It was DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville last weekend that played host to the top basketball talent the area could offer with the National High School Hoops Festival. This weekend, Henry A. Wise took over host duties, bringing in 12 teams from North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland to play basketball from noon on Saturday to nearly midnight in the DMV Tip-off Classic.
In a slight twist from Dec. 8, which featured a number of appealing matchups between some of the nation's top-ranked big men (North Carolina State recruit BeeJay Anya vs. North Carolina recruit Kennedy Meeks and the country's No. 1 recruit Andrew Wiggins vs. North Carolina A&T recruit Khary Doby), Saturday was a high-speed display of a few of the East Coast's top backcourts.
The 3:30 p.m. matchup — the third game of the day — was especially attractive for locals as it featured recent University of Maryland signee Roddy Peters and his battle with Virginia Commonwealth recruit and St. John's College High School's leading scorer, Tre Campbell.
“I used to play against him when I was younger, when I was about nine,” Peters said. “So I haven't played him in a long time. But he can shoot the ball good.”
No question about that. Campbell, named the game's Most Valuable Player, finished with a game-high 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting, six of which were 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Peters, who will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum on Dec. 21, totaled 19 despite shooting just 34.6 percent from the field.
“When I get off the surgery, that's the first thing I'm going to start working on,” Peters said. “I'm going to get a jumper.”
But as for playmaking ability, Peters, even considering his off shooting performance, is, in the words of Suitland coach George McClure, one of the top four guards in the country.
“When Roddy Peters is fully healthy,” he said. “I challenge anybody to find four guards in the country better than him. In the country.”
His strength, combined with a deadly-quick first step, is a nightmare for defenses. The 6-foot-4 senior can create his shot from anywhere on the court, whether it be at the rim — he had two dunks — or a mid-range pull-up jumper where the majority of his points came from on Saturday.
Campbell, who is three inches shorter and significantly lighter than Peters, relies much more on his teammates setting him up than his public school counterpart. He runs defenders through dizzying mazes of screens to get himself open for passes, which he converted into field goals at an alarming rate in the win on Saturday.
“Tre is all that he's hyped up to be,” McClure said. “I've always read about him, he's just a heck of a player. … Sometimes I just wish I could be a fan and watch two great players going at it.”
The second, and crowd favorite, matchup of the evening came during the 7 p.m. game between Princeton Day Academy's Aquille Carr, a Seton Hall recruit, and Riverdale Baptist's Nigel Johnson, a George Washington recruit.
Carr's ability to draw a crowd is well-documented. He was bestowed with the nickname, “Crimestopper,” because crime supposedly stops when he's on the court. Everybody is in the gymnasium watching him play.
Johnson's effect isn't quite as famous, but the senior averaged nearly 30 points per game last season for Broad Run and he got DeMatha's Morgan and Kathy Wootten Gymnasium rocking last weekend when he crammed a vicious dunk over Huntington Prep's Patrick Strake.
And, for a moment, it looked like the clash between the two would live up to the hype. Johnson hit a 3-pointer midway through the first quarter and Carr, who stands at 5-foot-7, was beginning his knifing acrobatics through the lane. But Johnson's shots weren't falling, a possible sign of fatigue from playing earlier in the day in the DMV Elite Holiday Classic at Trinity against Christian Faith Center. So, the night and show undoubtedly belonged to Carr.
He finished with 25 points — 13 of which came from the free throw line — compared to Johnson's seven and Princeton Day topped Riverdale 65-62.
“I don't really worry about who's on the other squad,” Carr said. “He's a good player though. He played good. … He's a great guard.”
In the 5:15 p.m. game, Frederick Douglass' Saquan Epps-Walker was named MVP after scoring 14 in a 56-54 win over Wise. In the final game of the evening, a 60-57 DeMatha win over North Point, VCU recruit Jairus Lyles took the honors.
He was the fourth straight guard earn the award.