WASHINGTON, DC - The inaugural season of the E-League tipped off this past weekend at The Arc in Southeast Washington, DC with plenty of under the radar talent on display.
Designed to give non-sponsored travel teams a circuit experience similar to their shoe company-sponsored brethren, the 24-member league is comprised of 9th, 10th, and 11th grade divisions, with each culminating in a four-team playoff. Session II is scheduled for May 5-6 at Maret School (DC), Session III is May 12-13 at Paul Charter (DC) and EL Haynes Charter (DC), and the playoffs are scheduled for June 23-24 (site TBD). More info is at www.DMVeleague.com
Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the opening weekend:
HILL, MARYLAND MOVEMENT OPEN 3-0
Maryland Movement opened in impressive fashion, picking up wins over Hunting Dogs (76-55) and EBC (57-42) on Saturday and Team Flight (49-43) on Sunday as they geared up for a trip to the Pitt Jam Fest this weekend.
“We’ve got to really prepare,” Movement guard Brycen Hill said, “because we’re in the biggest bracket there - above platinum - so we’re really trying to improve. We need to cut down on turnovers, improve our scoring ability and get the post involved more, and we’ve got to get it done at Pitt Jam.”
A 2019 guard from St. John’s Catholic Prep (Md.), Hill led the way while pouring in an impressively efficient 20 points per game.
After Session I, Hill is shooting 72 percent (21-of-29) from the field - tops among all players with that many attempts - and 68 percent (13-of-19) from 3-point range. He opened with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field (4-for-7 from deep), and followed it with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting (5-of-6) and 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting (4-of-6).
Perimeter shooting has long been a strength for the 6-foot-4, 190 pound Hill, but he’s gotten better at using his shot to set up other aspects of this game.
“I’m improving every year with my scoring ability, especially taking it to the basket,” he said. “My sophomore year I was just a spot-up shooter, but this year I’ve been taking it to the basket a lot and evening it out.”
DAVIS IMPRESSES IN TEAM NATIONALS DEBUT
Playing in his first event for Team Nationals over the weekend, Marcus Davis wasted little time getting comfortable.
The Springbrook (Md.) 2020 guard put up the two top scoring performances in the 10th Grade Division, scoring 22 points in a win over Virginia Panthers and 18 in a victory against Rampage.
“I think I shoot the ball well and pass and I make good decisions,” Davis said. “I’m trying to get stronger and get faster and I think if my body comes along then I could be a good player.”
Team Nationals finished the weekend 2-1 after an opening forfeit, but will be right in the thick of the 10th Grade playoff race, with three other teams also at 2-1. With Davis leading the way, scoring shouldn’t be an issue. He showed a well-rounded offensive game and consistently kept defenders off balance.
“For this spring and summer, I want to just get my name out there,” he said. “I didn’t play a lot my sophomore year on varsity, so I just want to get my name out there this summer.”
GUARDS, SHOOTING KEY MARYLAND ELITE
The Maryland Elite 9th Grade team made opponents pay for giving them open shots all weekend, posting a 3-0 record in Session I.
Leading the way was Blake 2021 guard Ethan Levine, who finished second in the Division in scoring at 12.7 points per game and tied for the assists lead with 2.7 per contest. Levine played on Blake’s junior varsity last year, working his way into a key role by the end of the year. He’s carried that confidence into the spring.
“It felt good,” he said. “Now when I play AAU and I’m playing with kids my age all the time it’s a lot easier, so I can be one of the best players on the court.”
Levine hit four 3-pointers against Nova Game Changers and three against Higher Level, but he wasn’t the only player hitting from long range, as Ari Gershman, Teddy Kelly and Shaq Samuels all had games with multiple 3-pointers.
“I think it went real good,” Samuels said. “I think we can win a lot of games if we stay focused on Coach Andy [Fitzmeyer]’s game plan.”
HIGHER LEVEL DEALS WITH GROWING PAINS
Higher Level 9th Grade opened Saturday on a high note, getting a balanced effort from several players – led by Potomac (Va.) 2021 guard Ed Simms – in a 40-30 victory over Nova Game Changers.
“It an unconventional team - a bunch of bigs and a bunch of point guards - but we defend well,” coach Paul Pleas said. “I think we outrebounded them by 26 rebounds, so we hit the boards and we did what we were supposed to do and got the ‘W.’”
After scoring 40 points in that game, though, the Higher Level offense bogged down, and they notched just 22 and 29 points in losses to Maryland Phoenix and Maryland Elite, respectively. Rebounding and defense were still a strength - they allowed just 29 and 40 points in those losses - but Pleas is focused on helping his new squad make the necessary adjustments offensively. He admitted he has adjustments to make as well after coaching 17U last year.
“17’s know certain things that 15’s just don’t know,” he said, “and I’ve got to make sure that I’m explaining it and slowing down. So, it’s going to take more time. It’s a process.”
DMV Hunting Dogs guard Tervondre Williams (McKinley Tech 2019) put on a shot in a Saturday loss to Maryland Movement, pouring in a Session-best 29 points. … Allentown Pressure’s Antwann Smallwood (Friendly) was right behind him, dropping 28 against HC United. His 14.3 points per game lead the 9th Grade Division. ... Team Flight’s Raef Hetherington (Blake 2020) provided the league’s first buzzer-beater, hitting a 3-pointer as time expired to give his team a 48-47 win over DMV Hunting Dogs. … Team NAF 11th Grade big man Christopher Barnett (National Academy Foundation 2019) turned in the most efficient scoring performance of the weekend, scoring 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting from the field - including 2-of-2 from 3-point range - in a 53-34 win over All City Elite. … All City Elite’s Imani Anderson established himself as an early Top Defensive Player candidate with seven steals in a 66-43 win against Rampage. … Despite playing up in the 9th Grade Division, the Metroball 14U squad went 3-0, led by 2021 forward Joshua Hardy (12 points and 8.3 rebounds per game). The team is coached by Theodore Roosevelt (DC) varsity coach Rob Nickens.
Kennedy Birdwell, All City Elite
Kendall Coclough, NAF
Stephon Greene, All City Elite
Dorian Hurd, Team Flight
Max Johnson, Nova Game Changers
Brendan Leverone, Nova Game Changers
James Mayo, DMV Hunting Dogs
Darren Miller, Team Flight
Jamal Muhammad, Maryland Movement
Mike Policarpio, Nova Game Changers
Micko Reeves, EBC
Eric Roland, All City Elite
Miles Samuels, Team Flight
M. Scott, EBC
Aaron White, Maryland Movement
Diallo Whitley, Rampage
Michael Wrigth, NAD
Mike Aiken, All City Elite
Imani Anderson, All City Elite
Derek Butler Jr., Rampage
Copeland, Team Synergy
Elijah Crawford, Rampage
Michael Henderson Jr., Virginia Panthers
Salem Olusoii, Team Nationals
Romen Perry, Maryland Tigers
Benjamin Roberts, Rampage
Jaiden Ruffin, WDC Bears
Michael Thompson, Team Synergy
Sage Uwedimo, All City Elite
Rashaad Ward, WDC Bears
Grant Baker, Nova Game Changers
Marion Gary, Rampage
Joshua Hardy, Metroball
Miles Hicks, Maryland Phoenix
Reggie Jarrett, Allentown Pressure
Darius Jones, HC United
Teddy Kelly, Maryland Elite
Charles McLain Jr., Rampage
Jabare McNeil, Metroball
Aaron Randolph Jr, Rampage
Sid Smith, Maryland Phoenix
Tazir Smith, Higher Level
Tyler Stringer, Higher Level
Tommy Waltz-Chesnaye, Maryland Phoenix
Mike Williams, Allentown Pressure