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Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
8/02/2006 11:15:00 AM

The Battle For D.C.

Chris Wright
Point guard Chris Wright is one of a trio of 5-star recruits in the D.C. area for the Class of 2007.
Greg Nelson/SI

Monday's blog launch looked at some of the new heavies (including Purdue!) on the national recruiting scene. Today, the focus is much narrower: the changing dynamics of the Washington D.C. talent market.

In last November's college basketball preview issue, SI ran a four-page spread entitled "Hoops Hotbeds: SI's Survey of America's Basketball Boomtowns," with Washington D.C. as one of the featured hotbeds, albeit in a secondary position behind New York. The story listed "Pipelines" for each hotbed; for D.C., it read, "Maryland and Georgetown have divided the city's spoils in recent years, but North Carolina's Roy Williams has muscled in to sign freshman Marcus Ginyard and '06 freshman Tywon Lawson."

While NYC has since stagnated to a point where it has no 4- or 5-star recruits, the D.C. area has blown up: Its Class of 2007 crop includes three 5-star prospects -- PF Michael Beasley (headed to Kansas State), SG Austin Freeman (Georgetown) and PG Chris Wright (uncommitted) -- and four with 4-star grades -- PF Jeff Allen (Virginia Tech), center Anthony McClain (uncommitted), SG Nolan Smith (Duke) and PF Julian Vaughn (uncommitted). From that group, all but Wright and Allen play for the D.C. Assault, an adidas outfit that may be the East Coast's top AAU team.

So how does an outsider program without the cachet of a Duke or UNC infiltrate a market in which there's intense competition from the local powers? It's easier than you think: Just go out and add someone to your staff who has connections to the Assault. That's what Kansas State did in April; new coach Bob Huggins shrewdly hired Dalonte Hill, an ex-Assault coach and Charlotte assistant. Hill is a father figure to Beasley, the No. 5 overall player in the '07 class … and lo and behold, Beasley backed out of his verbal commitment to Charlotte and said this summer that he intends to play at K-State instead.

The Wildcats, however, are not the only ones crashing the D.C. party. Next up? Pittsburgh, which must forge a new recruiting identity after losing ace assistant Barry "Slice" Rohrssen -- a Sopranos-like character -- to the top job at Manhattan. Rohrssen is a Brooklyn guy who dominated NYC recruiting and stocked the Panthers' with talents such as Chris Taft, Carl Krauser, Levance Fields and Ronald Ramon. Pitt's '05-06 roster had six players from New York as opposed to one (Sam Young) from the D.C. area.

A nice story in Tuesday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describes how coach Jamie Dixon is banking on newly hired director of basketball operations David Cox to help make Pitt a player in D.C. recruiting. Cox, to put it lightly, is "hooked up" inside the Beltway after serving as an assistant with the Assault for seven years. Coincidentally, with Cox in the fold in July, the Panthers landed Darnell Dodson, a 6-foot-6, three-star wing player for the Assault. They're also now in the hunt for Vaughn and McClain and are said to be considered by Beasley as a possible back-up option should he change his mind about K-State. Cox also gives Dixon more pull in his battle against Huggins for Herb Pope, an ultra-talented power forward from Alquippa, Pa., who formerly played for the Assault.

Oh -- and Chris Wright, the lone, five-star D.C. prospect who hasn't made his college decision? He doesn't play for the Assault, but that doesn't mean he's unfamiliar with Cox. "Actually," Wright told Scout.com this summer, "[Cox] was the assistant principal at my school [St. John's College High]. We had a very good relationship before he went to the University of Pittsburgh.”

Wright has two Big East schools on his short list: Georgetown … and Pittsburgh. Is anyone surprised?

posted by Luke Winn | View comments (24) |


Posted: 12:35 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
what about syracuse? pretty sure they have locked up donte green(top 5), billy edelin(top 50), and um carmelo anthony (the best recruit to play college in 10 years)
Posted: 12:53 PM   by Anonymous Luke Winn
Aren't Green and Anthony Baltimore guys? For the purposes of this thing I was keeping DC and Baltimore separate. B'more has enough talent (Gay, Anthony, Dixon, Boone, etc.) to be considered a hotbed on its own.
Posted: 12:15 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Note to out of town schools - stay out of DC,it is George Washington territory. GW is the hometown team in the District of COLONIALS!
Posted: 5:06 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
DC area has been a basketball hotbed for years, but lately (since about 2000), the DC ASSAULT AAU program has been landing EVERY great player. Don't know if its related to money or sponsorships, but I do know that its a monopoly on top tier talent that reeks of bribery.
Posted: 12:07 PM   by Blogger Greg
I live in D.C. and everyone here has the feeling that Austin Freeman from powerhouse Dematha is going to be Georgetown's next great PG. JT III is really doing a great job recruiting local talent.
Posted: 12:22 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Why is no one considering playing @ Maryland?
Posted: 3:51 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Regarding why no one is considering playing at Maryland. It's simple. Their academic entry point is too difficult for many kids to get into the program. It's not Gary Williams!
Posted: 5:12 PM   by Anonymous Chris
Oh please, Maryland has been after all these guys. They went after Freeman hard, and Gary wouldn't have wasted his time if he had doubts that Freeman would get into Maryland.
Posted: 2:50 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Georgetown is back, and in full demand, JT~III has the Hoyas back to being respected "nationally". Maryland is right now on the decline, hopefully the Terps can get back playing with the big boys again. Perhaps Garry Williams need to change is approach in recruiting?!
Posted: 12:00 PM   by Blogger JB
DC has been one of the hottest areas for basketball for years, and Team Assault has been the trailblazers. Dermarrr Johnson, Keith Bogans, DeLonte West, etc... Even old heads like Lawrence Moten and Sherman Douglas had all learned the game in the Chocolate City. It is long overdue that we start getting love nationally. Watch out for my nephew this year, Tre Kelley, the best (and most underrated--Taureen Green, you have got to be kidding me) PG in the SEC tear it up this year. Luke, you need to start showing him and the USC Gamecocks some love, too!
Posted: 1:39 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
JT III has done an UNBELIEVABLE job at G'town, and in a very short time, I might add. There should be noticable improvement this year with the additions of Ewing Jr., and Doc Rivers kid, not to mention a solid recruiting class. Like the student body shirts say, "many have forgotten, we'll make them remember."

Posted: 5:02 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Tre Kelly is solid, but he is not a star. I like his game and I think he can have a good year but nothing miraculous. I think Pitt is on the verge of building something great. It is a very short distance from the DC area with already an abundance of kids who attend the school from there. I think it can be a great fit and I really like what Dixon is building.
Posted: 5:04 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How is George Washington the hometown team of the Washington area? Maryland and Georgetown have won national titles and in last year's tournament the Colonials barely made it out of the first round. When people around the nation mention DC basketball they think of College Park and Georgetown, not Foggy Bottom. The Atlantic-10 is an obvious step below the Big East and ACC.
Posted: 10:58 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Regarding all this nonesense about the University of Maryland being too hard a school to get into. Let us not forget Georgetown is one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges in the world. John Thompson is doing a wonderful job of providing kids with an oppurtunity to play in a big time conference and recieve a world renowned education WHICH THEY ACTUALLY WILL RECIEVE. Gary Williams just is not getting the job done.
Posted: 11:26 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Regarding why no one is considering playing at Maryland. It's simple. Their academic entry point is too difficult for many kids to get into the program. It's not Gary Williams!"

HAHAHA. In the real world, yes, Maryland has increased their academic standards significantly but come on! That does NOT apply for sports. My high school quarterback was supposedly the best QB to come out of the state of MD ever but he was absolutely dumb as rocks. where did he end up? Maryland. Are you really arguing that these guys go to Georgetown and UNC but not Maryland because of their grades? I dont think so.
Posted: 5:50 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I think that there are some great battles in D.C., but there have been some even better battles I believe in the Chicago Region, there is a plethora of talent in this area. It should be spoken of alos as a battle ground
Posted: 7:16 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Oh shoot, maybe UConn should take these guys.
Posted: 10:58 AM   by Blogger jlandy20
D.C. has always been a hotbed for hoops ever since the days of Grant Hill and Stevie Francis. I am very excited to see this new crop of teenagers play: such as Chris Wright (St. John's High), Mike Beasley, Nolan Smith and Tywon Lawson (Oak Hill)
Posted: 12:31 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Does anyone notice how Gary Williams can't seem to land any of this hometown talent? Gary can't recruit a cold! He is out of control on the sidelines, sweating through his suits. Who would want to play for a arrogant, ego maniac like Gary? It is pathetic Gary can't bring in any local talent. Marylad would take everyone of these local players in a heartbeat.
Posted: 12:35 PM   by Blogger Abe
Gary Williams has recruited every one of these local kids, but none of them seem to want to play for Gary. It is a shame Gary can't recruit well. Maybe kids see him completely out of control on the sidelines during games? Maybe kids see Gary constantly yelling at players on the bench? Who knows, but we do know that no big time, local talent will go to Maryland anymore.
Posted: 1:32 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I'm not from the DC area but that area had a lot of talent for years now. The New York hype machine will have you thinking that New York has a lot of talent. I would put DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Texas, California ahead of New York.
Posted: 6:38 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I am unsure what you are talking about as far as NY dropping off in the talent market this year there arfe three 4(four) star athletes in Kelly, Mitchell, and Sosa. Most analysts out there agree that coming outta NY is much different than coming from anywhere else, the competition is whole different level. Also in your article, since you were considering athletes who were originally from Washington D.C., you failed to mention Jerome Dyson.
Posted: 8:09 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
dc has been a bball hotbed for years. in 99', 3 mcdonalds all americans were from the area (bogans, forte, and dermarr johnson)....g. mason is also a prime example of how good the dc area is. alot of those guys were from dc and weren't regarded as the best in the area....austin freeman is considered more of a 2. but yea, he's going to be nasty a g'town bc he played in a big time hs program and will be able to handle the the hoyas offense bc of that experience.
Posted: 10:49 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous

Maryland is a crap school compared to G-Town or even GW