Playing alongside some of the country's top college basketball recruits can be quite a daunting task and Springbrook High School senior Andrew Robinson said he felt pressure early in Saturday night's Capital Classic showcase game held at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria to match up to his Capital All-Stars teammates and U.S. All-Stars opponents. Though it took one quarter, a 3-pointer made early in the second quarter helped get him get started, said Robinson, who plans to spend next year at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut.
“As soon as I saw that first shot go down, I started to realize I can play with these guys, so I started to feel better,” Robinson said. “It felt great to be selected to play and I just wanted to represent Montgomery County and the [Washington, D.C. area] well and show we can play with the best of them.”
Robinson, who received interest from several NCAA Division I programs but opted for a year of prep school so he and his twin brother Aaron could try and find an opportunity to play at the same school, went on to convert a team-high 5 of 7 3-pointers and 6 of 10 from two-point range, to finish second on his team with 17 points; Riverdale Baptist's Chinanu Onuaku (Louisville recruit) led the Capital All-Stars with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
“I thought he played very well, he is one of the better shooters out here,” said Walt Whitman coach Chris Lun, who was selected to lead the Capital All-Stars. “We talked before the game, we joked, I was like, 'You've got to represent Montgomery County,' and I think he did a fantastic job of doing that.”
The Capital Classic is the longest running high school basketball all-star game in the country, according to its website. Started in 1974, it has provided some of the country's best athletes and opportunity to showcase their talent; the list of alumni include, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Jason Kidd, among a plethora of other NBA stars.
The area-based Capital All-Stars, which also featured Prince George's County's Onuaku's Riverdale Baptist teammate Alex Long — Potomac senior and University of Maryland recruit Dion Wiley was on the roster but was not in attendance Saturday — lost a late-game lead and ultimately fell, 139-135. It marked the U.S. All-Stars' second straight victory after four consecutive wins for the area team.
“It's an all star game, I know the guys in the end wanted to pull it out but we got a little sloppy there at the end of the game,” Lun said. “Our main goal was just to come out, have fun and give these guys equal minutes. ...It's awesome to be able to watch [players of that level]. Being so up close to it and seeing the things they can do and the athleticism and quickness and confidence, it's cool to see it up close and it's something I'll always remember.”
While Saturday's game was partially about putting on a show, for spectators and college coaches hoping to snag a few of the undecided players, alike — Lun said the game can be a great springboard for athletes — players also had to balance their highlight reel plays with teamwork, something Lun said the Capital All-Stars were able to do quite well.
Onuaku and Long (15 points) made for quite a formidable duo in the paint while Robinson provided strength around the perimeter. Lun said he was also impressed with Coolidge High's inside-outside threat Jamall Gregory's tremendous athleticism.
Each member of the Washington team was pushed by his teammates, Lun said, which made for some high quality ball in a game that could've been solely about flash.
“[Onuaku and Long] have just monster size, the length and their wingspan, it's cool to see them up close, man are they some players,” Lun said. “It's cool to be around them for one night. ...All these guys play against each other in AAU, they all know they're great players and being out there with other great players, you want to play hard and look good in front of each other.”
The first game of the day, won by the Metro North All-Stars 109-106 against the South All-Stars, also featured several players from Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Henry A. Wise's Micah Till led the North team with 21 points, followed by James H. Blake's Demonte Ojinnaka (17 points) and Clarksburg's Xavier Sewell (16). Clinton Christian's Byron Hawkins, playing for the South team, led all scorers with 29 points. Capitol Christian's Marcquise Reed added 23 points.
Capital All-Star scoring leaders — Chinanu Onuaku (Riverdale Baptist) 21, Andrew Robinson (Springbrook) 17, Morgan Dwayne (St. Frances Academy) 15, Alex Long (Riverdale Baptist) 15, Jamall Gregory (Coolidge) 14, Melo Trimble (Bishop O'Connell) 14, James Palmer (St. John's College High School) 12.