As a high school senior, Jamal Olasewere was a latecomer on the recruiting scene. He blossomed late, with things really heating up when Georgetown Coach John Thompson III ventured to the Maryland 4A semifinals to watch the Walbrook’s Roscoe Smith but came away impressed by Olasewere.

Things worked out well for former Springbrook All-Met Jamal Olasewere, who on Wednesday night led Long Island back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1997. (Bill Kostroun/AP)

Now a sophomore, Olasewere scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, leading the Blackbirds to an 85-82 victory over Robert Morris in Wednesday’s Northeast Conference championship game.

“When it was all said and done, he went to the right place,” Crowell said, noting that another former Springbrook All-Met, guard C.J. Garner, transferred from South Alabama to Long Island and had 15 points Wednesday. “Every kid wants somebody bigger to offer him, but he is where he should be. He had Mount St. Mary’s and Long Island. Then Georgetown came into the talking stage, so did Xavier.”

Crowell watched Wednesday’s game from home and it felt like he was back on the sidelines as he cheered for his former players. Springbrook had a disappointing finish to this season, losing in the Maryland 4A West Region final to Magruder, ending its run of three consecutive state titles.

”Oh my god, is that fantastic?” he said. “I was yelling at Jamal, just like I did when he was in high school. That’s the happiest I’ve been since Saturday.”