It seems the well of talent at DeMatha's basketball gymnasium never runs dry. With 6-foot-10 all-America Danny Ferry graduating this spring, Coach Morgan Wootten already has a replacement in the wings -- 6-9 freshman Jerrod Mustaf.
Tuesday, Mustaf scored six points as a reserve in the fourth period to help the Stags defeat 14th-ranked St. John's, 59-56. With the victory, No. 1 DeMatha improved to 14-0; including last season, it has won 32 straight.
Only one freshman -- Adrian Dantley -- has started for a Wootten-coached DeMatha team, and no freshman since Ferry has made the varsity. Can Mustaf, just the sixth player in 25 years to make the varsity as a freshman, be mentioned in the same breath with Dantley or Ferry?
"There's not too many Adrian Dantleys around," Wootten said. "But Jerrod is very fluid, and he has a good outside shot for someone his size. He's been in every game, and he performed very well against our two toughest opponents, Dobbins Tech and St. John's."
Mustaf usually plays eight to 10 minutes per game. He averages four points and four rebounds and shoots better than 50 percent from the field.
"We're going to sneak in some genuine playing time for him soon," Wootten said. "After all, Danny's graduating, and we need someone to take his place. He's not a clumsy 6-9. He's an excellent athlete who runs real well. He's very quick off the floor and a natural shot blocker. These are things that you can't coach."
Mustaf played basketball last year at St. Mark's School in Hyattsville. "I set a goal last year to come to DeMatha and make the basketball team, and I achieved it," he said.
Mustaf matches up with Ferry in practice. Ferry has a couple of inches and a couple of years on Mustaf, but the freshman from Greenbelt can take care of himself.
"It's real physical in practice, but I think I hold my own. Really, it helps both of us because Danny doesn't always play against players as tall as me. Danny teaches me a lot in practice, and that will help me in the future."
Mustaf is content to be in such good company. "This is the best place for me academically, and I think I can excel here in basketball. I'm happy with my performance this year, and I hope I can do better."
What of his future at DeMatha?
"He can be great," Wootten said. "He certainly has all the tools and the potential . . . . But, of course, like any freshman, he's got a lot to learn."