The Potomac High School boys basketball players will begin their season not by playing a game but by watching one. After practice Monday, the team will travel to Williamsburg to attend the Virginia Tech-William and Mary game, featuring Potomac alumni Rolan Roberts and Sherman Rivers.

Roberts, a 6-foot-6 junior forward at Virginia Tech, led the Hokies last year in blocks, steals and rebounds and was named third-team all-Atlantic 10. Freshman Rivers is a point guard who has played significant minutes in the Tribe's two exhibition games.

Potomac Coach Kendall Hayes, who does not recall two former Potomac players going head-to-head in a Division I game, hopes the trip will inspire his current players, as well as expose them to the Division I college basketball atmosphere.

"They might think: They had to go through the same practices I have and have done the same drills I'm doing and look where it's taken them," Hayes said. "I think a lot of good can come from that. You need to have role models, players other than the ones you watch on TNT on Tuesday and Friday nights before the season."

Roberts, the 1996 All-Met Player of the Year, averaged 14.1 points last year and set a Tech sophomore record with 57 blocks.

In two exhibition games, Rivers totaled 21 points, 13 assists, nine rebounds, three steals and just five turnovers.

Kirby Gets Elon Scholarship

Potomac forward Cameron Kirby has accepted a full scholarship to Elon College, an accomplishment few in the Panthers camp projected for the 6-6 senior.

"I'd be the first to tell you I never thought he'd be a scholarship player when he walked in here," Hayes said. "He showed up as a freshman as raw as he could be. He just worked hard, and it obviously paid off handsomely."

Kirby averaged 4.3 points last season, with a season-high 12 points in a loss to Gar-Field. So far in his high school career, Kirby has been best known for his rebounding, willingness to run the floor and knack for drawing charges.

He had 13 rebounds in the Metro South summer basketball league championship win over Centreville.

Waiting for Their Players

Installing a new system can be a challenge for any first-year basketball coach. But the new boys coaches at Hylton (Dan Kearney), North Stafford (Tripp Burton) and Brentsville (Doug Poppe) face another obstacle: They do not have all their players. All three of those schools' football teams are still involved with the playoffs. Hylton is without six players, including Kenny Irby, D.J. Walton and Ahmad Brooks, three of the team's top four returning scorers.

"I'm happy as I can be that the football guys are having a successful year, but you kind of want everyone to be on the same page," Kearney said. "I guess one advantage may be that you get to spend more personal time with the kids who might be counted on as role players. They can learn the system and then have the ability to relay it."

Tar Heels Influence

Stonewall Jackson boys coach Dave Huckestein was among a group of coaches who visited the University of North Carolina earlier this month to observe Tar Heels practices and to watch UNC game tapes from last season in the team's film room.

"It's a valuable experience to see what their practice schedule is like and how they conduct practices," Huckestein said.

The Raiders tore at least one page out of the UNC playbook. Huckestein this week installed a play for 6-7 sophomore center Jaaron Greene that he learned in Chapel Hill. "They do a lot of things for their big men to get the ball inside," Huckestein said. "One way or another, I want to take advantage of the size I have this year."

One of the coaches Huckestein traveled with was former Woodbridge and Stonewall assistant Don McCool, who is an assistant at Centreville this season. McCool, who makes the Chapel Hill trip annually, is mentioned in the new book by former UNC coach Dean Smith, "A Coach's Life."

"I certainly enjoyed having many high school coaches attend our practices at Carolina," Smith wrote. "It was exciting to me when they saw something in our sessions that they could use successfully in their own programs. . . . I enjoyed coach Don McCool and his group of fellow coaches coming each year from northern Virginia. They came with great enthusiasm. They used what they learned, along with many of their own ideas, and won many games despite not having Division I college basketball prospects."

A Holiday Classic

The Gar-Field girls are hosting the Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament, an eight-team, three-day event set for Dec. 28 to 30.

Game times each day are 2 p.m., 4, 6 and 8.

Anacostia, Annandale, Fairfax, Gloucester, Midlothian, T.C. Williams and University City High School from Philadelphia are the entrants, along with the host team.

"It's a good field for the first year, and we expect to grow each year," said tournament director Fred Milbert, who stepped down as Indians coach after last season, his 15th at the school.

CAPTION: Hylton's Kenny Irby (32) won't be joining the basketball team until football season ends. Meanwhile, ex-Potomac star Sherman Rivers (5) is playing a great deal at William and Mary, and Panthers senior Cameron Kirby is set to play at Elon.