For those who follow local basketball recruiting, Wednesday was a head-spinning day that also contained a few blasts from the past.
When was the last time Stu Vetter sent a player to Maryland?
When was the last time mighty DeMatha sent a player to Georgetown?
Yes, things are changing.
Montrose Christian guard Greivis Vasquez, one of the Washington area's top seniors, on Wednesday signed with Maryland, giving the Terrapins the type of player who has thrived under Coach Gary Williams. Only hoops junkies know that Exree Hipp in 1992 -- from Harker Prep, a school that has not existed for years -- was the last Vetter-coached player to go to Maryland.
At about the same time that Vasquez was signing his letter-of-intent, over in Hyattsville, DeMatha junior Austin Freeman announced his decision to play for Georgetown, ending an icy 30-plus-years during which no DeMatha player had gone to Georgetown on scholarship. Not since John Thompson became the Hoyas' coach in 1972 had DeMatha sent a player to the school.
"When I made my decision, they started telling me I'm one of the first to go in a long time," Freeman said. "I wasn't really aware of that until they told me."
So Freeman wasn't up on his D.C. hoops history and rivalries, unconcerned about the long-running feud between Hall of Fame coaches Thompson and Morgan Wootten, who retired at DeMatha prior to the 2002 season. Of course, Freeman and his classmates missed that feud.
"Obviously we're going to get a lot of questions about the whole Wootten-Thompson thing," DeMatha Coach Mike Jones said. "I like to avoid trying to make it about that. Austin and his family think it's the best fit for him."
What the Freemans and others have noticed is the enthusiasm Thompson's son, John III, and his staff take into their recruiting work. Also noticed around the Beltway and elsewhere is the energy brought by two of Maryland's newest assistants, Rob Moxley and Keith Booth.
Georgetown "is very aggressive and active, I think they're doing a great job getting out," Jones said. "That's not to say Maryland is not. I've seen more of the Maryland coaching staff in the last six months than I have in the last three years combined. Maryland is working extremely hard. [Georgetown] just happened to get this one. He really struggled with the decision."
Also important about Freeman's decision is that rarely has Georgetown landed the region's elite prospects in recent years. It was not until late in his senior year that Northwestern's Jeff Green began to be regarded more highly. The case can be made that 2000 All-Met Player of the Year Mike Sweetney, an Oxon Hill graduate now in the NBA) fits this bill. Regardless, few can argue that most of the time the top players took a pass on the Hoyas.
Similarly, Maryland has not been able to get Vetter's top players. In the time since Hipp chose Maryland, Vetter has sent a scholarship player to every pre-expansion ACC school except Wake Forest.
Vetter and Jones will tell anyone they don't get in the way of their players when it comes time to choose a college. But don't be mistaken. The coaches wield great influence and it is rare that one of their players will make a decision with which their coach strongly disagrees.
Perhaps one offshoot of Freeman and Vasquez picking local schools is it could up the ante for the teams to resume their dormant series. Since playing at the Capital Center in 1993, the teams have played just once, with Maryland winning in the 2001 NCAA tournament. Given Maryland's place as the dominant team in the region, there has been little for the Terrapins to gain by resuming the series. Even their series with George Washington is a one-way street, with everything for Maryland to lose and nothing to gain each time the teams play.
But if the Terrapins' recruiting hold is threatened, perhaps that could drive the teams back to the same court. And that, says one local AAU coach, would provide dividends in recruiting.
"If Maryland and Georgetown played," Blue Devils Coach Rob Jackson said, "I think it would help more kids stay local."
Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs
Former DeMatha standout Jeff Allen, now attending Oak Hill Academy in southwestern Virginia, signed with Virginia Tech. There, the forward will reunite with DeMatha teammate Nigel Munson. . . .
Oak Hill teammate Tywon Lawson, a point guard who once attended Bishop McNamara, signed with North Carolina. . . .
Guard Jerome Dyson, who once attended Churchill and now is a senior at Proctor Academy in Andover, N.H., signed with Connecticut.