MANASSAS, VA - The 2019 DMVelite Nova Tip-Off Classic at Osbourn Park High School featured plenty of standout performances.
Here’s a look at some of Saturday’s notables:
ALPHONZO BILLUPS, VARINA (VA) 2022 WING
The 6-foot-5, 170-pounder looked dominant at times in a 66-60 win over Woodbridge, posting a game-high 27 points.
Billups finished 10-of-13 from the field - highlighted by a couple of big dunks - and 7-of-8 from the foul line while also tying for the team lead with 6 rebounds. The Vikings couldn’t keep him out of the lane.
“I can get to the lane all day and score,” Billips said. “Getting to the basket [is my strength].”
Billups - who plays his travel ball for the Virginia Havoc organization - said he’s received early recruiting interest from Old Dominion and William & Mary, among others.
“He’s growing every day - in height and in character and as a player,” Varina coach Kenneth “Boom” Randolph said. “I just want him to continue to get better - I mean, he’s got a tremendous ceiling that we all can’t see. So if he continues to work on his game, then he can probably be one of the best players in the state or the region.”
KENNETH CLARK, FOREST PARK (VA) 2021 GUARD
Clark opened the day with a flourish, pouring in an event-best 32 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a 79-71 win over Veritas Collegiate.
The output was a career-high for Clark, who said he had never scored more than 20 points in a game previously.
“I was just shooting,” he said, “and then in the last timeout somebody said I had, like, 30-something. So I was pretty excited then.”
The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder was effective all day in getting to the basket and finishing with either hand. He got to the foul line consistently and capitalized when he got there, going 14-of-16 from the foul line. He shot 9-of-15 from the field.
“I do a dribble pull-up, but I didn’t really show it in the game, because driving to the basket was working,” he said. “We were driving and getting fouls, driving and kicking it to teammates - I do that a lot - and I like to play defense a lot.”
19 of Clark’s points came after halftime, as he helped the Bruins hold off a later Veritas rally.
“It was a big game for him,” Forest Park coach Mak Dogbatse said. “He was one of the kids that put in work all summer, working hard and I’m so happy for him that he was able to pull this game out. He had a good game the first game, and took a shot at the end of the game that didn’t go in that would have tied the game up. Then he kept his head and stepped up and had another big game for us. So that’s good; we’re expecting a lot of big things from him this year.”
KYLE BOND, FOREST PARK (VA) 2020 FORWARD/CENTER
Bond was saddled with early foul trouble, but impressed in limited action, posting 10 points and 8 rebounds in just 13 minutes of play.
The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Bond is a textbook sleeper. He played on the freshman team in 9th grade and the junior varsity as a sophomore, but didn’t go out for the team last season, Dogbatse said.
“We were surprised he tried out - we were happy he tried out and happy he’s with us," Dogbatse said. "He’s been putting in a lot of work and lost some weight in the summertime, and he just came and showed up to tryouts and just started showing us this, so we said, “Alright, we're going to keep you.’ He’s a smart kid and he’s learning the game. He’s learning how to finish and he’s a big 6-8, so it’s hard to handle him down there.”
In what was just his second varsity game, Bond was active early, highlighted by a monster two-hand dunk. He moves well and showed soft hands and good feet. He said he’d like to play college basketball, but has yet to hear from anyone - not surprising given his lack of varsity experience.
“I think I’m pretty athletic for a big person,” Bond said. “I’m good at getting rebounds on offense and defense, and I’m strong finishing inside and a good free throw shooter. I think my most underrated thing is my jump shot - if I’m open I can hit the shot, and I’m confident in it. I think my strengths are definitely on the inside - finishing, getting rebounds hedging good on screens and coming off and playing good help defense. Those are my strengths.”
Dogbatse said Bond needs to work to avoid foul trouble - he said he picked up two early ones in their season opener as well - but added he’s already seeing progress,
“I think he’s starting to learn how to play with fouls and not pick up the cheap, silly fouls,” Dogbats said. “It’s a new year and I’m excited for him. We’re expecting a lot of big things from him this year.”
IKE SALISU, BOWIE (MD) 2020 FORWARD
Salisu shined in the Bulldogs’ 60-54 win over host Osbourn Park, tallying game-highs in both points (21) and rebounds (12).
At 6-foot-3 and 185-pounds, Salisu is undersized for a typical forward, but he more than makes up for it with effort, athleticism and a feel for the game. He’s very quick off the floor - he had several two-handed dunks where he barely needed to gather himself - and showed the ability to dominate on the offensive glass. He finished with four offensive boards, including a big one of a teammates’ missed free throw late as the Bulldogs worked to hold off an Osbourn Park rally.
“The strengths of my game are rebounding, getting to the paint and just being able to finish around the rim,” Salisu said. “[I want to work on] My 3-point shot and ball handling.”
Now in his third year on the BHS varsity, Salisu seems primed for a breakout season.
JACOB COOPER, GREEN RUN (VA) 2021 GUARD
Cooper finished with a game-high 17 points in Green Run’s 62-43 win over Virginia Academy, but what truly stood out was his court vision and ability to set teammates up to score.
Cooper dished out an event-high - and by a wide margin - 13 assists in the victory, and at times it felt like more. He did a great job of attacking the Virginia Academy interior and finding teammates open or finishing himself. Cooper got the Stallions out and running early and the Patriots simply couldn't keep up. Very tough and effective lead guard.
GEORGE WILSON, GREEN RUN (VA) 2021 FORWARD
The 6-foot-5 Wilson showed impressive athleticism in a win over Virginia Academy, posting 14 points and 8 rebounds. He also helped to slow down Patriots 2021 big man Oluwasegun Durosinmi, limiting him to just four points.
A two-sport standout, Wilson joined the Green Run football team for the first time this past season and made an immediate impact, earning scholarship offers from Old Dominion, Pittsburgh,South Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
“This was his first year playing football and we had a very good season,” Green Run hoops coach Kenneth Harris said. “He’s an athletic kid - I don’t understand why people wouldn’t look at him [for basketball], because I guess from what they said the big boy [Durosinmi] has got a lot of people looking at him - I don’t know. But George goes hard - that’s just how he plays.”
Wilson picked up an early DI basketball offer from Hampton as a sophomore, and Harris said a few Division 2 schools have called..
“He’s just going to keep working; he loves the sport,” Harris said. “But I mean, like I tell him, whatever you do, you’ve got to work.”
JOHN AWOKE, ANNANDALE (VA) 2023 GUARD
Playing just his third varsity game, the 6-foot-2 freshman impressed with his IQ and instincts on the defensive end.
Awoke came off the bench to score 13 points in a 68-38 win over Anacostia, and although he didn’t shoot a high percentage he showed solid mechanics on his jumper and fell victim to a few bad bounces. He also tied for the team lead with 7 rebounds and showed an ability to contribute in a variety of ways. Definitely a name to keep an eye on going forward.
COREY CAULKER, VIRGINIA ACADEMY 2023 GUARD
Caulker was a bright spot for a Virginia Academy offense that struggled following the midweek transfer of leading scorer Marchellus Avery to CORE 4 Academy in Georgia.
Caulker stepped up to fill some of that void, coming off the bench to post a team-high 13 points on an efficient 5-of-8 shooting performance, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. The Patriots will need someone to help carry more of the scoring load, and Caulker appears to have the tools to do so.
ETHAN WILSON, OSBOURN PARK (VA) 2020 GUARD
Wilson was a marked man from the opening tip of a 60-54 loss to Bowie, but despite the defensive attention he managed to lead this team in both points (18) and assists (5).
The only other Yellow Jacket to score in double-figures was guard Cameron Cole (11) who departed with an injury and missed the second half, forcing Wilson to press late. He currently holds Division II scholarship offers from Georgian Court (NJ) and Wilmington (DE).
MICHAEL COOPER, WOODBRIDGE (VA) 2022 GUARD
Cooper was big in the second half of the Vikings’ 66-60 loss to Varina, posting 15 of his team-high 17 points after the break as he nearly willed his team back from an early deficit.
The 6-foot-2 Cooper finished 5-of-8 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. The sophomore has the tools to be a special player for the Vikings.
SHANE FEDEN, WOODBRIDGE (VA) 2021 FORWARD
Feden showed the ability to stretch the defense against Varina, going 3-of-5 from 3-point range. At 6-foot-5 he can effectively shoot over smaller defenders, and he also showed good touch around the basket while finishing with 15 points on a very efficient 5-of-7 shooting day. On the defensive end, he led the team with 4 steals and showed good anticipation.
BRYCE HAWKINS, VERITAS COLLEGIATE (VA) 2022 GUARD
A transfer from Edison (Va.), the 5-foot-11 Hawkins led the way as the Spartans rallied back from an early deficit to make things close before ultimately falling short in the opening game against Forest Park.
Displaying good strength and quickness, Hawkins finished with a team-high 19 points, 12 of which came in the second half. He also led the team in both assists and steals, notching 4 of each.
Ryan Adams, Annandale (VA) 2020 Guard
Cameron Cole, Osbourn Park (VA) 2022 Guard
DJ Dormu, Veritas Collegiate (VA) 2023 Guard
Damien Gant, Anacostia (DC) 2020 Wing
Hamilton Gbugu, Bowie (MD) 2020 Forward
Corey Harden, Varina (VA) 2020 Guard
Eli Kennedy, Green Run (VA) 2021 Guard
Rodney Manning, Bowie (MD) 2021 Guard
Levi Morales, Veritas Collegiate (VA) 2020 Wing
Peter Oduro, Osbourn Park (VA) 2021 Forward
Dylan Simmons, Woodbridge (VA) 2023 Guard
Tyler Smith, Forest Park (VA) 2021 Wing
Leoule Yared, Annandale (VA) 2022 Guard