It was only the first few minutes of a summer league basketball game -- a tournament final, but still a fairly meaningless contest in the grand scheme of things -- when Robert Diggs rose from just outside the three-point line and made a jump shot. The next possession, Diggs made another three-pointer.
Later, midway through the second half, Diggs started from the left corner, dribbled twice as he drove along the baseline and gently laid in a nifty reverse layup. Those are the big-time moves Gwynn Park's talented senior has worked hard to improve, and they have raised his stock considerably in the eyes of college recruiters.
With three months until high school basketball practice begins, the recruiting of Diggs is heating up. George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga joined assistants from George Washington, Clemson, Nebraska and College of Charleston in the gym last week for the Steve Francis/We R One Summer League title game; Suitland defeated Diggs and Gwynn Park, 45-42. Gwynn Park Coach Steve Matthews said plenty of other colleges are joining in the pursuit of the 6-foot-8 Diggs, including Virginia and Miami.
"I think there are going to be more major schools coming into the picture in the month to come," Matthews said, "because he has played so well recently."
Diggs finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds against Suitland, routinely shooting jump shots and driving to the basket -- two areas he has worked hard to improve. He already was a strong rebounder capable of getting putbacks, but Gwynn Park plans to use Diggs at small forward on offense this winter, creating potential matchup problems.
"When I drive, I'm taller than everyone else, so I can use that to my advantage," Diggs said. "And I'm quick for my height."
Said Suitland Coach Tyrone Massenburg: "You need to have a tall and athletic person to guard him, and not that many people have those. I look for him to dominate."
Part of Diggs's improvement comes from working out with his young brother Kevin, who also plays for Gwynn Park. He also has benefited from continuing to work in the weight room, where Gwynn Park football coach Danny Hayes has pushed him.
"Nobody is pushing me around on the blocks any more," Diggs said. "I can get position better."
'A Quality Win' for C.H. Flowers
After defeating Hayfield and Gonzaga to advance to the semifinals of the Ban the Brick League at St. Albans this past weekend, C.H. Flowers Coach George McClure was pleased with his players' progress.
Alan Simmons, a senior forward who averaged 4.3 points in his first season as a starter last year, scored 29 against Hayfield. Forward Francis Gunn, who led the Jaguars in scoring at 11.4 points per game last season, continued his steady play.
"To me, any win in the summer, you take it with a grain of salt because everybody is playing for December through February," McClure said. "But still, against a quality program like Gonzaga, it's still a quality win.
"It's the summer, and you just like to see improvement from some players. Heck, everybody is optimistic right now. We're no different than anyone else. We've got eight kids coming back, we've got a good core coming back. But in the league we play [the Prince George's 4A], your optimism is guarded. It's just such a tough league."
Richardson to Try
To Walk On at Loyola
After getting a qualifying score on the SAT to be eligible to play as a freshman, former Suitland forward Charles Richardson, who averaged 19 points per game last season, plans to try to walk on at Loyola, where former Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos will be entering his first season as a head coach.
"A lot of people shied away from his size," Massenburg said of the 6-5 Richardson. "Jimmy knows him pretty well. He knows he can play, guard bigger guys."
Massenburg said Bobby Maze, who led Suitland in scoring last season at 20.3 points per game, will be attending Philadelphia Lutheran for a year of prep school, where he will join National Christian's Chris Matthews.