The DMV’s first taste of the new-look June high school evaluation period took place over the last two weeks with the DC Live event at Maret and two sessions of DMV Live at DeMatha.
Despite the exclusion of Maryland and Virginia public schools, the events were an overwhelming success, bringing scores of college coaches to the area to see prospects play with their high school teams.
Here’s a look at some of the standouts I saw from the past two high school live period weekends:
EARL TIMBERLAKE, DEMATHA (MD) 2020 GUARD
Timberlake has enjoyed a monster spring/summer and continued that through both DMV Live sessions, flashing the tools that have made him one of the biggest names in the area 2020 class.
At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Timberlake is a matchup nightmare on the perimeter, with a much improved jumper and the ability to muscle smaller defenders.
“I can pretty much do everything,” Timberlake said. “I can play position-less basketball and I can guard 1 through 5, I can play 1 through 5 and I can do anything my coaches need me to do. I can score, rebound and pass it.”
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams and Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse both offered Timberlake after DMV Live I, adding to a recent run that includes California, Miami and North Carolina State.
“It’s steadily going up,” he said of his recruitment. “I’ve been talking to a lot of the blue bloods lately, and I just want to keep working and getting better.”
PAUL SMITH, DEMATHA (MD) 2020 FORWARD
Smith was one of the biggest risers of the month, picking up offers from Buffalo, East Tennessee State, Fairfield, George Mason, Rhode Island and Towson after two impressive sessions at DMV Live. He previously held offers from Bryant, Delaware, George Washington, James Madison, Lehigh, Loyola, Old Dominion and Mount St. Mary’s, but nearly matched that total in a span of two weeks.
“Everything’s going well,” he said of his recruitment. “I’m open to everything, so I’m just taking my time so I can make a good decision.”
The 6-foot-8, 230 pound Smith has long had all the tools, but it seems like he’s finally putting it all together at the perfect time.
“[My strength is] Probably my motor,” he said. “I play really hard; if I’m not going to give you 10-plus points, I’m still going to give you all my effort.”
CHRIS GAMBLE, SIDWELL FRIENDS (DC) 2022 GUARD
Gamble saw time as a reserve during Sidwell’s DCSAA title season, but will be counted on to increase his production tremendously next year. The Quakers graduated every player who scored a point in last year’s championship win over Wilson, including DMVelite DC Player of the Year Jason Gibson (Towson) and title-game hero Dean Mazlish (Grinnell).
“I think I’m definitely excited,” Gamble said, “because last year I played a decent amount, but I think definitely getting to watch Jason and Dean and Jack [Lewis] and all of them play in kind of a backseat role, I think I’m definitely more acclimated to the whole thing.”
Gamble was one of just two players to score in double-figures with 12 points in an opening 41-37 win at DC Live, but made several critical plays down the stretch to help the Quakers preserve the victory.
The Sidwell offense will get a major boost with the addition of Richard Montgomery (Md.) transfer guard Ryan Cornish, who didn’t officially join the team until after DC Live. Still, players like Gamble and intriguing 6-foot-7 2022 forward George Perkins (12 points, 9 rebounds vs. Chavez) will be counted on to produce in order for the Quakers to continue their success.
“I think that’s the challenge of any coach, so I’m excited,” Sidwell coach Eric Singletary said. “They’re inexperienced but they’ve got some ability, and more than anything I’m trying to maintain our culture, which has been so strong for so many years now. I’m excited about coaching these guys and seeing who’s going to step up into those new roles. We’ll see who are going to be those next guys to keep Sidwell going in the direction we’ve been going on.”
XAVIER LIPSCOMB, ST. STEPHEN’S & ST. AGNES (VA) 2020 GUARD
Lipscomb made the two biggest plays in the final seconds of the Saints’ 69-67 win over DeMatha on June 29, hitting the go-ahead corner 3-pointer with just over seven seconds remaining and stripping the ball away on the ensuing possession to seal the win.
“Andre [Screen] got a tip on the offensive rebound and I tracked it down in the corner,” he said of his game-winning shot. “In our workouts we always work on ‘hand down, man down’ and his hand happened to be down, so I just let it fly and relied on my work and I knocked it down.”
The game continued a strong summer for the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Lipscomb, who chose not to play travel ball in order to focus on development.
“I just felt that I just needed to work on my game and improve upon some things that I saw I could get better at,” he said. “So me and my family decided to do that and work out.”
The decision hasn’t hurt him at all, as Lipscomb has picked up offers from Lafayette, Mount St. Mary's, Army West Point, Navy, Buffalo, Radford, Iona and East Tennessee State in the past month.
“Recruitment’s going good,” he said. “I have a couple of offers from low and mid-majors, but I’m still working each and every day to see what I can do.”
The Saints lost several key players from last year’s IAC and VISAA Division I championship squads, including DMVelite Northern Virginia Player Of The Year Charles Thompson (Towson). They still return plenty of talent and experience, though, which was evident in the win over DeMatha.
“We have eight seniors on the team; we’ve been battle-tested each and every year,” he said. “So now that we’re the oldest on the team that experience took over and we just executed down the stretch.”
JARED CROSS, ST. STEPHENS & ST. AGNES (VA) 2020 GUARD
Cross was stellar in the Saints’ win over DeMatha, scoring 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range.
“Me and my teammates, we’re not really ranked, but we believe we can go up against anybody in the area,” Cross said. “Events like this allow us to prove it, and we can go out there and just play.”
Cross picked up an offer from Towson head coach Pat Skerry after the game, and has since picked up Coppin State and Navy. He picked up his first two offers - Army West Point and East Tennessee State - after DMV Live I.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Cross transferred into St. Stephens & St. Agnes last year from Tuscarora (Va.) and enjoyed a strong debut, helping the Saints win the IAC and VISAA Division I titles. He’s a talented shooter and defender, and said he’s ready to step into a larger role this season.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Cross, who plays is travel ball with District Basketball Club. “Every day, we’re just going to have to play better than what we did last year. Coaches are allowing us to play in these big roles and we’ve just got to step up to the plate.”
MATT ROGERS, ST. MARIA GORETTI (MD) 2020 FORWARD
Rogers has seen his recruitment explode in the past week, picking up his first Division I offer from Boston University on Saturday and then adding Fairfield, UMass-Lowell, Binghamton and Air Force.
It’s easy to see what those schools like in Rogers, who is healthy after dealing with injuries during the high school season. The 6-foot-8, 205-pounder has nice size and competes hard on both ends of the floor, and is extremely productive on the boards.
Rogers more than held his own in a tight 58-56 loss to Baltimore Catholic League rival St. Frances on June 28, going for 11 points - highlighted by a nasty tip dunk - and 6 rebounds against the Panthers’ explosive frontcourt. His offers started rolling in the following day.
Goretti lost multiple key pieces from last year’s title team, but Rogers is ready to step in and lead the way.
“The mindset is no different,” he said. “We’re still trying to get back to that BCL championship like last year. We’ve just got to teach these young guys how to play our system, and that’s about it. We just like playing aggressive, and teaching these young guys, it’s going to be a hard road but we’re going to get there eventually, for sure.”
In addition to taking on more of a leadership role, Rogers - who runs with Mid-Atlantic Select - said he’s been working on improving his physicality and making his shot more consistent.
“Coming from playing varsity since sophomore year, I’ve had a lot of older guys teach me and it’s just been a great experience,” he said. “So now I’m using my ways of teaching these young guys just how to play in the BCL and how hard it is, and how you’ve got to work every day to get better.”
BRIGGS MCCLAIN, ST. MARIA GORETTI (MD) 2020 GUARD
McClain is one of the players Goretti will need to step up his production following massive graduation losses, and he looked more than up to the challenge against St. Frances on June 28, pouring in a team-high 18 points in a 58-56 loss.
“As you know, we lost like our whole starting five - we lost 9 guys,” he said. “So that means we’ve got a lot of spots to fill, but Coach [Sidney McCray] has prepared us. The younger guys, he’d throw us into games last year to give us a little bit of experience and know what we were expecting for next year. He’s given us the confidence to come in and play like this is our team now, so we’ve got to step up. Just the days in the gym working will help us this year.”
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound McClain was able to get to the basket and finish effectively against St. Frances, keeping defenders off guard with the threat of his shooting ability. (He went 4-of-7 from deep en route to a game-high 24 points in an 82-58 win over St. Andrews the following day.)
“[One of my strengths is] Definitely shooting - I mean, it wasn’t falling tonight, but you have those nights and you’ve just got to keep shooting,” he said. “And then whenever I’m not knocking down shots, to go to the rim and be able to finish, dish and make plays for others. I can slow the offense down after we’ve been sped up, and basically just run the game.”
McClain opened up a lot of eyes at DMV Live 2, and is looking to be an integral piece for the Gaels as a senior.
“I love it a lot better than AAU,” he said of the high school live period. “For me personally, I play better in an organized system, so I like this a lot better than AAU, to be honest. I think it’s a good change and I like it.”
DEVON SAVAGE, RIVERDALE BAPTIST (MD) 2021 WING
A transfer from St. John’s (DC), Savage looks ready for a monster breakout year at Riverdale.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder was dominant in a 65-58 win over Bishop Ireton at DeMatha, scoring 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting while making five 3-pointers.
“It’s going pretty good working with my new team,” he said. “We’re still learning how everybody plays together, but it’s going to be good. I think we share the ball really well; we’re always making the extra pass.”
Savage currently holds scholarship offers from Towson, Stony Brook, Bryant and La Salle, and will definitely see that list expand as he and fellow transfer Guy Fauntleroy (Rock Creek) look slated to step into primary scoring roles.
“[My strengths are] My shooting, being versatile and being able to guard a smaller guard or a big man,” he said. “I want to work on my ball handling and getting to the basket.”
TYLER BRELSFORD, MOUNT ST. JOSEPH (MD) 2020 GUARD
Breslford wrapped up his recruitment with a commitment to George Washington in early May, which he said has allowed him to just focus on playing.
“Its just feels great,” he said. “I can play free, and I don’t have to worry about the recruiting process and stuff like that. I can just go out there and play free. It was really stressful, you know? The next four years is a big part of your life, so it’s just good that I got that out of the way.”
Breslford said his comfort with the GW coaching staff was key in his decision to commit.
“The coaches just built a relationship with me ever since they were at Siena,” he said. “So I just felt like that was home.”
The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Brelsford shined in an 82-79 win over Episcopal, scoring a team-high 26 points and hitting four 3-pointers while dishing out 6 assists.
Breslford started as a junior, but will be counted on to increase his scoring output this year following the graduation of star guard James Bishop (Louisiana State).
“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve got a bigger role to play a part of and I’m just ready for the challenge.”
ZION RUSSELL, GEORGETOWN PREP (MD) 2021 GUARD
Russell enjoyed a breakout campaign in his first year at Prep after transferring from Riverdale Baptist. With the graduations of senior standouts Kamdyn Curfman (Virginia Military Institute) and DeJean Desire (Embry-Riddle) he now finds himself in a leadership role, and it's the one he’s fully embraced.
“It’s pretty good for me,” he said. “I’m always up for a challenge - I’m just a competitor, always wanting to win - and once my team puts the stress on me that I need to be the leader and direct them in what they’re going to do, I accept that challenge any day, any time, any place. I’m ready for it, always.”
Russell’s confidence is well-placed. He was vocal and assertive on the floor, running the offense capably. He broke down the defense and found teammates in good spots, but also finished efficiently on his own while posting 22 points in a 95-84 win over rival Landon (Md.).
The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder picked up an offer from Columbia on June 29.
“Bryant, Boston University and Columbia [have offered],” he said. “A lot of the Ivy Leagues have been reaching out like UPenn, Yale. It’s a good amount and I’m just looking forward to making an impact on the program if they ever offer me.”
BEZ MBENG, GOOD COUNSEL (MD) 2021 GUARD
Mbeng was one of the leaders on a very young Falcons team that took some lumps a year ago, and now he and his team looked primed to turn the corner.
Mbeng has picked up interest from Virginia Tech and Temple, and took an unofficial visit to the Hokies in June.
The 6-foot-3, 17-pounder looked good attacking the basket at DMV Live I, showcasing his athleticism in transition and his ability to finish at the rim.
“I’m more of a slasher,” he said, “but I’m working on my shot, and I can also pass the ball really well and I can play good defense, too.”
Mbeng - who plays his travel call with DC Premier - said playing in front of so many college coaches with his high school was very different, but added that it didn’t change his approach.
“You’ve just got to be ready to play all the time, because you never know who’s watching,” he said. “So if it’s either high school or AAU, you’ve just got to know you’ve got to put on a show.”
NOAH BATCHELOR, GLENELG COUNTRY (MD) 2022 FORWARD
A transfer from St. Maria Goretti, Batchelor looked good with his new squad, getting stronger as the weekend went on to help the Dragons go 3-0.
After opening with 8 points in a 56-48 win over St. Andrew’s, Batchelor poured in 24 points against Potomac School and absolutely went off from 3-point range in an 87-53 win over Landon, going 10-of-14 from the field and a sizzling 8-of-12 from deep while also grabbing 12 rebounds.
“[The transition] has been good,” he said after the opener. “It’s a little bit of a struggle because we have to get our team chemistry up. I’ve only been practicing with them about four or five times, so we’ve just got to bond together. I’m just here to get better with them and work as a team.”
In addition to his shooting ability, Batchelor finishes strong around the basket and flashed good athleticism in the open court, including a nice chasedown block against St. Andrew’s. He showed promise in his freshman season at Goretti, and is looking to build on that with a strong first year for the Dragons.
“It was a good learning experience, because we had a lot of good seniors,” he said of Goretti. “We had Adbou [Tsimbila] who is going to Penn State, so I had to guard him every practice and I was just learning and getting better.”
(Batchelor picked up his first offer, from George Washington, just minutes after this article was initially published.)
JORDAN BRATHWAITE, GLENELG COUNTRY (MD) 2020 FORWARD
The 6-foot-6, 180-pound Brathwaite showed the progression of his perimeter game in a 56-48 win over St. Andrew’s on June 28, scoring a team-high 17 points while going 6-of-7 from the field and a perfect 5-of-5 from 3-point range.
“I’ve been putting a lot of work in with that and I had to earn that,” he said of the chance to take those shots, “because last season I wasn’t shooting like that from 3. I was shooting mid-range, but I just had to work on my outside game because I realize in college at my height at 6-6 I have to work on the perimeter.”
It was enough to impress Youngstown State, which gave Brathwaite his first Division I offer on Tuesday. Brathwaite said he considers his rebound, energy and defense as his strengths, but if he can continue to build on his offensive expansion, he should pick up a few more offers with a solid senior campaign.
“My individual goals are to not only start, but get a lot of time in finishing the game, you know?” he said. “Being one of those players that you can depend on to finish the game and do a little bit of everything - especially rebounding. I put a lot of emphasis on that, and my shot has come along, so I want to be reliable from behind the arc and on mid-range shots, too.”
OUMAR KOUREISSI, NATIONAL CHRISTIAN (MD) 2020 FORWARD
National Christian went 4-0 at DMV Live 2 and the 6-foot-9 Koureissi was a major reason why, giving the Eagles an interior presence on both ends of the floor.
In the three games I saw, Kouressi went for 17 points and 8 rebounds in a 69-57 win over Georgetown Prep on June 28, 15 and 11 in a 54-45 win over Flint Hill June 29 and 22 and 8 in a 78-52 win over St. Mary’s-Ryken.
“My biggest strength is my versatility,” he said. “That’s what attracts coaches - being able to do what I do at my size. If I’ve got a guy my size on my, he may not be able to move as well as me, but if they put a small defender on me I can also just post him up, so I just take pride in my versatility.”
Koureissi said he’s looking to make his jumper more consistent. He’s one of the top players back this year for NCA, and knows he needs to set an example for his younger teammates.
“This is my first time really being a leader so it’s kind of new to me,” he said, “but I’m just trying to step up to the plate and make sure I’m talking at all times, because it’s a lot of new guys on the team, and being a guy that was here last year, I’ve got to make sure they know what’s going on at all times. I just want to be a guy where if anything is going wrong, they can come to me for guidance.”
Koureissi currently holds offers from Bryant, Massachusetts, Towson, Rhode Island and Stony Brook and said he has a good idea of what he’d like in a college home.
“At first I was chasing conferences and stuff like that,” he said. “But now I just want somewhere that best fits me; somewhere I can go and just have almost like a home environment and get better.”
ARNARDO CAMACHO, NATIONAL CHRISTIAN (MD) 2020 GUARD
Camacho flirted with a triple-double in a 69-57 win over Georgetown Prep on June 28, posting 11 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists.
It was one of several strong performances I’ve seen in recent weeks from the 6-foot-3, 175-pounder, who is looking like a sleeper in the 2020 class. Camacho has great vision passing ability, and consistently found teammates open around the basket. He said he’s heard from Delaware and Howard, but is still awaiting his first offer.
“For me, I think I’ve got a great IQ as a point guard,” he said. “I can shoot pretty well and I can go to the basket.”
A native of the Dominican Republic, Camacho came to National Christian from New York last year. He said it took him a few months to adjust and finally get comfortable. With a year under his belt, it looks like he’s ready for a breakout year.
“We’ve just been getting comfortable with each other and we’ve got a few new guys right now,” he said. “We’re just trying to figure out how to prepare for the season coming up.”
JAKAI ROBINSON, NATIONAL CHRISTIAN (MD) 2021 GUARD
Robinson’s tools were on full display in a 69-57 win over Georgetown Prep on June 28, as he scored a game-high 24 points in a variety of ways.
At 6-foot-4 and 197-pounds, Robinson said he’s added 8 pounds of muscle since last year, and looks ready - literally and figuratively - to carry a heavier load this year.
“We have a few more pieces than we had last year,” he said. “We lost a few seniors, but now we’ve got some more height and a couple of good guards.”
Robinson posted 14 points and 9 rebounds in a win over Flint Hill Saturday, showing his ability to get to the rim and finish while also proving disruptive on the defensive end.
ZAY BROWN, CESAR CHAVEZ (DC) 2021 GUARD
The 6-foot-1 Brown picked up an offer from Division II Virginia State after DC Live.
Heading into his third year on the varsity, the 6-foot-1 Brown has emerged as a leader for the Eagles, and said he was glad the event provided some valuable time with his younger teammates.
“We have a lot of incoming freshmen,” he said, “so they aren’t used to playing the way we played from last year. It’s a big transition for them to come over and play high school basketball - and especially play varsity.”
Brown excels going to the basket, and he showed that even when his shot isn’t falling he can still contribute in other ways. He’s a tough lead guard, who should be seeing recruitment from the Division I level as well soon.
“I’m getting a lot of looks,” he said. “A lot of coaches are reaching out to me and my coach [Malcolm Battle], so it’s going pretty good.”
MOE JOHNSON, CESAR CHAVEZ (DC) 2021 WING
Johnson picked up Division I interest with a strong performance at DC Live, which he credited for the opportunity to showcase himself in a familiar environment.
“This opportunity they’re giving us with our high school, I think this is giving everybody a big chance to make a name for themselves,” he said. “And it’s more comfortable playing with a high school team than an AAU team.”
Johnson said America, Holy Cross, Howard and George Washington have reached out, and he’s hoping to continue the momentum with DC Premier this month.
“It’s been going good so far,” he said of the travel season. “We go to Atlanta.”
ACE BALDWIN, ST. FRANCES (MD) 2020 GUARD
With the addition of several high-profile transfers, St. Frances - which won the Baltimore Catholic League and MIAA A Conference titles last year - may have even MORE talent than they did a season ago.
As usual though, Baldwin is the engine driving the entire thing, and he was pleased with how things look so far.
“This group is young, disciplined, and we just go out there and play hard,” he said.
The reigning DMVelite Maryland Player of The Year, Baldwin closed out his recruitment with a commitment to Virginia Commonwealth in April.
“I can just - not chill, but I can just have fun,” he said. “I don’t have anything to worry about with other schools because I already committed. It was very stressful with all the coaches - head and assistant - just texting and calling me every day. I’m glad I got that out of the way.”
JAHMAL BANKS, ST. FRANCES (MD) 2020 WING
Banks generated some of last week’s biggest news with his decision to transfer from Bishop O’Connell (Va.) to St. Frances.
A two-sport standout, football primarily drove the decision to head to SFA, which has developed into a national power on the gridiron. Banks holds multiple Division I offers to play wide receiver.
“I think it was just the best situation for me,” Banks said. “My time at O’Connell finally ended and we didn’t end on bad terms at all. O’Connell will forever be my home, and I got a lot out of it and I really appreciate O’Connell for everything they’ve done for me. We prayed about it and talked about it as a family - me and my Mom - and we felt like it was a better situation for me and my future, going to St. Frances.”
Banks made his debut with the Panthers Saturday in a win over Flint Hill.
“I fit in pretty good,” he said. “They like to run up and down the floor and get steals and just play hard. They grind, for real, so that intensity just builds and that’s how we’re going to win games.”
BYRON IRELAND, ST. FRANCES (MD) 2021 GUARD
A transfer from Annapolis, Ireland finds himself in a new role, as he won’t have to be the primary scoring option. He got to flash his all-around game in an overtime win over Paul VI (Va.) at DMV Live I, going for 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.
“I like my teammates,” he said. “We’re real strong on defense and I need to become more of a defensive player, and I like that. And I like the coaching staff, too.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Ireland was a nice complement to SFA star guard Ace Baldwin in the backcourt at DMV Live I, and his play didn’t slip at all when standout guard Jordan Toles came out for DMV Live II. The Panthers have a wealth of talent on the perimeter, and the competition in practices and games is exactly what Ireland was looking for when he transferred.
“We didn’t have that much tough competition [at Annapolis],” he said. “So to get offers and stuff, I needed more competition and to get seen.”