By MARCUS HELTON
HAMPTON, VA - The Hoop Group Southern Jam Fest has solidified itself as one of the go-to stops on the spring basketball calendar, and this year’s event again attracted an intriguing mix of teams from up and down the East Coast.
Here’s a look at some of the DMV-area standouts from last Saturday’s 17U and 16U action at the Boo Williams Sportsplex:
JORDAN MILLER, D1SA SPARTANS 17U
The secret’s officially out on the Loudoun Valley star, as George Mason recently provided the first of what should be a nice collection of Division I scholarship offers. Mount St. Mary’s, Radford and West Virginia have also shown strong interest in Miller, who was DMVelite’s Northern Virginia Player of The Year after guiding LVHS on a dominant state championship run.
“It’s a good sign of progress that I’m obviously working hard and that my game’s elevating,” Miller said. “But I’ve just got to keep working to really show the coaches what I’m really about.”
The versatile 6-foot-6 lefty utilizes his length and athleticism on both ends of the floor, whether he’s cutting to the rim for buckets or blocking shots. He’s extremely unselfish and did a great job of spreading the floor and finding open teammates.
Miller had 21 points in a 76-54 win over Juice All-Stars Friday and opened Saturday with 22 in a 66-61 victory against Team Takeover Grey. He saved his best for the next game though, dropping a game-high 26 points in a loss to tourney host Boo Williams EYBL. Even in defeat - against a higher-profile program with loads of nationally-recognized talent - it was Miller who had spectators talking.
ZYAN COLLINS, D1SA SPARTANS 17U
A 2018 guard from Freedom-South Riding (Va.), Collins scored 11 points in a win over Team Takeover Grey.
At 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds, Collins has good size and athleticism, which he is able to use to his advantage on the offensive end.
“It helps me a lot because I have long arms and I can shoot over my defenders,” Collins said. “But the best part of my game, I think, is mid-range shots.”
Collins also plays cornerback on the Freedom football team, and said he’s received interest from Rutgers, Temple and VMI for that sport.
DARREN LUCAS-WHITE, MARYLAND’S FINEST 17U
Coming off a state title campaign at Fairmont Heights (Md.), Lucas-White is looking to improve his stock with a strong travel season.
“[Fairmont] Coach Chuck Henry, he’s a good coach, and he wants us to get right for college and all that stuff like that,” he said. “It was a big help coming into the AAU season with Coach Levi [Franklin].”
The 6-foot, 170-pound Lucas-White currently holds a Division II offer from St. Michael’s (VT). He did a bit of everything in a 59-46 win over 6th Man Warriors, finishing with a team-high 19 points.
“My strength is driving the basketball, and feeding off the team and playing defense,” he said. “When everybody’s down, I’m the one who, like, picks everybody up on the defensive end.”
MARVIN PRICE, DC BLUE DEVILS 16U
Price (pictured) has played in his fair share of big games in AAU and high school - he led Patterson (Md.) to a state title last last season - and that crunch time experience was evident on Saturday night.
The 6-5 Price put the Blue Devils on his back in a 63-58 comeback win over K-Low Elite, scoring a game-high 32 points. He was relentless attacking the basket and on the boards, and consistently got to the free throw line to keep the Blue Devils close when their shooting went cold from the field.
“I didn’t want to lose,” Price said. “Basically we’ve got a chip on our shoulder, and every team we play is going to come out hard, just like earlier they came out hard. So we knew that this time against a better team, it was going to be even harder. So when I saw we were about to lose, we had to pick it up even more because we let them get going.”
The game was chippy and contentious from the start, with both teams jawing at each other on seemingly every possession.
“I feel as though they just tried to make a name off of us and get a big win,” Price said. “We just weren’t playing our basketball. We were trying to play like them and play their game. We just had to settle in and play our game.”
EVAN BUCKLEY, DC BLUE DEVILS 16U
In his first year with the Blue Devils, Buckley has fit right in with a deep and talented roster.
“I love it,” he said of his squad. “We’re 8-0 on the Circuit and doing real well. It’s easy because you give it up, it's an assist, because everybody can make plays and everybody can make shots.”
Buckley showed he could make big shots of his own as well, hitting a huge 3 to give DCBD the lead late in a win over K-Low Elite.
The Stone Bridge (Va.) star is already on the Division I radar with offers from American, Bucknell, Duquesne, New Hampshire, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Youngstown State. Still, he said he’s got plenty more to show.
“I’m trying to really make sure everybody knows I’m not just a systematic player - just a catch and shoot guy,” he said, “that I can get in the lane and finish and pull-up and control the team, push the break and everything.”
One of the most impressive aspects of Buckley’s game is his patience. He doesn't get sped up by opposing guards or make bad decisions with the ball, and controls the pace.
The 6-foot, 174-pound Buckley averaged a team-high 17.5 points per game for Stone Bridge this past season, but the Bulldogs struggled as a team. Still, Buckley said the experience was beneficial.
“It definitely helped with my confidence,” he said, “because I was scoring the ball well and getting a lot of assists and making plays for my team pretty much every play. We didn’t win as many games as we wanted to, but we’re all young - we only graduated one person, who didn’t really get any meaningful time because he was a football player - so next year we’ll have the same crew.”
SADDIQ BEY, DC PREMIER 17U
The Sidwell Friends (DC) 2018 product has been one of the area’s fastest-rising 2018 prospects, picking up offers from Florida, Georgetown, George Washington, Miami, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Pitt and Rutgers in just May alone.
“I’m just trying to stay humble and hungry, and keep working out with my coach and my high school coach and get better every day,” Bey said. “DC Premier gave me a nice platform to help me develop still, and just try to showcase my talents.”
For a player who entered this past high school season with just one offer - Towson - the recent flurry might seem overwhelming, but Bey isn’t letting it affect his approach.
“It’s pretty good, but I don’t really try to focus too much on it that much,” he said. “I’m just going to keep working until I can ultimately make a decision. It feels nice, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
Bey’s biggest asset is his versatility. At 6-foot-6 and 190 pounds, he has the size to guard forwards and make plays in the post while proving to be a capable ball handler and shooter on the perimeter. He scored 20 points in a 70-43 win over River City Reign, hitting a pair of 3-pointers.
“I try to play multiple positions, and my coach really tries to stress playing more than one and being multi-dimensional,” Bey said. “So I think that’s what I’m really good at and I just need to keep working on it.”
PRENTISS HUBB, DC PREMIER 17U
The Gonzaga (DC) 2018 standout wrapped up his recruitment with a verbal commitment to Notre Dame last week, and said ending the process was a weight off his shoulders.
“It was a hard decision,” he said, “because all of the schools that were recruiting me at the end were really great schools. But I just felt as though that was the right decision for me, based off me, my family and [Gonzaga coach Steve] Turner talking, and I it just felt like the best place.”
The 6-foot-3, 170 pounder looked relaxed and in control in a win against River City Reign, showing great court vision and athleticism.
“The main goal is to win the UAA - that's the one goal I have for real,” he said. “And then personal goals, just getting stronger, being able to make shots more consistently and just get my ball handling more tight.”
EVERETTE HAMMOND, DC PREMIER 17U
The St. Vincent Pallotti (Md.) standout is headed to New England for a prep year at St. Thomas More (CT).
“I think it's going to help me a lot,” he said. “I need another year to develop my body and just get my game right and focus. It was nothing academically; it was just all basketball to get that extra year before I go to college.”
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Hammond finished with 14 points in a win against River City Reign, showing good decision-making, a soft touch and nice vision.
“This is probably the best AAU team I’ve played with since I was younger,” Hammond said. “We’ve got a good group - we’ve got me, Prentiss, Donovann [Toatley], Jermaine [Harris], Saddiq - we’re really talented all around. I love playing with these guys.”
KIYON BOYD, TEAM LOADED VA 17U
One of the area’s most heavily-recruited players, Boyd said he recently added scholarship offers from La Salle, Seton Hall and Tulane to his hefty list. He said he hopes to begin cutting down his list at the end of the summer.
“I just want to finish out good and win the whole thing at the end,” he said. “Just help my guys out and help them showcase their talents the best way that they can and showcase my talent the best way I can and help us get a victory while doing it.”
At 6-5 ½, 220 pounds, Boyd is a matchup nightmare on the perimeter, using an explosive first step and power to overwhelm defenders on his way to the rim. He’s improved his touch from the perimeter, and said he’s working on tightening his handle and becoming a better overall leader. Playing with a stacked Team Loaded squad gives Boyd the opportunity to showcase all facets of his game, and he said he’s enjoying his second year with the Virginia-based program.
“For the most part, all of us on our high school teams are big contributors,” he said, “so it's just good that we can come in and get our chemistry together, and show that we can play together and everybody don’t have to get 20; we can win with everybody scoring 10, 15.”
Boyd earned DCIAA Player of the Year honors at HD Woodson despite a tumultuous season that ended when the Warriors weren’t allowed to participate in the DCSAA State Playoffs. HD was coming off a historic undefeated season the year prior.
“I mean, given the circumstances that we had, i think we finished pretty well,” he said. “We could have won a championship - we should have won a championship, in my opinion. A technical difficulty happened with the state, but it is what it is, and you just bounce back harder than before.”
Whether he’ll be back to finish his career at HD is still in the air, though.
“I mean, it depends on how this summer goes,” he said. “lf this summer goes well, then yeah, I will return. But I mean, it’s all based on this summer.”
RICARDO LINDO, TEAM LOADED (VA) 17U
Lindo enjoyed a breakout season while helping Wilson (DC) to its first DCIAA championship since 1984.
“I think it helped me a lot,” he said. “It gave me some confidence to play with a good team in Team Loaded Virginia, and this will help me for next season hopefully win another championship for Wilson in DC.”
The 6-foot-7 Lindo is rangy and athletic, rebounds well and is active on the defensive end - particularly in the passing lanes.
Lindo’s recruitment has taken off since the high school season, with Brown, George Washington, High Point, James Madison, Lehigh, Loyola and Yale among the schools extending scholarship offers in the past three months.
“[I’m] working hard and just being patient,” he said. “I’m just trying to become a better leader for my senior year and help my team win.”
D'ANGELO TULL, DISTRICT BASKETBALL CLUB 17U
Tull feels his game benefitted following his in-season transfer from St. Mary’s-Ryken (Md.) to Kings Christian (Md.), where he helped lead the Eagles to the Maryland Christian School State Tournament title.
“It definitely was a confidence booster for me,” he said, “and I learned a lot of things because I stayed in the gym a lot with my coaches and personally. They’d teach me things I needed to do, and practice on things I could do better to help my team out. … I became more of a vocal leader, for sure. Just leading the team, getting people into their shots, and defense.”
The 5-foot-9 Tull does a nice job of running the show for his District squad, finding teammates for open shots, and taking on some of the scoring load when he needs to. He’s adept at getting to the free throw line, often doing so after driving to the lane and drawing fouls on larger defenders.
Tull said he’s been hearing from D-2 Queens University (NC).
CHRISTIAN JONES, TEAM BBC 17U
The Annapolis (Md.) 2018 guard has seen his profile raised after a strong high school season, and feels he’s finally ready to show coaches what he’s capable of doing after an injury setback last year.
“[The key is] Just having confidence in myself,” he said, “knowing that I was coming off an injury and not letting it affect the way I play or having that thought of me re-injuring myself in my mind. Just playing and trying to get back to where I was before I got hurt.”
Jones said he tore his right meniscus prior to his sophomore year, scuttling that season. He returned this year to average a team-high 18.5 points per game while leading the Panthers to the state semifinals.
“I’m just about 100 percent,” he said. “Right now I’m working on strengthening it and getting my speed back. … [The high school season] helped a lot. I was using it as a tuneup for the AAU season because I knew that this summer would be a big summer for me.”
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Jones is a deadly perimeter shooter, and is able to efficiently create room to get his shot off.
JEREMY ROACH, TEAM TAKEOVER BLACK 16U
Roach came into the high school season as one of the area’s most highly-touted freshmen, and he more than lived up to expectations with a strong year for Paul VI (Va.) in the loaded Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
“It boosted my confidence a lot,” Roach said. “At first I was real nervous; I didn’t know if I could play at that level, but through the season I just felt like I could play with anybody. And now my confidence is through the roof.”
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Roach already holds scholarship offers from Miami and Virginia, and his talent was on full display in Hampton. Roach was named 16U Division MVP while leading Takeover to the 16U title. He got to the basket with ease, hit mid-range shots and displayed good from from long-range.
Roach has his sights set on winning Peach Jam and finishing out the season with a loaded Takeover squad.
“Its real fun,” he said. “Sometimes - when we play defense - we can get out in transition and score buckets easy. When we don't play defense it gets real hard, but it's fun playing with these guys.”
TERRANCE WILLIAMS, TEAM TAKEOVER BLACK 16U
Williams emerged as a key contributor as a freshman this past season, averaging 7 points per game as the Purple Eagles swept the WCAC, DCSAA and Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament titles.
“It really boosted my confidence up,” he said, “because coming in, it’s high school, WCAC and I thought I wasn’t going to get that much playing time. But Coach Steve Turner believed in me, so I just went out there and showed what I could do.”
Williams already has a college frame at 6-foot-7, 210-pound, and displays toughness and a good feel for the game. In a 60-48 win over Team Thrill he finished with a team-high 15 points while showing a nice shooting touch.
North Carolina State has already offered, and Williams said he’s also heard from George Mason, George Washington, Maryland, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Villanova.
GERARD MUNGO, TEAM THRILL 16U
The Patteson (Md.) 2019 guard was an integral part of the Clippers’ Maryland state title run last season.
“I feel the season helped me with my point guard skills, because I was more of a point guard at Patterson,” Mungo said. “I came out here being a point guard and being a leader. It definitely built my confidence.”
Mungo (6-foot, 180) is a hard-nosed and physical lead guard, who excels at breaking his defender down, getting to the basket and finishing through contact. He said he’s looking to improve his jumper and continue to raise his profile among recruiters.
“My goals for the summer are to win the [Under Armour] Association and have a couple of offers going into the school year,” he said.