The 44th annual Capital Classic at Verizon Center on Saturday wasn’t exactly perfect.
But Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree was.
The 6-foot-8 Villanova recruit out of Philadelphia’s Neumann Goretti High School scored 18 points and didn’t miss a shot as the United States All-Stars prevailed over the Capital All-Stars, 113-101.
“I got a lot of dunks,” Cosby-Roundtree said. “I was just trying to do whatever I could to help get the lead up.”
Cosby-Roundtree also grabbed four rebounds and blocked three shots in an efficient 20-minute effort. He was named the U.S. team’s Most Valuable Player for his performance.
“Being a shot-blocker and rebounder, I can bring my defensive presence and make my mark defensively” at Villanova, he said.
Another Villanova recruit, guard Collin Gillespie, led all players with eight assists in the game, which was really more of a showcase than a typical matchup between two teams.
The two squads combined for 131 points in the second half, 71 of them by the U.S. team, which was enough to secure the victory. For much of the afternoon, but especially in the second half, defense wasn’t much more than a rumor.
Brandon Randolph, a 6-foot-6 Arizona-bound wing guard, led the U.S. team with 22 points. Bourama Sidebe, a 6-foot-10 Syracuse recruit, added 15 points, while Minnesota-bound guard Isaiah Washington contributed 13.
Darryl Morsell of Baltimore’s Mount St. Joseph High School was also in double figures with 10 points. The 6-foot-5 Morsell, a wing guard, is Maryland’s top recruit for next season. Morsell also had five rebounds, three assists and three steals in a brief appearance.
Maryland’s other top recruit in the game, 6-foot-11 Bruno Fernando of the IMG Academy in Montverde, Florida, did not play at all because of a minor knee injury suffered in practice on Friday.
Maret’s 6-foot-10 Luka Garza was named the MVP for the locals. The Iowa-bound center led the Capital All-Stars with 18 points on an 8-for-16 shooting performance. He also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
“My mindset every time I lace ‘em up is to just play as hard as I can,” Garza said. “Obviously, the shooting wasn’t great out there, so there were a lot of offensive rebounds. So I just tried to attack the glass as hard as I could. There aren’t that many post-ups in an event like this, so you’ve got to get to the glass.”
With the Washington Wizards scheduled to take to the Verizon Center court against the Miami Heat just a few hours after the Capital Classic concluded, the only 3-point line on the court was the one used by the pros. At 23 feet, 9 inches from the basket in some places, that’s four feet further away than the high-school 3-point line.
The difference quickly became apparent. The two teams combined to make just one of their 24 first-half 3-point attempts, which left lots of rebounds – offensive and defensive – for someone like Garza to gobble up.
“It made a huge difference,” said Garza, who was coached at Maret by Chuck Driesell, son of longtime Maryland coach Lefty Driesell. “These guys aren’t used to that (distance). I think that kind of affected (the shooting). No way these guys are going to shoot 1 for 24 in a half. We’re in this event because we can shoot.”
O’Connell’s 6-foot-9 Nate Watson added 14 points and six rebounds for the locals. He’s headed to Providence next season. Deion Hammond (Riverdale Baptist/Monmouth), Aaron Thompson (Paul VI/Pittsburgh) and Anthony Duruji (St. Andrew’s/Louisiana Tech) added 10 points each.
The game returned to Verizon Center after an absence of more than a decade. The last time the game was played there was in 2003, when Lebron James played in the game as a high-schooler.
The game between a team of national high school all-stars and a team of local prep stars began in 1974 at the old Capital Center in Largo, Maryland, when the late Hall-of-Famer Moses Malone participated. Over the years, players like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Paul and Klay Thompson have played in the game.
At various times, the game has been played at Cole Field House, American University’s Bender Area, Catholic University’s Dufour Center and T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia.