The inaugural Elite Hoops Summer League tipped off at DeMatha Catholic High School last Friday, attracting 13 teams from throughout the DMV.
“It’s a great opportunity for us just to get some exposure just for our school – not necessarily our basketball program, but the school as a whole,” DeMatha coach Mike Jones said on Saturday. “It gets people here on campus, and I think we’ve got one of the best facilities around, so why not use it as much as we possibly can?”
The league sprang up due to high schools being barred from the long-running Kenner League at Georgetown University when the NCAA began prohibiting the holding of high school events on college campuses.
As a result, the Elite Hoops League is the newest addition to the area high school summer league landscape, and offers teams another opportunity to get some work in during the offseason.
“The number one objective is to play in a competitive environment,” Flint Hill coach Rico Reed said Sunday. “It gives us a chance to develop that chemistry and that cohesion that we need. The thing about summer basketball is very rarely do teams have all of their guys or the full complement of your roster. So what it does is it gives some of the other guys a chance to step up.”
The league will feature games three days a week, and culminates with a title game and All-Star contest on July 18.
“I think everything’s moving great,” Jones said. “The games have been on time, and we’re not looking for packed houses, but the crowds have been OK. I’m happy so far that the games have been really good – very competitive – so that speaks to the caliber of teams that are here.”
The teams taking part this summer are:
Archbishop Carroll (D.C.)
Bishop McNamara (MD)
Cesar Chavez (D.C.)
Calvin Coolidge (D.C.)
DeMatha Catholic (MD)
Flint Hill (VA)
Paul VI Catholic (VA)
Potomac School (VA)
Sidwell Friends (VA)
Thomas Edison (VA)
W.T. Woodson (VA)
The teams play an 11-game season, but since there’s an uneven number of squads, Jones said that one – Edison – is only playing 10 games.
Many of this year’s participants are holdovers from the Kenner League, with Jones saying he thought Chavez and Potomac School were the only new additions.
“I was at Potomac High School in Maryland for years,” Reed said, “and we played in the Kenner probably a dozen years. Just having a solid relationship with Mike, I felt like it was a situation where we needed to be playing competitive basketball, I mean, it’s more than just playing summer ball: you want to play competitive basketball and you want to play good teams. That’s the whole objective.”
Flint Hill got what it was looking for in Sunday, as it rallied back from a double-digit deficit to beat Coolidge in overtime, 69-65.
“In this league, every game’s going to be a barn-burner,” Reed said. “We were down, I think, 13, and it gave our kids a chance to develop that confidence. And I’ll be the first to tell you that what happens in June has a direct impact on what’s going to happen in January and February.”
Reed estimates that his team probably plays about 40 games in the summer, and Flint Hill isn’t the only squad that takes part in multiple leagues. Several Elite Hoops League participants also compete in the Rock Summer League at High Point High School in Beltsville, and occasionally play multiple games in a day.
“April through November is when basketball players are made,” Paul VI coach Glenn Farrello said. “Individuals, that’s when you get better. Teams are formed November through April, players are made from April to November. Within that, though, never lose sight of the team concept and how we’re going to do it together. So, I give them a little bit more freedom – we try to maybe loosen up the reins a little bit more during the summer to let them grow – and then we’ll kind of bring it back together when we need to.”
For Jones and the Stags – the area’s perennial power – the summer is just another reminder that they’re the team everyone’s gunning for.
“It keeps the continuity of DeMatha basketball,” he said. “[It’s about] Doing what you’re supposed to do, getting used to taking everybody’s best shot – we’re going to get that in the summer, guys get pumped up to play against. With that being what it is, guys know they have to have their A-game every night or who knows what can happen.”
Among those teams aiming for DeMatha in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference will be Paul VI, which is set to return its entire starting lineup from last season.
“We want to see the development,” Farrello said. “Every year’s different, but with this group right now, we have so much experience back, that we really want to make sure that we develop our bench. We want to get them minutes, get them opportunities, and we want to see if we can play harder for shorter bursts – that’s one of the things we’re working for. But overall, we always talk about from Day One – June 1 to August 1 – we want to see how much we can improve. I think that’s a really important concept for the summer.”
“Identify where our strengths and weaknesses are and form an identity, that’s what we really want to accomplish during the summer. Never forget, that April through November is when basketball players are made – individuals, that’s when you get better. Teams are formed November through April, players are made from April to November. Within that, though, never lose sight of the team concept and how we’re going to do it together. So, I give them a little bit more freedom – we try to maybe loosen up the reins a little bit more during the summer to let them grow, and then we’ll kind of bring it back together when we need to. I think that’s a really important concept for the summer.”