The texts typically start rolling in around early May, players inquiring about the availability of DeMatha’s gymnasium for a workout or pick-up game. Of course, Stags Coach Mike Jones is happy to oblige, opening the space a few times a week as a who’s who of local basketball products streams through the doors.
But for as many familiar and talented faces Jones sees during the typical flow of summer sessions, even he was a bit surprised when a certain NBA All-Star strolled into the gym on Saturday.
Flanked by three friends and just a couple weeks removed from the end of his team’s NBA playoff run, Oklahoma City forward and Montrose Christian alum Kevin Durant came ready for what would be an intense set of contests.
“I didn’t know he was coming, but for somebody like me, it’s nice to get to watch talent like that play in our gym. I just have to turn on the lights and roll out the ball,” Jones said. “Of course, when a guy like Kevin comes, everyone is excited. They all played hard, talked some trash and it was a high-level pickup game.”
Jones, who declined to comment on the specifics of the games’ outcome, said that once Durant arrived, they locked the doors to avoid potential autograph seekers, leaving Jones, another coach and the involved players to focus on the contests at hand.
On most days, Notre Dame senior forward and DeMatha alum Jerian Grant is the catalyst for these games and workouts, taking advantage of the depth of DMV talent that’s returned home for the summer following their college or pro season. AAU tournaments during the holiday weekend kept Grant, who went to see his younger brother, Jaelin, and local high school players from getting a chance to play against Durant. But plenty of notable names took to the court Saturday, including McNamara and Syracuse alum Arinze Onuaku, who invited Durant, and former Georgetown player Austin Freeman.
For Grant, it’s a revival of his “Breakfast Club” days at DeMatha, when he, Victor Oladipo and others would get in the gym every morning at 7 a.m. to hone their skills. These early workouts have already re-commenced this spring, as Jones said Grant hasn’t missed a session yet.
“Some days there are 12 guys, some days there are four guys but Jerian is always there,” Jones said. “When I pull up at 6:58, he’s there sitting in his car waiting for me to open the gym. Some other guys have seen me post about the workouts on Twitter, and they will tweet or text to see if they can play. Even though they maybe didn’t go to DeMatha, after those guys from rival schools graduate, I don’t hate them as much, so I’ll let them come work out too.”
Jones said the offseason workouts and pick-up games have really picked up the last two years, with the likes of Najee Hibbert, Chris Braswell, Marcus Thornton, Tyler Thornton, Kendall Marshall, Jerami Grant, Mikael Hopkins, Isaiah Tate and others making appearances.
“To me, it’s special because it’s something unique to DeMatha and speaks to all of the talent that’s come from and still is in this area,” Jones said.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 6
Individual titles won by South County’s Felecia Majors at Friday’s Northern Region outdoor track and field championships. The Tennessee recruit took first in the triple jump, 100-meter dash, pole vault, 400, 200 and long jump to lead the Stallions to the team crown.
-Top-ranked Northern set new Maryland public school records for consecutive state titles (six) and wins (76) with its 3-0 victory against Eastern Technical in Saturday’s 3A softball championship. [Photo gallery here]
-The Bowie girls’ repeated while the Northwest boys’ took first place at the Maryland 4A track and field championships on Saturday.
-Scott Mitchell capped an impressive senior campaign by throwing a two-hit shutout to lead South River to a 6-0 victory against Catonsville and its first state crown in the Maryland 4A baseball final on Friday. [Photos here]
-La Plata tallied six errors, dooming its chances during a 3-2 loss to Bel Air in the Maryland 3A baseball championship on Saturday.
-In Maryland tennis, Reservoir’s Biyik Akinshemoyin won the boys’ state singles title while Atholton freshman Irene Lu captured the girls’ crown.
-A week after winning the Stotesbury Regatta, Madison’s girls’ first eight were crowned national champions after finishing first at Saturday’s Scholastic Rowing Association of America championship regatta in New Jersey.
-Ian Cooke’s late goal capped a dramatic 7-6, triple-overtime win for Madison against Chantilly in Friday’s Virginia AAA Northern Section boys’ lacrosse final. [Video here]
-The Madison girls’ team moved one step closer to winning its second state crown in three years by beating Langley, 19-10, in Friday’s Virginia AAA Northern Section girls’ lacrosse championship.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
No. 3 Lake Braddock at No. 1 Madison
Defending state champ Lake Braddock faces a big obstacle in Monday’s quarterfinal round of the Virginia AAA Northern Region baseball tournament when it travels to face top-ranked Madison, winners of 22 straight.