Perhaps it was Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference game between Virginia and North Carolina State that made the point best.

Suddenly the contest between two top-20 teams began to look like a pick-up game on a Washington playground.

Virginia's center (and player of the game) was 6-foot-9 Steve Castellan of St. Anselm's High School. TV announcer Bones McKinney, the ancient ACC saga, said he thought Castellan might be the best center in the conference.

At forward, the Cavs had Mike Owens of Einstein and in the backcourt, scoring 16 points, Dave Koesters of West Springfield.

If anything, N.C. State was even more top-heavy in D.C.-area talent with its leading scorer Hawkeye Whitnew (De Matha) with a 19-point average; freshman Kenny Matthews (Dunbar) and guard Craig Davis of Peary.

No statistics are kept, but it seems that more Washington-area players are cast in important roles for more quality teams in more parts of the country than ever before.

Local eight of Washington's Division I colleges were at .500 or better as of Sunday.

Georgetown, the best of the lot, has five Washington-area players in its first eight men. Sometimes, Tom Scates, John Duren, Craig Shelton, Al Dutch and Mike Riley take the court together. Those five Washingtonians don't disgrace GU's No. 12 ranking.

Maryland has started a D.C. guard line of Jo Jo Hunter and Billy Bryant.George Washington's Les (High Rise) Anderson is a four-year starter while Bucky Roman has become an important figure.

Navy, on the way to perhaps its best season in 15 years, is led by top-scoring Kevin Sinnett. Howard's strength in the middle is 6-feet-10 Dorian Dent and in the backcourt with Gerald (Tubb) Gaskins and Louis Wilson.

Just a half-dozen years ago, Washington college basketball featured few local players. And almost every program was at a significantly lower level than now with the increase in homegrown players on the roster.

The way Washington players have spread out to leave their mark on almost every major conference is remarkable.

No. 5 ranked Notre Dame's leading scorer is Duck William of Mackin and Tracy Jackson of Paint Branch is a freshman who already is being groomed for Irish glory. Notre Dame has had a D.C. pipeline from Bob Whitmore to Adrian Dantley to Austin Carr.

St. Bonaventure, which lost to Notre Dame by a point a beat Georgetown, is led by its All-American candidate Greg Sanders, who barely caused a ripple in his days at St. Anthony's. "Washington's loaded with so many good players," said Sanders, "that nobody even noticed me until I got to college."

The ACC appears to be a Washington feeder system with Maryland, Virginia and N.C. State all D.C. dependent.At Wake Forest, Justin Ellis of St. John's plays behind starting center Larry Harrison from Baltimore.

Name your section of the nation - New England, Big 10, Pac Eight, Deep South, run-and-gun small colleges - Washington players are everywhere.

Keith Herron leads Villanova, a near-top 20 teams, with a 21-point average. His younger brother Riggie and Steve Lincoln also are on the squad.

Such underclassmen as Carvin Jefferson (Penn State), Lamont Reid (Oral Roberts), Mark Pitchford (Stanford), Bill Lewis (Washington), Booty Neal (Kansas) and Bobby Boyd (William & Mary) already are starters or valuable sixth men for their teams.

Wisconsin has the towering Gregory brothers - Big Stretch (6-9) James and Li'l Stretch (6-8); Claude, East Carolina has - Herb Gray from Bowie and Herb Krusen from Northwood. Eastern Kentucky takes the floor with Mike Oliver, Tyrone Jones and Lovell (Slim) Joiner, all from the city champion Eastern team of 1975.

And next year, another Eastern player, James (Turkey) Tillman will wear an EKU uniform after tranferring from Maryland.

Pitt's floor general is Pete Strickland, while Vern Allen and Garry Jordan control the boards for Niagara. Both Strickland and Allen are from the '75 DeMatha team that lost to Eastern in the city finals.

Boston University has Curtis Vanlandingham while Tennessee expects James Ratiff to be a future star.

From Anthony (Cricket) Williams (Jacksonville) to Toney (T-Boone) Ellis (Colorado), a Washington background and a good nickname seem like an insurance policy for a starting job.

Harry Nickens of South Carolina State is trying to lead the MEAC in scoring for the second straight season.

Below Division I, Barry Frazier of the University of the District of Columbia is leading the nation in scoring with a 35-point average.

(Swervin') Irvin Johnson of Scranton has a leg up on Division III All-America. Gwynne Park grad Mark (The General) Clark, is playing a major role in Winston-Salem's (13-0) bid to go unbeaten while fellow '77 all-Met Garcia Hopkins displays his dunk shot at Morgan State.

And the best may yet to be. Washington's basketball men have been a brand name for years. But now Washington's young women are trying to steal part of the show.

Ginger Rouse (Robinson), two time Washington Post Player of the Year, is starting for North Carolina State and made several key baskets to lead the Wolfpack's upset over the No. 1-ranked Flying Queens of Wayland Baptist this month. Betsy Bailey, who waged several shootouts with Rouse when she attended Marshall, is the leading scorer for the Maryland women who recently whipped nationally ranked UCLA and Kansas.

By the end of the season it may be academic who is named All-America. There may be an even harder question: Who's all-Washington?