BALTIMORE, MD - Ten teams took part in the 3rd Annual DMVelite / Mt. Zion East Coast Prep Showcase last weekend, marking an official start to the area 2015-16 season.
In addition to host Mt. Zion Prep, the event featured Believe Prep (SC), Capitol Christian (Md.), Coastal Academy (NJ), Elev8 Institute (Fla.), First Love Christian Academy (Pa.), Moravian Prep (NC), Scotland Performance Institute (Pa.), SPIRE Academy (OH), and Upper Room Christian (NY).
Among the college coaches in attendance were UMBC, High Point, Hofstra, Longwood, Louisiana Tech, Rider, Coppin State, Morgan State, Goldey-Beacom, Virginia Union and Lebanon Valley.
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DEJESUS MAKING IMMEDIATE IMPACT
Mt. Zion 2016 guard Ceasar Dejesus (PICTURED) led all scorers with 67 points in the Warriors' three victories, good for an average of 22.3 per game. He poured in a single game-high 29 in a win over Moravian Prep
The New Nersey native showed his ability to score at all levels, getting to the rim and hitting from mid-range and beyond the 3-point arc. He maintained that putting up points isn’t his primary focus this season, though.
“[I’m working on] How to take care of the ball more and become, like, more of a point guard,” Dejesus said. “Like, I know I can score at will, so now I just need to get my teammates involved, and that’s what I’m working on the most.”
After a summer stint with BMore’s Finest and through his first few months at Mount Zion, Dejesus said he’s seen his recruitment begin to take off.
“Recruiting-wise, it blew up,” he said. “I went from having Quinnipiac and Rider to, like, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, Memphis - bigger schools. It blew up a lot thanks to this program.”
SHIVERS, MONTGOMERY START STRONG
A pair of DMV natives excelled in their Mount Zion debuts, as Ahsante Shivers (Clinton Christian) averaged 16.3 points and 5.7 rebounds and Robert Montgomery (Takoma Academy) put up 13 point and 7 boards.
“I think this prep year will definitely advance me as a basketball player,” Shivers said. “I’ve already learned a lot of things as far as basketball that I didn’t know before. And I think it will help my recruitment as well; they’ve got a lot of connections with coaches.”
Shivers said Morgan State, Missouri State, LIU-Brooklyn, Quinnipiac and Cal State-Northridge have shown interest, adding his primary focus is on honing his point guard skills.
“I’ve been a shooting guard for most of my career,” he said, “but I’m trying to convert to a point guard, so I’m constantly working on my ball handling and trying to get it up to where I can play point guard at the next level.”
Montgomery has also seen his recruitment pick up, earning an offer from Rider recently. Central Connecticut State, Murray State, Robert Morris and St. Joseph’s have all expressed interest.
“I’ve definitely been working on my jump shot a lot, and just trying to convert from a post to a wing,” Montgomery said. “… We’ve been overlooked this year because we don’t have the big names that we’ve had in the past, but we wanted to come out and prove that we’re still the same Mt. Zion. So, this was big for us, getting three wins.”
ST. FRANCES GUARDS DO DAMAGE
St. Frances’ guard play has been its strength the past few seasons, so it was no surprise that its backcourt excelled in the first big test of the year.
The senior tandem of Kurk Lee and Daquan Bracey combined for half of their team’s points in a 72-63 win over Spire Academy-Blue, helping the Panthers rally back from an early deficit.
Lee finished with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting (including 2-of-4 from 3-point range) to go with 7 assists and 3 steals, while Bracey put up 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
“We know each other’s spots and things like that; where we want the ball,” Lee said. “If I’m pushing, he’s going straight to the corner for open shots and things like that. That’s come over the years.”
SFA will be counting especially heavy on Bracey and Lee this season as their sophomore and junior-laden roster comes together.
“This year is about me maturing and stepping into that [leadership] role,” Bracey said. “It’s kind of hard for me, ’cause I’m not a talkative person, but I’ve got to start doing it more and when I do my teammates respond to me better.”
There is plenty of young talent on hand, including 2018 guard Elijah Epps, who put up 13 points off the bench on 5-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-4 from long range.
In the frontcourt, the Panthers boast a pair of new starters in 2017 Tairik Johnson and 2018 Patterson transfer Koran Moore, who are seeking to fill the holes left by the graduations of Josh Ayeni (Montverde Prep) and Eric Cobb (South Carolina).
Moore finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds in the win, while Johnson grabbed 7 rebounds and had two steals.
“They’re going to be a big part this year,” Bracey said. “They’ve got to get used to us, and we’ve got to work on getting them the ball so they can be used to it in the game.”
STERLING RELISHING NEW ROLE
After two years of waiting to run a varsity team, Capitol Christian 2016 guard Jasper Sterling has a chance.
The Riverdale Baptist transfer looked good leading the Warriors to a runner-up finish in the DMVelite Fall League last month, and he carried that momentum into the weekend while averaging 9 points and 5.5 rebounds.
“Yeah I’m looking forward to it,” Sterling said. “It’s more me, and I can control the team and they’re depending on me. It’s something I’m trying to work on my game for in college.”
Sterling spent his freshman year at Don Bosco before transferring to Riverdale, where he played junior varsity as a sophomore and in a varsity reserve role as a junior.
“I’m trying to learn how to get more teammates more involved,” he said. “As a scorer, I’m trying to work on my mid-range and my jump shot.”
JUWAN SMITH FINDS FIT AT MORAVIAN
Juwan Smith was unsure of what his next move would be after graduating from St. Mary’s-Ryken (Md.) last spring, but a strong summer campaign
Smith said coaches from D-I New Jersey Institute of Technology were impressed with his play during a live period event, and put him touch with Moravian Prep (NC).
The choice looks good for both, as Smith turned in a strong weekend for Moravian, finishing second on the team with 14 points per game as they split a pair of games. He shot 7-of-11 (63 percent) from 3-point range, and dished out 6 assists to just one turnover.
“I think this will be a great year for me, and maybe I’ll grow a few inches,” the 5-foot-7 Smith said with a laugh. … “I think the prep year will help me a lot and give me a year to develop and become a more complete point guard overall.”
Since heading south, Smith said he’s heard from Furman, High Point, Towson and Valparaiso, but is still awaiting his first offer. Last weekend marked a good start, however, and also afforded Smith’s family the opportunity to see him a bit closer to home.
“It was good,” he said. “I went home last night and got to see my Grandmother and my brother and everybody, so it was pretty good playing back where I’m from. It was a good feeling.”
Gaithersburg (Md.) High School graduate Anthony Tarke committed to D-2 Concord (W.Va.) early in the summer, but elected to take a post-graduate year at Coastal Academy. He put up 12 points and four rebounds in an 89-83 win over Upper Room Christian. Poly 2015 grad Marcel Thompson had 9 points, four rebounds and a team-high six assists in the win. … Parkside (Md.) HS graduate Colen Gaynor finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds in Scotland Performance Institute’s 80-71 loss to Moravian Prep. … Moravian Prep featured the sons of former Seattle Supersonic teammates Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel: Jamar Kemp and Xavier McDaniel, Jr. The younger Kemp finished with 6 points and a team-high 10.5 rebounds per game, while X-Man Jr. also averaged 6 points per game. … Woodlawn (Md.) graduate Justin Brown averaged 5 points and 5 rebounds in two games for Upper Room Christian.
Christopher Burley, Believe Prep
Tyrone Killings, Believe Prep
Dyshane Murphy, Believe Prep
Ashton Spears, Believe Prep
Isaac Bassey, Capitol Christian
Andrew Hill, Capitol Christian
Aziz Austin, Coastal Academy
Dachon Burke, Coastal Academy
Kessly Felizar, Coastal Academy
Randy Thomas, Coastal Academy
Tyler Chisolm, Elev8
David Georgiev, Elev8
Jonathan Nunez, Elev8
Wyatt Self, Elev8
Wyatt Walker, Elev8
Drake Wilks, Elev8
Kevin Hamlet, First Love Christian
Prince Oduro, First Love Christian
Aneury Parra, First Love Christian
Mohammed Selim, First Love Christian
Najee Garvin, Moravian Prep
Colton Kolowski, Moravian Prep
Emmanuel Nzekwesi, Moravian Prep
Jared Richardson, Moravian Prep
Jared Armstrong, Mt. Zion
Matt Breno, Mt. Zion
Nehemiah Mack, Mt. Zion
Deon Tabb, Mt. Zion
Alexis Yetni, Mt. Zion
Nayquan Counsil, SPI
Randy Dupont, SPI
Mark Tihonenko, SPI
Jordan Blount, Spire
Eskor Edem, Spire
Kajon Gordon-Stephens, Spire
Tyrell Gumbs-Frater, Spire
Rijn Hartman, Spire
Marcell Haskett, Spire
Marcus Heard, Sprire
Aidas Kavaliauskas, Spire
Nick Kornieck, Spire
Biel Llanso, Spire
Marcus Otter, Spire
Prince Hickson, Upper Room
Patrick Johnson, upper Room
Ramel Powers, Upper Room
Steven Tymes, Upper Room