As Chinanu Onuaku stepped forward to accept his MVP trophy after Riverdale Baptist’s 71-66 win against Clinton Christian in Monday’s Maryland Private Schools championship, a shout of exhortation came from the baseline bleachers.
“Way to go, big man!” Louisville associate head coach Kevin Keatts said, a wide smile covering his face following the future Cardinal’s 13-point, 12-rebound performance.
Onuaku was one of a handful of Division I recruits to take the floor in Monday’s final, again showcasing the immense talent within the D.C. metropolitan area and providing an intriguing final matchup for the first annual Maryland Private Schools tournament.
Here’s a rundown of what colleges can expect to get from Riverdale Baptist and Clinton Christian’s many standouts:
C Chinanu Onuaku, Riverdale Baptist, Sr. (Lousville signee)
Though he made just one field goal and struggled with foul trouble in the first half, the long-armed post player again showed how his impact isn’t limited to just the offensive end. Along with grabbing 12 rebounds and altering a number of shots, Onuaku calmly sank seven of his final eight free throws to keep Riverdale in command when Clinton Christian resorted to fouling during the final two minutes.
Keatts expressed his excitement of Onuaku’s addition, lauding his ability to block shots, run the floor and spark transition plays with his outlet ability. The 6-10 Onuaku has made great strides since last season, elevating his on-court leadership while improving a shooting touch and post moves to complement his already-strong defensive prowess.
G Jon Davis, Clinton Christian, Sr. (DePaul commit)
Last season, an area coach told me he thought Davis was the top player in the Capital Beltway Athletic Association. At the time, Davis was averaging 13.9 points while struggling through an injury-plagued junior season at National Christian, so the claim left me a bit puzzled. After transferring to Clinton Christian to play for his trainer, Chris Cole, Davis has lived up to the hype, averaging 17.4 points to earn league MVP honors and lead the Eagles to the tournament title.
Blessed with an explosive first step, good body control and a solid outside shot, Davis is tough for opponents to slow down. The 6-foot-3 guard is a steal for DePaul, which could use his offensive firepower next year in the Big East.
F Alex Long, Riverdale Baptist, Sr. (Uncommitted)
With twin towers Onuaku and Taron Oliver strapped with foul trouble in Monday’s championship, it was Long who stepped up his play to carry the Crusaders in the second quarter. His stroke isn’t the prettiest but his game is well-rounded, making him a strong weapon on Riverdale’s deep roster. Long can get into the lane and finishes well around the rim with floaters and strong layups. It’ll be interesting to see which smaller Division I or Division II school picks up on Long’s versatile talent.
G Byron Hawkins, Clinton Christian, Sr. (Towson commit)
It’s no secret that Hawkins can shoot, witnessed by his 60-plus three-pointers on the season. But the senior transfer has seen his point guard skills develop over the year, which has been especially impressive on a Clinton Christian team full of entirely new faces. Hawkins made a few pinpoint passes off the dribble Monday, handled the ball well and finished several tough buckets in traffic.
G Dequan Abrom, Riverdale Baptist, Jr. (Uncommitted)
While Onuaku understandably gets most of the attention, it’s Abrom who serves as the Crusaders top offensive weapon. His soft shooting touch allows him to score in bunches from the outside and his quickness makes him effective off the dribble. The junior hit a pair of big threes in the fourth period to help keep Riverdale in the lead and the Clinton Christian defense guessing against the Crusaders’ sound inside-outside attack.
F Leroy Butts, Clinton Christian, Jr. (Rutgers commit)
The lefty can hurt teams in a number of ways with his long arms for rebounding and ability to face up in the post for the open jumper. Butts’ wide shoulders make it clear that he has room to fill out his frame, which I’m sure excites Rutgers Coach Eddie Jordan even more about the 6-foot-7 forward. When he fouled out early in the fourth quarter of Monday’s game, his absence was felt against the bigger Crusaders, who no longer had to worry about Butts stretching the defense.
F Taron Oliver, Riverdale Baptist, Jr. (Uncommitted)
In his first year since transferring from Montrose Christian, the 6-foot-9 forward has made strides throughout the season. Prior to Monday’s final, Oliver had recorded a 23-point and 16-rebound performance against Spalding and 16 points and seven rebounds versus St. Mary’s Ryken to help pace the Crusaders. As he continues to polish his skills and with Onuaku’s graduation, Oliver has the potential to turn the heads of recruiters as a senior. He holds an offer from South Florida.
F Allante Holston, Clinton Christian, Sr. (Uncommitted)
After overcoming injuries that had hampered him earlier in the year, Holston has picked up his game in the last few weeks. He’s efficient as a shotmaker and crashes the board, making for many second-chance opportunities and easy buckets. His mid-range game and strong finishing ability provided Clinton Christian with another mismatch alongside Butts and allowed the Eagles to push the tempo. Holston holds an offer from Towson.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 3
National ranking for Mikayla Venson among point guards despite the Yorktown senior playing just three high school girls’ basketball games after suffering a concussion as a freshman. Check out Tariq Lee’s feature on the journey of the country’s top player that you’ve never heard of.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Check out the top plays from the week that was in basketball
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PHOTO GALLERY OF THE DAY
Check out Mark Gail’s pictures from Monday’s tightly contested Maryland Private Schools championship between No. 9 Riverdale Baptist and No. 5 Clinton Christian.
-See how The Post Top 20 boys’ and girls’ basketball rankings shake out this week.
–The SMAC will be represented well in this week’s Maryland girls’ basketball state semifinals.
-Hardened by a year spent in the Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A ranks, Central is poised to continue its playoff run in this week’s Maryland 1A state semifinals.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
Baseball, Softball, Lacrosse — take your pick
With the snow (mostly) melted, basketball playoffs on a one-day break and area temperatures forecasted for the high 60s, Tuesday is a great chance to get into the spirit of spring sports.