Taron Oliver Jr.’s shoe size is the same as his age. At 15, Oliver is a hidden gem of the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association, a 6-foot-8 freshman center on Bell’s varsity team in a league that doesn’t often feature kids this tall, especially this young.
And Oliver is likely not done growing. He has added an inch on average every year and, according to his doctors, he could grow as tall as 6-foot-10 or 6-foot-11. No colleges have offered Oliver a scholarship yet but second-year Bell Coach Aaron Moody says it’s only a matter of time.
“As far as college, he’s a major D-I prospect,” said Moody, a former Bullis assistant coach. “He’s in the ninth grade and already has a lot of skills.”
In 12 games so far this season, Oliver, who is just learning to tap his potential, has made an impact, leading the team in scoring as Bell has posted a 9-4 record. Last season, the Griffins finished 3-15.
“I’m starting to realize it this year, that I can score whenever I want to,” Oliver said. “. . . People told me that they saw flashes from time to time last year.”
Entering high school, Oliver had options. He had interest from Bishop Ireton, Carroll, DeMatha, St. John’s and St. Mary’s Ryken. Oliver was partially home-schooled as an eighth grader but attended classes three times a week at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Southeast, where he played basketball.
But Oliver’s parents wanted him to get onto the court immediately at a place where academics were a good fit for their son. They also were already close with one of Bell’s assistant coaches.
“At the end of the day, Bell was just a better fit and the opportunity to play as a freshman on varsity was too much to turn down,” said Taron Oliver Sr., who is 6-feet-5 and whose wife is 6-feet tall.
Playing on the AAU circuit with Team Takeover has already pushed Oliver Jr. and will help expose him to college recruiters, Oliver Sr. said.
And as Oliver Jr. develops, one of the most obvious questions will be how long does a player with such potential stay in the DCIAA, a league that has often lost top players to area’s private schools? So far Oliver Jr. says he has enjoyed his time at the Northwest school.
“I love it here,” he said.