Theodore Roosevelt junior Jibreel Faulkner (22) attempts to block a a shot against Montrose Christian foward Ishmail Wainright in December. Faulkner has generated recruiting interest as a key reserve for the Rough Riders this winter.
(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Theodore Roosevelt has received flashes of brilliance from junior reserve Jibreel Faulkner this season, and Coach Rob Nickens has come to rely on the 6-foot-7 swingman’s versatility off the bench. The learning curve has been steep for Faulkner. In mid-January he delivered his best performance of the season in a win over Coolidge, a 20-point outburst bookended by a couple of highlight-worthy dunks. A few days later, in a win over North Carolina power West Charlotte, Faulkner was quiet – he sat out for a long stretch in the second half after becoming involved in a scuffle between the two teams.

Faulkner is still searching for consistency, but there’s no denying his talent. He has bought into Nicken’s system of “pick and pop” outside shooting, and his mid-range game has improved. He’s only one of a few players on Roosevelt’s roster that double-down as a true post player, which make his services to the Rough Riders, and to potential college recruiters, valuable. Faulkner can redirect shots, and to Nickens, it’s “his motor” on both ends of the floor that makes him a desirable prospect.

“He really wants to be good, and that’s something you can’t teach kids,” Nickens said. “He’s a real tough matchup.”

Faulkner has generated plenty of buzz in recruiting circles this winter. According to Nickens, the most interested suitors have been Seton Hall, which is also targeting Faulkner’s teammate Johnnie Shuler, as well as Siena, UNC Wilmington and Quinnipiac. Faulkner expects not only for the list to grow this spring – but also for an offer to materialize shortly.

“It’s been great, and it’s been big,” Faulkner said of receiving interest. “It’s been an outbreak for me, an outbreak year, a successful year.”

Adding weight is one of Faulkner’s priorities this spring – he’s playing at about 200 pounds right now, and envisions his frame expanding to about 225, he said. Faulkner and Shuler figure to be one of the city’s top tandem’s next year should both still be at Roosevelt – but Faulkner’s role at the moment remains unchanged as Roosevelt (23-2) prepares for the DCIAA tournament. The Rough Riders will host Spingarn (10-13) this evening in the first round, and Faulkner said there is a remote opportunity he will be inserted into the starting lineup at some point during the tournament.

“I have been looked at off the bench a lot this year,” Faulkner said. “What matters is when you’re in the game.”

In Wednesday playoff action:

Gaithersburg’s margin of victory in the last three Maryland 4A West region playoff wins over Whitman. These two teams, which will meet for the region final Friday night, last met in a final in 2009, with Gaithersburg winning 53-41. The Trojans have defeated the Vikings in the second round the past two seasons en route to 4A state title wins in each.


— Due to a potential scheduling conflict, DeMatha Coach Mike Jones is expected to make a decision today on whether his team will accept an invitation to the Maryland State Private School championship. Brandon Parker takes a look at the rest of the field:

— Citing parental pressure, McNamara Coach Gary Lee steps down.

— She’s just a freshman, but Loudoun County volleyball standout Taylor Borup has already committed to North Carolina:

Gwynn Park boys at Oakland Mills, 7 p.m.

No. 9 Oakland Mills (22-0) is hopeful for a deep playoff run, and will open up the postseason tonight at home in a Maryland 2A South quarterfinal against Gwynn Park (13-10), which has won five straight.

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