Wilson High School will be the hunted as the reigning DCIAA Champions
Roosevelt will look to overcome losses in 2017-18 season
Roosevelt finished second in the DCIAA conference last season, losing a lopsided contest in the championship game to Wilson, 57-38.
They were without their leading scorer, who had to transfer before the year started due to his family moving. The next man up, Leon Gray, chose to forego basketball and only play football. Senior point guard Derrick Brown went down with a concussion in the title game.
Roosevelt head coach Rob Nickens is no stranger to adversity and losses.
This season, Nickens will have to be resourceful again as he must withstand more major losses. Donald Brewer (First Team All-DCIAA) Deon Savage (Second Team All-DCIAA) and Brown are all gone to graduation.
Assisting in the patchwork efforts will be transfer guard Marcus Dockery (Bishop Ireton) who Nickens refers to as “one of the strongest point guards” he’s had in his program. The 6-0 sophomore will be relied upon to be a “big-time” scorer for the Rough Riders.
The team will feature a six-guard rotation featuring sophomore Darius Miles, who is getting more D-1 attention now that he experienced a four-inch growth spurt over the summer, going from 6-1 to 6-5.
Relying on guards will consequently make Nickens’ team small, something he says will help with “92 feet of pressure” but will leave the team vulnerable in other areas.
“We have to practice team rebounding,” Nickens said. “We’ll have to rebound by committee.”
As for the wings, Gray will be back in the fold for his junior season and be a crucial component of the rebounding task force. Helping him down low will be fellow juniors Darius Buchanan and Alvin Judd.
Nickens has been to seven of the last nine DCIAA championships and expects nothing short of another title run despite having to deal with more losses.
Wilson looks to repeat behind DCIAA Coach of the Year Hernandez
Wilson, led by DCIAA Coach of the Year Angelo Hernandez, will look to repeat as conference champs after a 29-4 season last year. They’ll be without their leading scorer, Isaiah Jennings, who graduated.
The team will have Ricardo Lindo and Ayinde Hakim who both made First Team All-DCIAA last season. Hakim will look to take over the scoring load. He averaged 13 points a contest including a season-high 27 against Campbell last December. Hakim will also set up the offense again this year and look to build off a productive season at point as he led the team in assists.
They also add Jay Heath and Dimingus Stevens who transfer from Bishop O’Connell.
Expect another deep run from the Tigers this season.
Woodson looks to find themselves and overcome major loses
It was somewhat of a disappointing 2017-18 season for Woodson (19-10, 11-2), finishing third in the conference after many picked them to finish on top. However, due to a number of issues, specifically, keeping players elgible, the tumultuous season ended with Woodson forfeiting in the DCSAA tournament.
Kiyon Boyd was impressive despite the adversity, well on his way to being named DCIAA Player of the Year. The 6-foot-5 senior wing announced during the summer that he would take his 22 points per game, and transfer to Massanutten Military Academy for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, Boyd partially tore his ACL during a recent workout and him suiting up this season is in doubt. Point guard Derquan Washington, who was the second-leading scorer including five games with 30 points or more culminating with a 41 point performance against Anacostia, also is no longer with the team.
Head Coach Trey Mines also announced during the summer that he will not return as coach. The losses are major and puts Woodson program in a bind.
Dunbar looking to lean on returning seniors
Dunbar High will boast an experienced team come winter, as they return four players from last season’s 17-10 team that will now provide senior leadership.
The top senior will be Rasheed Gatling who was selected to the All DCIAA Second Team and led the Crimson Tide with 14 points and 2.5 steals per game. At 5-8, 150 pounds, the diminutive guard has a lot of pressure on his shoulders this year and his coach is sure to let him know how high expectations are.
“[Rasheed] has to be more of a leader,” Dunbar head coach Damon Singletary said. “He averaged five assists last season, this year he needs to average eight or nine.”
Helping Gatling with scoring will be a slew of guards including fellow seniors Cole Phaire (11.0 ppg) and Ahmad McKeithan (10.5 ppg). They will be instrumental in a revamped offense that looks to use speed, quickness and full-court pressure to rev up the game and as Singletary hopes, increase their point total per game to about 75-80 as opposed to the low 60’s they averaged last season.
Mitchell Eason is another senior guard that is expected to be an impact player, but not necessarily on the offensive side. Eason, at 6-1, led the entire DMV area with 107 blocks last year, averaging over five a game.
Singletary is hopeful that this mix of senior leadership will translate into more wins, especially the close games that they let “slip away.”
He also mentioned the coaching staff needing to do a better job at teaching the rudimentary elements of the game, which he feels has not been adequately done in the last few years around the country.
“As our coaching staff prepares for the upcoming season, we are committed to breaking the kids’ games down and teaching them the fundamentals of basketball from the ground up,” he said.
The team looks to get better at boxing out and increasing their free throw percentage where they shot just 55 percent from the line.
The Panthers are coming off a 17-10 season including a 10-3 record in the DCIAA. They’ll head into 2018 without leading scorer from last year, senior Donnie Brooks. Sophomore Illjah Gregory was the second-leading scorer as a freshman with 13 points per game. He’ll look to lead the team after Brooks’ departure.
Juniors Marcus Gorham Keith Jackson return and look to help Gregory this season as the team looks to rise the conference ranks.
McKinley Tech will be looking to build on a winning season after going 14-8 last year.
They relied on youth and their top three scorers were all sophomores. Juniors Tervondre Williams and Atwood Newton led the pack with 12 points per game. They’re a small bunch and diminutive junior guard Daniel Allen exemplifies that. At 5-5, 130 pounds, he was third in scoring on the team, reaching double digits in over half of games last year.
Atwood, one of the tallest of the group at 6-6, was the team’s leading rebounder and will be the go-to player in the paint this season.
Departing senior Jerome Johnson was everything for Eastern last season. He made Second Team All-DCIAA leading his team to a 7-6 record in the conference.
This year, another Johnson will look to lead the Ramblers. Senior guard Deveon Johnson is the group’s leading returning scorer and assist man. He’ll look to improve his scoring this year for head coach Emanuel “Coach K” Kakulu as they look to compete in the conference.
Head coach Roderick Moore is in his second season after going 7-11 in his first year.
He’ll have a big challenge this season as his squad will be virtually brand new, with senior guard Victor Rose-Smith the only player returning. Rose-smith was seconding in rebounding and will have to contribute
Moore will rely heavily on defense as the team will need to replace the scoring output of guard Deonte Herdon who averaged nearly 20 points a game as a senior last year.
The team is looking to bounce back after a 5-15 season. They’ll have to do so without leading scorer Keith Bullock who also led last year’s group in assists.
Junior wing Azrio Harding returns as the team’s leading rebounder.
After a tough season, winning only one conference game, Bell looks to improve. The top two scorers return. Seniors Zyierre Smith (12.5ppg) and Mikail Scott (11.4ppg) look to lead the team to more wins this year.
Will Wilson repeat as DCIAA Champions? Stay Tuned