By MARCUS HELTON
BOWIE, MD – Last weekend’s DC Blue Devils DMVelite Spring Warmup provided an early test for many of the area’s top 17U, 16U, 15U and 14U travel programs.
Here’s Part I of our look at some of the weekend’s standouts:
RELATED: NOTEBOOK, PART 2
IMMANUEL QUICKLEY, TEAM BBC 17U
Quickley was the most high-profile player on hand, and although he got a late start in Team BBC’s win over Fairfax Stars on Sunday, his impact on the game was immediate the second he finished stretching and stepped on the floor.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder from John Carroll knocked down a 3 seconds after entering and then went to work setting up teammates en route to a 56-42 victory. It was the new Team BBC 17U’s first
“I feel we’re good, we just need time to get better,” Quickley said. “We have a lot of talent from around the area and also Virginia and DC, so I think we’ll be good as a team.”
The top-ranked point guard in the Class of 2018, Quickley recently cut his list of potential colleges to seven: Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Providence and Virginia.
“I’m just going to play it by ear,” he said of his timetable. “When I get a feeling that I want to cut it down maybe one more time or take an official, I’ll let everybody know.”
With his college options narrowing, Quickley said he’s focusing primarily on team goals this spring and summer.
“[I want to] Pretty much just continue to work on my game,” he said, “but we’ve got a couple of young guys so I’m helping them get better and get ready for next year as well. It’s not just about me; we’re just trying to win a championship and get better.”
MONTEZ MATHIS, TEAM BBC 17U
After a year away at Oak Hill Academy, Mathis returned to the area last year and re-established himself as a top prospect with a strong junior season at John Carroll.
“It helped me a lot,” he said. “At John Carroll there were just a lot of people around me helping me be better as a person and a player. It helped my growth, it helped my confidence a lot, and I learned to be a better teammate when things weren’t going right. It really helped a lot.”
Mathis’ talents were on display in Team BBC’s win over Fairfax Stars, as he used his strength and athleticism to go over and around defenders while posting 14 points. He excels at getting to the basket and rebounding, and he’s made noticeable strides as a shooter in the past year, knocking down open jumpers with more consistency.
“I shoot every day after school,” he said. “I work out every day and I just work on shooting techniques and stuff like that, and I guess it’s been paying off.”
The 6-4, 195-pound Mathis holds offers from Alabama-Birmingham, Memphis, Minnesota, North Carolina State, St. John’s, Southern California, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. He said he’ll wait until after the summer before determining whether to cut that list down.
SHERIF KENNEY, NEW WORLD DC 17U
There are few opposing guards physically capable of keeping the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Kenney from getting where he wants, when he wants – particularly when that’s going to the basket.
Kenney went for 18 points in a win over Team Takeover Grey, powering his way to the paint - and the free throw line - while also knocking down a pair of 3-pointers. While he excelled at driving, he also did a good job of kicking out to open teammates and finding cutters.
The 2019 Kenney - who listed offers from Kansas State, Penn State and South Florida - credited his transfer from Bishop O’Connell (Va.) to Rock Creek Christian (Md.) last summer with helping him to mature. He averaged a team-high 14 points per game for the Eagles, who won the Capital Beltway regular-season title.
“I think I got better as a person more than a player,” he said. “My coaches are getting on me now about leading the team more and making others better.”
Kenney said he hopes to gain more consistency on his jumper this summer, as well as strengthen his one-dribble pull-up.
QUENTIN MILLORA-BROWN, NEW WORLD 17U
The Bishop O’Connell (Va.) big man saw his recruitment begin to take off last summer with New World, and is sure so see it reach another level this year.
“I really want to improve my post game and become a dominant force inside this summer,” he said. “I’m looking to sprint ahead every time. Work on my athleticism and getting up on the rim out ahead of everyone.”
The 6-foot-9, 210 pounder combines good size and length with solid footwork and athleticism, and displayed an improved feel for knowing when he had a mismatch.
“I think this past season helped improve my confidence a lot in working inside the post,” he said, “because getting it inside and working against WCAC bigs is a really good way to improve myself.”
Millora-Brown currently holds scholarship offers from Mount St. Mary’s, Rice and Towson.
GIBSON JIMERSON, DC BLUE DEVILS 16U/17U
A 2018 guard from Benedictine (Va.), Jimerson had a busy weekend, appearing in four games while pulling double-duty with the Blue Devils’ 16U and 17U teams.
He stood out in all four, showing consistent inside-outside scoring ability and a nice feel for the game. He scored double-figures in every game, highlighted by a 26-point outing against Team BBC’s 16U.
“I’m just trying to increase my confidence in what I can do, win games, help my recruitment along and just get better – just keep improving,” Jimerson said.
Jimerson listed interest from Creighton, Davidson, Richmond and Virginia Tech.
HERU BLIGEN, DC BLUE DEVILS 16U
Bligen (St. Andrews Episcopal 2019) began emerging as a D-I prospect around this team last year, earning his first offer from Navy over the summer. He’s since added one from UMBC, and also listed interest from Mount St. Mary’s and Richmond.
“I’m trying to be a versatile point guard, getting everybody involved and knowing where people want the ball in their spots,” he said. “And also picking my defense up and bringing energy to the team.”
The 6-1, 165 pounder looked good both on and off the ball, showing a good understanding of spacing and when to attack.
“I think I can get to the basket any time I want and break my man down,” he said. “I have a nice little mid-range. I like to get people involved.”
WAYNE BRISTOL JR., TEAM TAKEOVER ORANGE 17U
The Riverdale Baptist 2018 guard looked good slicing to the basket, displaying a quick first step that kept defenders reaching all weekend.
“I’m just working on getting better every single day,” he said. “Coach [Darryl] Prue and all of the coaches have pushing us really hard to get ready for this upcoming circuit, so I think it’s going to be a good one.”
At 6-6, 190, Bristol already has good size, and it playing with confidence after a solid junior season at Riverdale.
“It helped me a lot,” he said. “We have a great coaching system and they helped me a lot and pushed me to get better every practice.”
COREY DYCHES, TEAM DURANT 15U
Collectively, Team Durant 15U impressed with its relentless energy, but Dyches may have made the strongest impression.
The Potomac (Md.) 2020 guard Dyches was nearly unguardable in a win over DC Blue Devils, attacking the basket at will while posting 14 points in a comeback victory.
“We knew we had to come out strong,” he said. “I did what I had to do and my team had a good game and we fought back. It was close, but we pulled it out.”
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Dyches is already battle-tested, having played major minutes on Potomac’s 3A state runner-up team this past season alongside his older brother, 6-foot-8 senior forward Christian Dyches.
“Playing against older people helped me get stronger mentally and physically,” Dorey Dyches said.
Athleticism is Dyches’ strength, and he said he’s working to become a more consistent shooter.
“I like winning games,” he said. “So my team, we’ve just got to play hard. That’s what it’s about – playing hard – and if we play hard we’re most likely going to win, ’cause we’ve got the talent.”
WILL BOUNDS, TEAM TAKEOVER GREY 17U
A 2018 6-foot-7, 196-pounder from Battlefield (Va.), Bounds impressed with his range, displaying a nice 3-point stroke while staying active on both the offensive and defensive boards.
“I’m a taller guy who can get boards and also stretch out to 3,” he said. “I can pass well, defend decent, and just use my length to my advantage.”
Bounds said Bucknell, Lafayette, William & Mary and several Division II schools have shown interest. He’s hoping his first year with Takeover and coach Dennis Marshall - he split time between Erick Green Premier and Team Flight last year - will help attract more attention.
“He’s tough,” Bounds said of Marshall. “He works you and pushes you, so that’s going to help me for sure.”