G. Brayon Freeman, O’Connell
G. Trevor Keels, Paul VI
F. Avery Ford, Paul VI
G. Darius Johnson, Episcopal
G. Andre Speight, South County
Chris Kuzemka, Centreville; Max Jannes, Heritage; Manny Ojo, Osbourn; Anthony Jackson, Potomac; Wes Peterson, O’Connell; Jack Taylor, Marshall; Duro Segun, Virginia Academy
Northern Virginia schools got some amazing contributions from sophomores this year. Many of these guys made an impact last year as well, but this year they took their games to an entirely new level. Despite playing alongside impact seniors, these guys were often able to carry their respective teams on their shoulders.
Brayon Freeman of O’Connell had a very good season for the Knights. The point guard was dynamic on offense, averaging well into double figures and doing it both on the drive and from outside. This is a guy you want the ball with in the clutch–he has a knack for making difficult shots. We like the way he attacks the glass for a “little” guy as well. Freeman already has several DI offers and should continue to get better.
Trevor Keels of Paul VI was highly regarded last season. He turned into an absolute wrecking ball this year. Keels averaged around 17 points a game and was voted co-Player of the Year in the WCAC. With great size for a wing and amazing strength and athleticism, Keels could play Division I right now. As if that wasn’t hard enough to deal with, the guy can shoot. Keels hit four threes in a game three times–against DeMatha, Gonzaga, and O’Connell.
With impressive guards like Keels and freshman Dug McDaniel garnering headlines for the Panthers, we feel Avery Ford was somewhat underrated for Paul VI this year. The forward was content to do the dirty work for PVI, making defense and rebounding his first priority. Every team needs one of those guys, and Ford more often than naught got the job done, especially on the glass. Then, at the Alhambra Tournament last month, Ford scored 31 in a win over Gonzaga, including six threes. Just another PVI guy that can step up center stage as needed…
Speaking of underrated, maybe people better realize just how good Darius Johnson of Episcopal is. Johnson averaged around 17 a game this year teaming with brother Xavier to provide the Maroon a potent 1-2 scoring punch. Johnson is very strong and a good ball-handler, able to play the point or off the ball just as easily. In Episcopal’s run to the final of the VISAA Tournament Johnson proved unstoppable at times, such as when he scored 18 second half points in an upset win over Paul VI. Already offered by GMU where brother Xavier is going, expect this guy to attract increased DI attention very soon.
Andre Speight of South County is our final “starter.” South County had a great year in no small part to Speight and fellow soph Trenton Picott. As the season wore on South County coach Mike Robinson seemed to want the ball in the pair’s hands more and more in the clutch. Speight, a talented wing, often delivered when it counted most, such as when he scored a team-high 25 points against Patriot in the state tournament.
“Dre is a kid who just scratched the surface last year, as the season went on he had some big games for us. The bigger the game was towards the end of the year the better he played; he is a big-time talent with a drive to get better each day. We expect big things from him going forward.”
–South County coach Mike Robinson
Our “reserves” bring a lot to the table. Max Jannes of Heritage had another great season for the Pride. Jannes, respected around the region in no small part due to his picture-perfect jump shot, was the only underclassman selected to the all-Dulles District team. Jannes gained strength and improved his ability to get to the rim from either side. He has a chance to really put up some impressive career numbers at Heritage–in more than one sport, incidentally.
Wes Peterson of O’Connell has impressive size for a wing at 6’5″. He’s got a chance to be a star. 2018-2019 saw lots of improvement for him, especially in the second half of the season. Right now he’s most dangerous on the break, where he can use his length to attack the rim from places you wouldn’t think a sophomore would be able to attack the rim at. He does everything fairly well though, and if his shooting continues to improve Peterson will do great things.
Centreville combo guard Chris Kuzemka had a lot of people talking early this year. A PVI transfer, Kuzemka teamed with Bryce Douglas to form a formidable one-two punch. Kuzemka averaged around 15 points a game, scoring 32 for the Cats as Centreville defeated Liberty in the Joe Cascio Tournament title game in December. What makes him especially dangerous is his high motor–he seems to be constantly in motion and is adept at keeping defenders off balance.
Manny Ojo of Osbourn gives us impressive depth at point guard. Like everybody on Rocky Carter’s team Ojo values defense first. Ojo has great side-to-side foot speed and gets a lot of steals. A first-team all-Cedar Run selection, Ojo also scored when his team needed him to. When he got hot from three-point range opponents suffered greatly. He hit five in a win over Osbourn Park and four in a win over Freedom-Woodbridge.
Anthony Jackson of Potomac followed up a strong freshman campaign with an even stronger one as the guard was named first team, all-Cardinal District. Jackson did a ton of damage on offense from beyond the arc, impressively averaging over two made threes a game for the Panthers. A smart player, Jackson improved noticeably on defense as well. Part of a strong sophomore class at Potomac, Jackson figures to be a leader on the court next year for Keith Honore’s deep team.
Jack Taylor of Marshall might be a perfect guy to come off the bench for this team. Daniel Deaver rightly claimed a ton of accolades leading Marshall this year, but Taylor quietly had an amazing season taking some pressure off the big man. Taylor had some fantastic offensive games, including six three-pointers and 31 points against Falls Church and 22 points in a first round regional win over Osbourn Park. Adept at finding an open spot on the court and a hard worker, Taylor will get a chance to create even more offense for the Statesmen next season.
Duro Segun of Virginia Academy claims our final spot on the sophomore roster, in no small part because it’s always hard to pass up a guy standing close to seven feet tall. After showing the raw goods as a freshman Segun took another step in 2018-2019, refining his offensive game further. Right now defense remains his calling card as Segun is capable of protecting the hoop with his athleticism and length.
Honorable Mention is stacked as this a deep, deep class. Schools like Rock Ridge (Greg Spurlock, Sam Larsen, Evan Fitch) and Christ Chapel (Jevon Wilson, Aaron Cavezza) were in no small part powered by talented sophomore classes.
Courtenay Houston (Hylton), Luke Triggs (Battlefield), Shane Feden (Woodbridge), Sam Carpenter (Edison), Ilias Hwang (Marshall), Trenton Picott (South County), Abora Kwarteng (Mount Vernon), Jokobi Rogers (Mount Vernon), Tekao Carpenter (T.C. Williams), Matthew Lauture (South Lakes), Clark Castleberry (South Lakes), Adam Demba (Washington-Lee), Davion Owens (Washington-Lee), Steven Lincoln (Yorktown), Donavan Fleming (Herndon), Nate Legg (McLean), Luke Titus (Chantilly), Trent Reimonenq (Westfield), Ke’Jahn Rainey (Potomac), Caleb Satchell (Potomac), Tyrell Harris (Potomac), Lawrence Applewhite (Potomac), Marcus Young Jr. (Gar-Field), Tyler Smith (Forest Park), Kenneth Clark (Forest Park), Evan Reed (Forest Park), Devonte Boyd (Freedom-Woodbridge), Frank Brown (Colgan), Ta’Zir Smith (Colgan), Noah Wheatley (Colgan), Ellis Nayeri (Patriot), Josh Newland (Osbourn), Brett Laster (Battlefield), Tristen Olds (Battlefield), Robert Asel (George Mason), Deven Martino (George Mason), Ryan Fletchall (George Mason), Bryson Boots (Manassas Park), Cameron Dixon (Manassas Park), Brandon Forst (Brentsville), Jack Jensen (W.T. Woodson), Jaheim Brown (W.T. Woodson), Ben LaJoie (Robinson), Austin Ohlmeyer (West Springfield), Cooper Gillie (Briar Woods), Dominic Meyers (Briar Woods), Sam Larsen (Rock Ridge), Evan Fitch (Rock Ridge), Gregory Spurlock (Rock Ridge), Coby Oxendine (Champe), Alexander Brown (Champe), Jack Clark (Tuscarora), Jack Dewey (Woodgrove), Michael Ziller (Riverside), Caleb Rexroad (Loudoun County), Justin Mann (Dominion), Ariel Goddot (Bishop Ireton), Roderick James (Bishop Ireton), Sage Uwemedimo (Bishop Ireton), Bryce Steele (Episcopal), Jevon Wilson (Christ Chapel), Aaron Cavezza (Christ Chapel), Cephus Wilson-Bauhn (John Paul the Great), Jiann Sehhat (Langley), Cole Withers (Langley)