For the first time in over a year, high school players got the opportunity to play in front of Division I coaches, and everything felt normal again.
Last weekend’s DMV Live at DeMatha and DC Live at Maret marked the first high school live period action since 2019, as the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of last year’s activities.
“I’m happy we’re just able to get out and play in front of people, and obviously the college coaches,” Sidwell Friends (DC) guard Cam Gillus said. “It’s a good opportunity to showcase our skills that we didn’t have last spring and summer.”
I spent Friday at Maret and Sunday at DeMatha, with some live stream viewing from both sites in between. Here’s a look at some of the players I saw in person that stood out:
TYSON COMMANDER, JOHN CARROLL (MD) 2022 GUARD
Commander and his team got to experience a truncated - but very successful - high school season, closing with a victory over defending champion St. Frances to win the Baltimore Catholic League title.
Commander said it felt good to be back in the gym with his team as they prepare to defend their crown.
“I love playing with them, it's a lot of fun,” he said. “So coming off a championship, we have a lot of people coming at our necks this year, so we’ve just got to hold our ground and we’ve got to keep winning. We set the bar high, so we’ve got to keep working this offseason - this spring and summer - so when the fall comes we can work all season to win another championship.”
Commander averaged 20.3 points per game at DMV Live for the Patriots, who finished 3-1 on the weekend. I watched him go for 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting in a 66-49 win over Good Counsel, and post 14 in a 71-47 win over St. Mary’s Ryken. He also tied for the event lead in steals with 3 per game.
The 6-foot-4, 186 pounder - who plays his travel ball with Team Melo - said he’s using this summer to focus on expanding his offensive repertoire.
“Definitely [working] more off the dribble,” he said. “This past weekend I’ve been doing a lot of driving and kicking, lay-ups, dunks - just more off the dribble, because everybody knows I can shoot and spot up.”
CESAR TCHILOMBO, JOHN CARROLL (MD.) 2022 FORWARD
Tchilombo was extremely active on both ends of the floor in his team’s 66-49 win over Good Counsel on Sunday, putting up 14 points and 12 rebounds. He averaged a double-double for the weekend with 10.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
The 6-foot-9 Tchilombo was already a strong defender, but is showing more assertiveness on the offense end as well and could be in line for a huge senior campaign.
DYLAN WILLIAMSON, GOOD COUNSEL (MD) 2022 GUARD
I wasn’t there for Williamson’s 40-point outburst against St. Maria Goretti on Saturday, but it was clear from watching his two games on Sunday that the Falcons trust him to carry the offensive load.
The 6-foot-1 Williamson averaged 24 points per game for the weekend as Good Counsel went 2-2. He has a very quick first step and showed the ability to finish in the paint from multiple spots. He went 6-of-13 from 3-point range overall, and did the bulk of his damage attacking the basket.
ISAIAH COLEMAN, NATIONAL CHRISTIAN (MD) 2023 GUARD
The 6-foot-5 Coleman stole the show in a 60-56 win over Good Counsel Sunday afternoon, putting up a game-high 28 points.
The performance capped a strong weekend for Coleman, who averaged 19 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as the Eagles went a perfect 3-0 at DMV Live.
JADEN JOHNSON, BISHOP MCNAMARA 2023 GUARD
Johnson had a fantastic weekend for the Mustangs, averaging 25 points and 7 rebounds per game while also showing himself to be an excellent on-ball defender.
The 6-foot-2, 195 pound Johnson has played a key role at McNamara since his arrival, and is ready to take on more responsibility this year.
“It’s great,” he said. “Coach [Marty Keithline] trusts me, so I’ve just got to go out there and show what I’m able to do. I’m a leader, so I’ve just got to show it.”
I watched Johnson put up 22 in a 47-39 win over Mount St. Joseph on Sunday morning, but he was even more impressive in the afternoon. In a 65-52 win over St. Anne’s Belfied (Va.) he posted 26 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. On the defensive end, he helped harass STAB star guard Justin Taylor - a 4-star prospect with a final list of Indiana, North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech - into a 5-of-18 shooting day, including 0-for-7 from deep. Taylor finished with 12 points.
Johnson said he considers his on-ball defense one of his strengths, and said he wants to work on improving his off-the-dribble shooting and screen reading.
Johnson holds an offer from George Washington, and said he’s heard from Arizona State and Elon recently. Expect to hear his name in many more conversations soon.
FAVOUR AIRE, BISHOP MCNAMARA 2022 CENTER
After missing his team’s Saturday morning game with ankle injury, Aire returned with a vengeance, posting 25 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks in the Mustangs’ afternoon victory over St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.).
It seems like only yesterday Aire made his debut as a standout freshman at McNamara, and now he’s the squad’s senior leader. It's a role he looks to be ready for.
“Time flies, but it’s good,” he said of his elder statesman status. “You’ve got to step up when you’re needed to, so right now it's my turn to lead and show them how things go in the WCAC and how to play and all that - how to play big varsity games. It’s basically just trying to leave a good example for them.”
When asked who is currently recruiting him the hardest, Aire listed Georgetown, Louisville, Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers, Seton Hall and USC, among others. He added that he’s in no hurry to make a decision.
“I haven’t been on too many visits - I just watched the games last year,” he said. “I want to go out and visit some schools and watch them this year and see how everything goes and just see where I fit it.”
Heading into his final season, Aire said he wants to focus on improving his shot, post reads and ball handling.
“Just my overall basketball IQ, I’m trying to make that smoother,” he said. “I’ve got a little bit of everything, but I’m trying to get what I need for the next level.”
DEON PERRY, MOUNT CARMEL (MD) 2022 GUARD
Perry was basically unguardable the entire weekend, averaging an event-leading 33.7 points for the Panthers. He was deadly from 3-point range, going a sizzling 18-of-34 (53 percent) from beyond the arc.
The 5-foot-10 Perry went for 27 points in an opening loss to Georgetown Prep (Md.) on Saturday, and followed it in the two games I saw on Sunday by going for 39 in a narrow 73-72 overtime defeat to Bishop Ireton (Va.) and 35 in the Cougars’ 82-76 victory over Rock Creek-Green (Md.).
The Team Melo product received his first Division I offer from Loyola (Md.) last week, and did enough at DMV Live to put him on many more radars going forward.
JAMIE KAISER, BISHOP IRETON (VA) 2023 GUARD
After a slow start Sunday afternoon against Mount Carmel, Kaiser took over for Ireton, posting 33 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Cardinal to a 73-72 overtime victory. He was the lone Ireton player to reach double figures in either category for the game, and averaged 21 points and 9.5 rebounds per game as Ireton went 2-2 on the weekend.
The 6-foot-6 Kaiser is also a Division I football prospect, and his strength, athleticism and physicality make him a matchup nightmare on the perimeter and interior. He transferred to Ireton after a highly productive stint at Lake Braddock (Va.), and has definite all-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference potential.
CORTEZ JOHNSON, ST. FRANCES (MD) 2022 FORWARD
Johnson transferred from Loch Raven (Md.) prior to last season and immediately made an impact for the Panthers with his athleticism in the frontcourt.
“I think they’ve helped me develop my jump shot a little bit, put on some muscle and get stronger and faster a little bit,” Johnson said. “They put me in a lot of situations where I have to guard the ball, so I’m faster on my feet and can show the coaches that I can do everything.”
Johnson looked good in a 67-54 win over Rock Creek Green on Sunday, finishing wh 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting while grabbing 9 rebounds and collecting 4 steals.
6-foot-6,195 pounder has begun attracting college attention, picking up scholarship offers from McNeese State, Rider and Wagner in the past month. He’s sure to pick up more with a strong summer playing for Team Thrill.
“It feels good,” he said, “but I don’t really let it get to my head, like, ‘Oh I got an offer.’ I just keep playing my game and working and developing. You can never stop working; you’ve always got something to work on.
DERIK QUEEN, ST. FRANCES (MD) 2024 FORWARD
Queen started slow but showed his versatility in a 67-54 win over Rock Creek Green on Sunday, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting - including 2-of-3 from 3-point range - and 5 rebounds.
“It feels good getting back and showing what I can do in front of coaches,” he said.
The 6-foot-8, 230 pound Queen emerged as one of the best freshmen in the country for St. Frances last year, and is taking a fairly simple approach to Year 2.
“I just want to get better and stronger, that’s it,” he said.
JAHNATHAN LAMOTHE, ST. FRANCES (MD) 2023 GUARD
It's easy to see what college coaches love about Lamothe, who has a great combination of size (6-4), strength and feel for the game. He's an unselfish guard who can find his own shot consistently but never forces it. He didn’t have his best shooting day on Sunday, but consistently found other ways to impact the game.
CAMERON GILLUS, SIDWELL FRIENDS (DC) 2023 GUARD
Gillus didn’t have his best shooting day in a 50-49 overtime win over Eleanor Roosevelt, but he ran the show effectively and put his team in positions to close out the victory late.
“I think late in the game we didn’t execute on defense or offense as well as we could have,” he said, “but with that being said we still stayed together as a team even though the game was getting chippy and the refs started getting in it, and we were able to pull it out in overtime which I think will pay dividends down the stretch later in the season.”
Gillus picked up an offer from Howard University on Sunday, and took an unofficial visit to Charlotte on Monday. His recruitment is trending upward and he should see a lot more interest with a strong summer with Team Durant.
GEORGE PERKINS, SIDWELL FRIENDS (DC) 2022 WING
Perkins posted 17 points in the Quakers’ 50-49 overtime win over Eleanor Roosevelt on Friday, and his 3-pointer to open the OT scoring proved to be the difference.
It was a strong overall game for Perkins, who also had 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
“I’m just happy to be playing again, to be honest,” Perkins said. “I mean, a bunch of these teams from our conference - or other teams we’ve been playing - we haven’t played in almost a year or two. So it’s cool to be out here just playing them again.”
Perkins - who plays his travel ball for Team Takeover - said he was initially concerned that the pandemic layoff would ruin this critical time frame of his recruitment, adding that it’s helped his approach.
“I’ve got to always be ready,” he said. “I have to stay in the right mindset all the time, like I can’t lapse anytime and I’ve always got to be focused. It’s a lot, but it's fun and I’m enjoying it, and I’m just waiting for the season to start; once we get into conference play, that’s what I’m waiting for.”
CARLOS KINARD, ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (MD) 2022 GUARD
Kinard made several big plays in his team’s 50-49 overtime loss to Sidwell Friends, including a deep 3-pointer to send the game to OT.
“The guys, they trusted me and they believed that I could hit the shot,” he said. “They set it up perfectly, and I just had to execute the play.I just followed through on my shot and I didn’t rush it - I took my time - and it just felt through.”
The 6-foot-2, 160 pound Kinard finished the game with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals, leading the Raiders in all three categories.
“I’ve started to get more rebounds because I need to help out the big men on my team,” he said, “and I can execute well with the shots that I take. I like my shot selection better now. Last year I was putting up a lot of ‘green light shots,’ as my coach says, but this year I’m just focusing on making the wide-open shots that I get.”
Kinard added that he and his teammates were happy just to be back together in a a gym playing in front of coaches again.
“It feels great,” he said. “We’ve just got a couple of things to work on and we’ve got to pick up the intensity. We’ve got to start conditioning more - we were tired - and we’ve just got to pick up as a team and come together, because we were falling off a little bit and arguing and stuff. As we picked it up in the second half, it started falling in line better and we started to get focused.”
“We haven’t been in the gym as long as everybody else in this [event]. Everybody else has been working over the winter, fall and all that, and we’re just getting back at it. So we’ve just got to start putting in more work in the gym and weight lifting and we’re going to be straight.”
MIKE AIKEN, THURGOOD MARSHALL (DC) 2021 GUARD
One of the few uncommitted 2021’s playing, Aiken carried his team in a 70-60 loss to Frederick Douglass (Md.), posting an event-high 32 points on 12-of-16 shooting, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range. He averaged an event-leading 28 points per game for the weekend.
MIKHAI ARNOLD, FREDERICK DOUGLASS (MD) 2022 GUARD
Arnold had 27 points in his team’s 70-60 win over Thurgood Marshall, going 10-of-19 from the field. He did a nice job of keeping defenders off balance, and hit three 3-pointers when they tried to play off to stop his drives.
Arnold averaged 20.3 points per game for the weekend. The Eagles lost some critical pieces to graduation, but Arnold and his brother Mikko look ready to step in and pick up the slack.
RYAN ARCHEY, GWYNN PARK (MD) 2022 GUARD
I watched Archey absolutely torch the Georgetown Day defense in a 58-51 victory on Friday going for 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep. Defenders couldn’t stay in front of him, and he finished from a variety of spots. He averaged a team-high 16.8 points per game for the weekend.
STEPHAUN WALKER, COOLIDGE (DC) 2022 FORWARD
Walker posted a game-high 18 points and 8 rebounds in his team’s 57-47 loss to Gonzaga on Friday, going a very efficient 8-of-11 from the field.
The 6-foot-7 Walker is looking much more assertive on the offensive end of the floor, and is in line for a monster senior campaign with the Colts. He holds several D-I offers but should show up on many more radars heading into the fall.
CAM’RON BROWN, ARCHBISHOP CARROLL (DC) 2022 GUARD
Brown had a strong all around game in the Lions’ 71-56 win over University (WV) in the Friday nightcap at Maret, posting 14 points, 5 assists and 4 steals.
Brown led a group of Carroll guards who simply overwhelmed their University counterparts, forcing them into 23 turnovers on the night.
JOSIAH FRANKLIN, ST. MARY’S RYKEN (MD) 2022 GUARD
Franklin poured in a game-high 30 points on 12-of-22 shooting - including 6-of-10 from 3-point range - to help the undermanned Knights to a 73-63 win over Episcopal on Sunday afternoon.
Playing with just six players due to a combination of injuries and illnesses, Ryken impressed with their energy and activity on both ends, with Franklin leading the way offensively.
“We knew we all had to step up because we had six players,” Franklin said, “and that’s what we did and picked up the ‘W.’”
The 6-foot-1, 165 pound guard is hoping to jumpstart his recruitment with a strong summer performance heading into the high school season. He plays his travel ball with the Southern Maryland Heat. He averaged a team-high 19.5 points per game at DMV Live as Ryken went 2-2.
“I’ve been working on making a name for myself basketball-wise around the DMV,” he said.
KE’JUAN RICHBURG, ST. MARY’S RYKEN (MD) 2024 GUARD
The 5-foot-8 Richburg is a lightning-quick guard with a good feel for the game despite his youth. He tallied 20 points and 4 assists in the win over Episcopal, going 8-of-14 from the field.
“I’m a pass-first guard, but if you need me to score, I can score at any time,” Richburg said. “And I can defend at a high rate.”
For the weekend, Richburg averaged 15 points and 4.5 assists per game for the weekend, highlighted by a 27-point, 8-assist performance in a 75-67 win over Potomac School (Va.) on Saturday.
Going into his sophomore season, Richburg - who plays for Team Durant 15U - will be asked to take on a lot more responsibility, and it's a challenge he says he’s ready for.
“It's been a good experience,” he said. “Like, last year I took notes from all the seniors and juniors and I’ve just carried it into this season. I know my role has stepped up a lot more from losing players and I have to play a big role this year.”
NIC DEVE, ST. MARY’S RYKEN (MD) 2022 WING
A 6-foot-3, 170-pound wing, Deve was pressed into post duty for the undersized/undermanned Knights and more than held his own, posting 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbing 9 rebounds with two steals and a block.
“My toughness and my defense, that’s what I really take pride in,” Deve said. “I can score when I want to, but defense is the key thing. Jump shot is the big thing [I want to improve], but other than that I just want to keep working on my game.”
CHARLIE JACKSON, EPISCOPAL (VA) 2022 WING
Jackson had one of the most productive weekends of any player, posting a stat-stuffing line of 20.7 points, 15.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the Maroon.
The 6-foot-5 Jackson opened Sunday with 27 points and an insane 24 rebounds - to go with 6 assists and 4 blocks - in a 75-66 win over Rock Creek-White (Md.), and followed it with 24 points and 16 boards in a loss to St. Mary’s Ryken (Md.).
Jackson really impressed with his motor and willingness to do anything for his team.
OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMERS
Mikko Arnold, Frederick Douglass (Md.) 2022 Guard
Ty’Ron Bevins, Gwynn Park (Md.) 2024 Guard
Blake Barley, University (WV) 2022 Forward
Jeremiah Barnes, Gwynn Park (Md.) 2023 Forward
Jeanott Basima, John Carroll (Md.) 2023 Guard
Justin Boggs, St. Andrew’s Epicopal (Md.) 2023 Guard
Tre Bolding, Coolidge (DC) 2023 Guard
Isreal Bosengya, Archbishop Carroll (DC) 2024 Wing
Carlton Carrington, St. Frances (Md.) 2023 Wing
Quinn Clark, Gonzaga (DC) 2022 Wing
Antonio Cyrus, Georgetown Day (DC) 2022 Wing
Devin Dinkins, Gonzaga (DC) 2022 Guard
Phillip Flegler, Theodore Roosevelt (DC) 2022 Guard
Christian Gamble, Sidwell Friends (DC) 2022 Guard
Marcel Gardner, St. Andrew’s Epicopal (Md.) 2023 Forward
Darren Harris, Paul VI (Va.) 2024 Wing
Carter Lang, St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.) 2023 Center
Robert Lawson, National Christian (Md.) 2022 Guard
Ifanieye Lewis, Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) 2022 Guard
Jeremiah Littlejohn, Rock Creek Christian Green (Md.) 2022 Guard
John Loughlin, Episcopal (Va.) 2022 Guard
Nico McClure, Georgetown Day (DC) 2022 Guard
Aiden Mess, Mount St. Joseph (Md.) 2022 Wing
Dug McDaniel, Paul VI (Va.) 2022 Guard
David Negash, Theodore Roosevelt (DC) 2022 Guard
Tony Pope III, Gwynn Park (Md.) 2024 Guard
James Rice, Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) 2022 Guard
Je’vaughn Sargent, Bowie (Md.) 2023 Guard
Shawn Simmons, St. Frances (Md.) 2023 Wing
Masai Troutman, St Andrew’s Episcopal (Md.) 2022 Guard
Ty Williams, Rock Creek Christian Green (Md.) 2022 Guard