on his shoulder and I think, moving forward, he’s going to have a great impact on Maret and Takeover.”
» Georgetown Prep senior Mezie Offurum has verbally committed to George Washington, Georgetown Prep Coach Ryan Eskow told The Post on Monday. Mezie, a 6-foot-6 wing, received a scholarship offer from George Washington in August, and also got offers from Rhode Island, Bucknell and Hofstra in the last few months. He is the second 2018 prospect to verbally commit to George Washington in the last few weeks, as Shandon Brown, a 5-foot-10 point guard from Massachusetts, did so at the end of August.
» With Offurum coming off the recruiting board Monday, here is a list of the local 2018 players who have verbally committed to Division I schools (in alphabetical order): O’Connell guard Matt Becht (Mount St. Mary’s), Georgetown Prep point guard Jared Bynum (Saint Joseph’s), Gonzaga guard Myles Dread (Penn State), Gonzaga point guard Prentiss Hubb (Notre Dame), Paul VI guard Miles Latimer (Stony Brook), Loudoun Valley guard Jordan Miller (George Mason), Bullis point guard Vado Morse (Mount St. Mary’s), Georgetown Prep wing Mezie Offurum (George Washington), Paul VI guard Brandon Slater (Villanova), St. Mary’s Ryken guard Wynston Tabbs (Boston College), Riverdale Baptist point guard Donovann Toatley (Tennessee-Chattanooga)
» And here are the top local seniors who have yet to make a college decision (in alphabetical order): Matthew Balanc (guard, Springbrook), Saddiq Bey (forward, Sidwell Friends), Kiyon Boyd (guard, Massanutten Military Academy), Zyan Collins (guard, Freedom-South Riding), Jaden Faulkner (point guard, Eleanor Roosevelt), Deson Flood (wing, Good Counsel), Jermaine Harris (forward, Rock Creek Christian), Ayinde Hikim (point guard, Wilson), Curtis Holland III (guard, Southern), Xavier Johnson (guard, O’Connell), Christian Jones (guard, Annapolis), Darren Lucas-White (guard, Fairmont Heights), Quentin Millora-Brown (forward, South County), Richard Njoku (center, St. John’s), Ike Nweke (forward, Georgetown Prep), Daniel Oladapo (wing, Bladensburg), L.J. Owens (point guard, Severn School), Zach Pfaffenberger (forward, Episcopal), Tre Wood (point guard, St. John’s)
» St. John’s guard Casey Morsell was offered by Virginia during an unofficial visit in Charlottesville on Saturday, St. John’s Coach Pat Behan told The Post. Morsell, a 2019 prospect who plays for Team Takeover, was offered by Oklahoma State in late August and picked up offers from Saint Joseph’s, Cincinnati, DePaul, Temple, South Florida, Rhode Island and VCU over the summer. In the spring, he was offered by Virginia Tech, Penn State, George Mason, George Washington and Richmond. His two most recent offers firmly establish him as a high-major recruit.
» DeMatha guard Justin Moore was offered by Louisville on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. Moore, who missed most of his sophomore season last year after tearing his ACL in early January, already had offers from Notre Dame, Xavier, Wake Forest, Towson and Old Dominion.
» Marshall girls basketball center Clara Ford has verbally committed to Boston College, she announced in a tweet Sunday. The 6-foot-4 senior, who only started playing organized basketball a few years ago, also had offers from Temple, Cornell, James Madison, Hofstra and Gardner-Webb.
» Severn School senior point guard L.J. Owens announced his final seven on Twitter on Friday. Owens, a 6-foot-3 senior who played for the D.C. Blue Devils on the AAU circuit this past spring and summer, is now choosing between Towson, Saint Joseph’s, William & Mary, Delaware, Lehigh, Quinnipiac and UMBC.
» St. John’s senior point guard Tre Wood went on an official visit to the University of Massachusetts this weekend, he told The Post on Sunday. Wood has scheduled an official visit to George Mason for next weekend and expects to take one to Towson after that.
» Southern senior guard Curtis Holland III set three official visits, which were first reported by Marcus Helton of DMV Elite last week. Holland has scheduled trips to Radford (Sept. 22-24), High Point (Sept. 28-30) and IUPUI (Oct. 6-8). He, like all seniors, has a maximum five official visits he can take.
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