By MARCUS HELTON
WASHINGTON, DC - With the 2016-17 high school season officially in the rearview mirror, players have turned their attention to the camp and travel season as another key summer approaches.
Saturday’s third annual 30x30 Select Combine at Coolidge High School gave 95 players the opportunity to get a jump on the summer against high-quality competition.
“It’s amazing,” Theodore Roosevelt 2017 forward Deon Savage said. “I came out here last year and played, and it’s good playing with the guys you play against all the time around the DMV and then doing my thing and showcasing my talent.”
Champe (Va.) 2017 guard Dom Fragala and Wise (Md.) 2017 forward Darron Barnes shared MVP honors, while Barnes’ Team Gray squad took home the championship.
Here’s some note from Saturday’s event:
DOM FRAGALA, CHAMPE (VA) 2017 GUARD
Fragala averaged an eye-popping 36.9 points per game for Champe this season, and showed his scoring touch on Saturday while earning Co-MVP Honors.
Fragala averaged 10.5 points per game - tied for third overall in the event - and posted a team-high 14 for his Team White squad in a 67-58 championship game loss to Team Gray, going 5-of-8 from the field and 2-4 from 3-point range.
Fragala was a key contributor in Champe’s deep playoff run in 2015-16, and stepped his game up to another level this year after the team lost several pieces to graduation.
Fragala attributed an increased sense of confidence to his offensive productivity this year.
“If you have confidence, everything falls in line,” he said. “The teammates I have, they needed more of a leader [this year], so they trust me to take the shots I need to take.”
“Coming into the season, I knew I had to do more things than I did last year. I had to basically do the impossible to get the wins we needed.”
Fragala currently holds one D-I offer from Mississippi Valley State, and is considering several Division II, Division III, Junior College and Prep School options.
“Right now I’m not sure,” he said. “Me and my Dad have been talking about it, but we really haven’t made a decision.”
Wherever he ends up, Fragala feels he’ll be able to step in and contribute immediately.
“I can shoot, and if they need a leader I can be one,” he said. “I just like bringing energy to my teammates. [Scoring has always been] natural. I just let it come to me; I try not to force it and I let the game come to me.”
TRAVIS HENSON, POTOMAC (MD) 2017 GUARD
Henson was productive as a junior at Friendly last year, but saw his recruiting profile rise following his transfer to Potomac last summer. He led the Wolverines in scoring (16.2) while guiding them on a playoff run that saw them fall just one point short of the 3A state championship.
“I think my Friendy season kind of helped me because I was able to start scoring the ball more and got my game a little better and got looked at more and played in some big-time games,” he said. “Then I think coming to Potomac and actually making it to where we did elevated it pretty much.”
The 6-foot-5 Henson is long and athletic, and plays with impressive energy on both ends of the floor. He’s attracted interest from some Division I schools and junior colleges, and said he plans to take some visits in April.
In the meantime, he said he’s focusing on improving his perimeter game - specifically his handle.
“I can handle the ball, but sometimes I just let my guards do the work,” he said. “But at the next level, I’m probably going to have the ball in my hands a little more, so [I’m working on] just handling the ball and making good decisions with it.”
KELEAF TATE, CESAR CHAVEZ (DC) 2017 GUARD
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Tate is one of the top remaining unsigned guard prospects in the area, and showed his full offensive array - driving, mid-range and 3-point touch - while averaging 14.7 points per game in three contests. He had an event single-game best 24 points in a 54-49 win over Team Gold, shooting 10-of-16 from the field while grabbing 8 rebounds.
Tate holds several Division I offers, but a pair of them are in limbo following coaching changes at Niagara and Quinnipiac. He also holds a host of Division 2 offers.
“I’m going to get in the gym and keep working out and see if I can get any more college offers coming in,” he said. “I’ve got an official visit on [April] 25th to Longwood University, and then I’ve got a major D-I prep school that I’m going to go visit. But I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing. Keep grinding and getting in work and get in the weight room.”
Tate said he’s also focusing on improving his ball handling and finishing stronger with his left hand.
“[In college] I can bring shooting the ball well, no matter whether I start or not,” he said. “If I come off the bench I’m going to continue to do the stuff that makes the team win, contribute and play defense.”
DANIEL OLADAPO, BLADENSBURG (MD) 2018 FORWARD
Oladapo had a nice junior season at Bladensburg, and picked up his first Division I offer from High Point last week. Several other Division I program have inquired about the 6-foot-5 combo forward, who averaged 14.5 points and 6.8 rebounds on Saturday.
“This summer I’m playing the wing mostly,” said Oladapo, who will run with DC Blue Devils. “So I’m working on my handle and my shot and getting into the lane and creating for teammates - being a playmaker.”
Oladapo had 15 points and 7 rebounds in Team Gray’s championship win over Team White, and had a 20-point, 10-rebound performance in a win over for champion Team Gold.
JOHN FIERSTEIN, QUINCE ORCHARD (MD) 2017 FORWARD
[Pictured right] Fierstein’s versatility on both ends of the floor was a key part of Quince Orchard’s run to the 4A state title game, and it was evident on Saturday despite the free-flowing nature of the games.
“I think I’m a smart basketball player and I think having an IQ means you can do a lot in a pinch,” he said. “I think I can do a lot of different things; whether a coach needs me to play point guard, small forward or shooting guard, I think I can do whatever a coach needs me to do.”
The 6-foot-3 Fierstein holds a Division 2 offer from Shepherd (W.Va.) and said he’s also looking hard at Division III Catholic (DC), Salisbury (Md.) and St. Mary’s (Md.).
“I’m definitely looking for a good education, but for basketball I want to find the right fit,” he said. “I mean, if that means I have to sit out a year that’s whatever - I’ll sit out and wait for playing time. But I want to come in and I want to make a difference, and I want to be competing to make it to the NCAA Tournament and trying to play into the postseason. After my experience at Maryland, you want to make it to the big games.”
Fierstein said he’s working to get stronger for the next level, as well as increasing his shooting range and consistency.
DARRON BARNES, WISE (MD) 2017 WING
Barnes was already a Division I prospect coming into the season, but raised his stock by showing improved ball handling and decision-making on the perimeter for the Pumas.
“My coach really put me in kind of a point guard role, he said, “and doing that, it just showed coaches that I’m not just a rebounder; I can facilitate and play a lot of positions on the floor.”
Barnes said he’s planning to attend a prep school, and will play for DC Premier this spring and summer to continue his improvement.
“I think [prepping] could benefit me significantly, honestly,” he said. “I think I showed some of the things I improved on today as far as skill-wise and ball-handling, and I think with my poise and my ability to play multiple positions I can really step in and be kind of a true point forward. I think that can really get me some solid offers - some offers from even bigger schools than I already have in Division I.”
Barnes earned Co-MVP honors on Saturday after averaging 9.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and an event-best 4.3 assists per game. He had 9 points, six rebounds and 9 assists in Team Gray’s championship win against Team White.
“I’ve just been working on my game and working on my craft and improving slowly but surely every year,” Barnes said. “But I think I’m just scratching the surface. I’m young - I don’t turn 18 until June - so I think my ceiling is really high and I think my best basketball is ahead of me.”
TERENCE LEWIS, NATIONAL CHRISTIAN (MD) 2017 WING
Lewis only played two games but was highly productive, posting averages of 15 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, good enough to lead both categories.
Lewis has several Division II offers but said he’s leaning towards a prep school year, with Massanutten, Fork Union and Hargrave the early leaders.
“I’m a real athletic guard/wing who can shoot the ball well,” he said, “and as you saw in the game we just lost there, I can play defense against shorter guards. I just want to do what I’m capable of doing; if my coach wants me to play defense I’ll play defense, if he wants me to score I’ll score, if he wants me to get deflections - I’ll do whatever it takes to get time on the court.”
DEON SAVAGE, THEODORE ROOSEVELT (DC) 2017 FORWARD
The 6-foot-6 Savage enjoyed one of the most efficient lines of the day, going 8-of-10 from the field while scoring a game-high 19 points in Team Green’s 54-52 win over Team Red.
“I’ve got a few juco’s interested in me,” he said, “and some D-2’s like Virginia Union and Bowie State and like that - just interest, no offers. I’m going to wait to see how it plays out because I know some schools that are still in the season - they are in tournaments, so I guess after that they will get back with me and let me know what they want to do. I’ve got a visit coming up to Francis Marion.”
Savage enjoyed a productive varsity career at Roosevelt, serving as a willing and capable rebounder and defender as a senior for the DCIAA runner-ups. He said he’s working to improve his perimeter game.
JUSTIN FAISON, GWYNN PARK (MD) 2017 GUARD
Key graduation losses after last season left Faison as the focal point at Gwynn Park, and he responded by scoring 23.6 pointer per game - the lone Yellow Jacket to average in double figures.
It was a marked departure from his junior year, where Faison still led the team in scoring (15 points per games) was joined in double-figures by four other players as Gwynn Park made a run to the state semifinals.
“It helped me immensely,” Faison said of workload this year. “It made me have to do pretty much everything: rebound the ball, check the best player, score the ball, get assists. I felt like Russell Westbrook, so it helped me a lot.”
Faison has the ability to fill it up in a hurry on the offensive end, and said he’s working on improving his strength and lateral quickness to be a better defender.
“I’m just playing AAU and looking to see what schools are interested and maybe take visits and play with their teams,” he said. “I’m just working out everyday and getting my body right for whatever happens next year.”
TARIQ JOHNSON, KENT ISLAND (MD) 2017 WING
Johnson has seen his stock shoot through the roof since transferring from Parkdale to Kent Island two years ago, and put up the kind of production that got a few Division I programs to check in.
“It helped me a lot, because during the season I was getting calls from Kansas State - they came out twice to see me workout and practice - West Virginia and a couple of other schools,” he said. “[My strengths are] Just my versatility and being able to play both ends. Being able to score and take control of the game.”
Johnson is still awaiting an official offer and said his future plans are undecided. He said he may play another AAU season with Metro All-Stars.
JADEN FAULKNER, ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (MD) 2018 GUARD
Faulkner found himself thrust into a lead role at Eleanor Roosevelt this year and responded with 12.3 points per game. He often had the ball in his hands when the Raiders needed a key play.
“It helped my character,” he said. “Now I just know that nothing is ever over, ’cause I have to be a leader now and show that we can still win at all times.”
Faulkner - who holds a Division I offer from Central Connecticut State - said he’ll play for either DC Premier or New World this summer as he tried to improve his perimeter and left hand. On Saturday he showed quick hands defensively while trying for the event lead in steals (2.0 per game) and was strong attacking in transition and feeding teammates.
Faulkner is an increasingly-rare a two-sport star, and also serves as the starting quarterback on the Roosevelt football team. He said he hasn’t felt any pressure to specialize.
“My football coach and my basketball coach, they talk to each other a lot, ’cause they know I have to be certain places,” he said, “So they, like, work on it together. I like both [sports] the same amount; I’m going to keep playing both until I feel like I’ve got to stop.”
MORE NOTES: Frederick Douglass-PG (Md.) 2017 guard Donald Carey said he’s working to set up officials visits to James Madison and Radford in the next month. “I’ll take my official visits there and if I like either one of those schools then I’ll commit,” he said, “and if not, I’ll probably go to prep school.” … Capitol Christian (Md.) 2017 guard Alvin Cox said he heard from junior colleges in Florida and Kansas, but is headed to Harcum CC (Pa.). … Washington Adventist offered Douglass-PG (Md.) 2017 guard Demarius Pitts. … Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) 2017 forward Gus Okafor said he’s considering prep school options. … Howard-bound National Christian (Md.) 2017 forward Tyler Williams led the event with 8 blocks (2.7 per game). … High Point point guard commit Denmark Slay II (St. Stephens & St. Agnes 2017) got stronger as the day went on, and drilled a game-winning jumper to lead Team White past Team Blue and into the championship game. He finished with 10.5 points and 3 rebounds per game.