High School

10 DMV high school players who boosted their profile in girls, boys DCSAA playoffs

10 DMV high school players who boosted their profile in girls, boys DCSAA playoffs

Exposure means everything to student-athletes. Earning a chance to play on the big stage under bright lights can help players catch the eye of college coaches and help increase interest or even gain a scholarship offer.

The District of Columbia State Athletic Association basketball championships provides just that platform. 

“This tournament takes talented student-athletes from all across the District and places them on the same court,” DCSAA executive director Clark Ray said. “We hope to continue to provide an environment that is conducive to them garnering positive exposure experiences.”

There are plenty of examples in recent years. In 2017, Luka Garza led Maret to the finals and came close to upsetting Gonzaga had it not been for a prime performance by Chris Lykes. The two of them now star at Iowa and the University of Miami, respectfully.

In 2018, Ayinde Hikim helped Wilson upset St. John’s and that performance paved additional recruiting avenues for himself. In 2019, Jason Gibson opened eyes and earned offers with his performance leading Sidwell to a championship. Meanwhile, Azzi Fudd used the DCSAAs as a final springboard for her national player of the year campaign.

Here’s a look at 10 underclassmen who could do the same this year.

GIRLS

5. Delaney Thomas, 23’ (St. John’s)
Delaney Thomas provides an inside presence for the Cadets that can’t be matched by many opponents. With size, length and athleticism, she serves as a prime secondary defender and rim protector. On offense, she adequately finishes around the rim and is a willing passer. Her game translates well to the college level.

In the Cadets’ semifinal contest with Maret, Thomas filled the box score with six rebounds, points and assists and four blocked shots.

4. Drew Jordan, 23’ (Maret)
Drew Jordon impressed with her poise and scoring prowess, in Maret’s semifinal loss to St. John’s. 

The freshman scored 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting while grabbing four rebounds against one of the top teams in the country.

Jordon is a silky-smooth wing with athletic burst and enough handle to create her own shot. She will surely be a force to be reckoned with in the DCSAA for years to come and is a sure-fire D1 prospect.

3. Cameron Wilkes, 21’ (Dunbar)
Cameron Wilkes played fearlessly in the Tide’s semifinal loss to Sidwell. The junior guard attacked the rim relentlessly. She set the tone with her defensive pressure and she almost single-handedly kept Dunbar in the game with her offense. 

Wilkes finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. Paired with sophomore Zyaire Hariston, Dunbar has a backcourt that will lead myriad college coaches to check out their games.

2. Jadyn Donovan, 23’ (Sidwell)
Friday night, a star was born and her name is Jadyn Donovan. 

The 6-0 freshmen has the versatility to guard all five positions. Sidwell can run their offense through her as she is as effective operating from the post as she is on the wing. Donovan has a nice handle, is a willing passer and can finish with either hand at the rim. She’s a game changer on both ends off the floor.

In 30 minutes, she had 18 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and two blocks.

1.    Kiki Rice, 22’ (Sidwell)
As a freshman, Kiki Rice was a better athlete than a majority of her opponents. As a sophomore, she’s a better basketball player. 

In her second season, the game has slowed down for Rice. Her dominance comes from the head down, as opposed to the opposite direction. The 5-10 point guard uses her size and quickness to get into the lane, creating shots for her teammates and herself. 

Although she can score at will, her playmaking ability may be the best part of her game. Rice is a pin-point passer, routinely delivering the ball into the hands of her teammates on-time and on-target. In Friday’s semifinal she finished with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists.


BOYS

5. Judah Mintz, 22’ (Gonzaga)

The 6-4 sophomore guard is already drawing national attention. Mintz presently holds five offers and is regionally the No. 1-ranked player in his class. 

His combination of length and skill place him in a position to have an instant impact as a combo guard at the next level. 

Mintz struggled to find his rhythm in Gonzaga’s semifinal win over Coolidge, but an offensive explosion is always one shot away for a student-athlete of his caliber.

4. Stephaun Walker, 22’ (Coolidge)

Walker is a 6-7 forward who is just beginning to realize how good he can be. At 225 pounds, he is in the process of filling out his frame, which allows him to be equally effective when attacking from the wing or the interior.

Walker held his own when playing against Michigan commit Terrance Williams, finishing with six points and six rebounds. 

3. Devin Dinkins, 22’ (Gonzaga)

Dinkins is a sharp-shooting point guard with infinite range. He plays with confidence and a level of poise rare for a sophomore. 

In Friday’s semifinal, he nailed 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions that helped spark an Eagles’ run that ultimately put the game away. In addition to his scoring, Dinkins added four rebounds and four assists as Gonzaga made Sunday’s final

2. Eric Morgan Jr., 21’ (Wilson)

Morgan was Wilson’s leading scorer during the regular season and has been critical to the Tiger’s title run. 

A clutch performer, Morgan is unafraid of the moment. He routinely takes and makes big shots.

In Friday’s semifinal victory over Carroll, Morgan scored 15 points and was perfect from the free-throw line.

1. Darren Buchanan Jr., 22’ (Wilson)

Darren Buchanan Jr. may very well be the most versatile players in the DMV. The DCIAA player of the year can guard all five positions, is an adequate rebounder and scores when his team needs him to. 

The Tigers run their offense through Buchanan . He can attack from the post or either elbow. Perhaps what’s most impressive is his willingness to sacrifice his own numbers to keep his teammates involved. 

In Friday’s semifinal, he had 13 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. The Tigers will need a similar performance to knock off Gonzaga in the championship game.

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Former Dunbar and Maryland star Keith Booth sues Baltimore City Schools, per a report

Former Dunbar and Maryland star Keith Booth sues Baltimore City Schools, per a report

University of Maryland great, and former Dunbar basketball coach, Keith Booth has sued the Baltimore school system for defamation the Baltimore Sun reported Friday afternoon. The coach was fired in February for an "inappropriate interaction" between two Dunbar students who were under his supervision at the time.

Booth is suing the city school board, schools CEO Sonja Santelises, Dunbar principal Yetunde Reeves, and Jerome Jones, the director of labor relations and negotiations for the school system.

According to the lawsuit, Booth's attorney alleges that the letter released to the Dunbar community, regarding the incident at the time, implied Booth was at fault. 

“Coach Booth will forever live with the stain of Defendants’ false and defamatory letter and denial of his constitutional rights to clear his name," the lawsuit states.

Booth, a McDonald's All-American during his time at Dunbar, returned to coach the boy's basketball program in May of 2019.

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Quince Orchard senior quarterback Brian Plummer ready for starring role

Quince Orchard senior quarterback Brian Plummer ready for starring role

Brian Plummer has spent the last three years playing “best supporting actor” in the full-length feature film that is Quince Orchard football. In the 2020 season though, the senior quarterback anticipates being cast in the leading role. 

QO has developed into a primetime program. With their rabid fan base, deep playoff runs, and roster chalked full of star-studded recruits, the Cougars draw so many amateur videographers at home games, one could mistake the Cougar Dome for a movie set.

 In two years as the Cougars starting quarterback, Brian Plummer has a record of 25-2 while throwing for nearly 3,000 yards to go with his 30+ touchdowns. He’s led QO to a state championship, earned an offer from the University of Maryland, amongst others and at 6-3, 220 lbs seems typecast for the part of “QB1”. Yet despite his accomplishments, Plummer, to this point, has flown under the radar. 

To this point, Plummer has played beside major stars, and though he says he never minded, the spotlight was not always big enough to shine on all contributors. In 2019, his primary responsibility was handing the ball off to Kent State-commit Marquez Cooper. Cooper re-wrote the Cougars record book for a running back, and in doing so, garnered so much attention that the media often categorized QO performances as more of a one-man show than team ensemble.  

After playing JV his freshmen year, In 2018, Plummer was saddled with the unenviable task of replacing Quince Orchard Legend, Doc Bonner—a player who wrote the script on what it means to be the Cougars’ quarterback. There was doubt as to whether the sophomore could live up to the billing.

“Doc accomplished a lot in his time at Quince Orchard,” QO head coach John Kelley said. "He was a 3-year starter and an All-Met performer who helped us win a lot of games. When you lose a guy like that who accounts for a lot of your offense, you’re going to have concerns about what’s going to come next.”

Bonner led QO to two Maryland 4A state championship games, falling to Wise in both. Though he didn’t win a title, he helped lay the foundation that would catapult the Cougars into the category of perennial contenders. According to Plummer, Bonner helped build the program both on and off the field. More than a teammate, he served as an example.

“I learned a lot from Doc. When I was a freshman, he was my role model. He’d always tell me the right things to do and how to approach the game,” Plummer said. “It was crazy trying to replace Doc. He was a superstar and my sophomore year, I’d hear everyone saying, 'QO is gonna suck this year'. My own teammates were posting on Snapchat, 'we need a quarterback.' It was crazy."

Despite the initial lack of confidence, the Cougars didn’t miss a beat with Plummer at the helm, finishing the regular season with a record of 9-1. 

“We knew he had a very good offensive line, along with a good run game that could take some pressure off of him," Kelley said. "You could see in each practice—in each game, he was getting better week-by-week.”

Riding their potent rushing attack, QO steam-rolled through the playoffs, including a convincing 31-6 victory over arch-nemesis Wise in the semi’s en route to capturing the 2018 Maryland 4A crown. In victory, Plummer could only think of the student-athlete he replaced. The young man whose shadow he was beginning to step from behind.

“I felt real good winning states, but I was pretty mad Doc wasn’t able to win a ring himself,” Plummer said. “I wish Doc could’ve been on the team because I saw him give it all he had for 3 years and fall short. I just wish we could’ve gotten one for him.”

In 2019, the Cougars fell short in their bid to repeat, losing to rival Northwest in the state semifinals. According to Plummer, egos and in-fighting led to the seemingly dominant team's downfall.  In 2020, Plummer and company will attempt to drive QO back to the championship game and in order to do so, he will need to take the lead.

“Talking with my coaches, we’re going to need a lot from me in order for us to be successful this year,” Plummer said. “I'm [definitley] working as hard as I ever have. I’m doing everything the right way. Doing everything better, because I know the team is going to need me to be at my best.”

Plummer has worked a lot on his physique during the offseason; his added mass makes him a legitimate threat as a runner as well as passer. The Cougars offense could look very different from years past.

 “We are supremely confident in his ability to be the bell cow for our offense in 2020,” Kelley said. “With his ability to throw and run the ball, I think it will make us tough to defend."

The stage is set. For the first time, this is unquestionably Brian Plummer’s offense and the senior QB is finally ready to step into the light.

“I feel like I have a lot to prove,” Plummer said,  “I haven’t shown everything I am— I haven’t done all I can do, so I’m working as hard as I can so I can show my real skill this season and lead us to another championship.”

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