It has been a summer of exposure for Jernavis Draughn. This winter, though, the spotlight will find him a few feet farther from the basket as the Potomac High School forward tries to increase both his range and, at the same time, his marketability.
Draughn, a steady inside scorer drawing keen interest from Division I schools, is going to play more on the wing, the likely college position for the 6-foot-5 senior. He figures he isn't going to grow much taller, so his days inside could be numbered.
"I've heard some crazy heights, but I think I'll probably stop at about 6-6," said Draughn, who began his high school career as a point guard at Osbourn Park.
Draughn has towered over many of his peers this summer, earning the most valuable player award at the Keystone Camp at Albright College in Reading, Pa. Potomac Coach Kendall Hayes thinks Draughn could become even more valuable to the Panthers--if he sometimes refrains from doing what he does best.
"He gets to the rim so well that that's about all he does," Hayes said. "Sometimes I'd rather see him not go to the basket and shoot a few jump shots because once the season gets started, teams are going to back off you if all you're doing is driving. If you show them that you can shoot the shot as well--which he can--he'll be very, very difficult to guard."
Draughn, who scored a team-high 16 points Sunday in the Metro South Senior All-Star Game, is more assured than he was during a fine junior season in which he averaged 14.9 points.
"It's a confidence thing with him," Hayes said. "I think every kid who steps up to his senior year knows there's no one they're looking up to. Once you have that, I think it instills confidence in your game."
One confidence booster was the Keystone Camp, an event once attended by Kobe Bryant and fellow NBA player Richard Hamilton, the Wizards' top draft pick this year. Draughn had not envisioned winning the MVP award.
"I was very surprised," he said. "There were guys from New York, Philadelphia, Delaware, everywhere."
Another Potomac senior, post player Cameron Kirby, also is drawing Division I interest. Some of that head-turning came Sunday in front of the half-dozen or so college recruiters on hand at the all-star game.
Kirby displayed his inside scoring and rebounding abilities and also took a charge, a rarity in the ragged offensive showcase.
"Four years ago I wouldn't have projected he'd be as good as he is now," Hayes said.
The Metro South regular season concludes Tuesday. Centreville, Potomac, Woodbridge I and Osbourn Park have qualified for the playoffs, set for 6 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at Potomac. The league championship is at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at Potomac.
In the Senior All-Star Game, the Gray squad beat the Blue, 88-82, behind 16 points from Draughn and double-figure nights from Potomac teammates Anthony Jones and Mark Cunningham. Woodbridge senior Maurice Watkins was the Gray MVP. Centreville's Steve Harvin was the Blue MVP.
The Blue won the Underclass All-Star Game, 65-55. Potomac's Ian Somers (team-high 12 points) was the Blue MVP, and Centreville's Will Downey was the Gray MVP. Seton's Pat VanderWoude scored 10 points for the Gray.
Up and Coming
Hayes and former Gar-Field girls basketball coach Fred Milbert say the near future of Prince William basketball appears quite bright.
Milbert, who resigned last week to take a job with the county school system, said he was highly impressed by the performances at his recent summer camp.
"There's a ton of young talent in the county that needs to be coached and nurtured," Milbert said. "The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at camp were the most talented we ever had."
As for the boys, Hayes believes the Cardinal District is the toughest it has been in eight years. Potomac, Woodbridge and Gar-Field appear formidable as ever, and many expect Hylton to challenge that group. Osbourn Park and Osbourn seem improved, and Stonewall seems to have rebounded from heavy graduation.
"It's brutal," Hayes said. "The district champion is not going to be undefeated, I can guarantee you that."
Milbert was the third of the seven Cardinal District girls basketball coaches to step down since last season. Osbourn's Renee Leake and Osbourn Park's Doug Poppe were the others.
North Stafford boys coach Eric Neff recently resigned after three seasons to become an assistant principal at Manassas Park.