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Cover: The Capital of BasketballTHE CAPITAL OF BASKETBALL

A History of DC Area High School Hoops
John McNamara, with Andrea Chamblee and David Elfin
Foreword by Coach Gary Williams

The celebration of Washington, D.C. basketball is long overdue. D.C. metro area stands second to none in its contributions to the game. Countless figures who have had a significant impact on the sport over the years have roots in the region, including E.B. Henderson, the first African-American certified to teach physical education in public schools in the United States, and Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to take the court in an actual NBA game. The city’s Spingarn High School produced two players – Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing – that are recognized among the NBA’s 50 greatest at the League’s 50th anniversary celebration. No other high school in the country can make that claim.
These figures and many others are chronicled in this book, the first-ever comprehensive look at the great high school players, teams and coaches in the D.C. metropolitan area.
Based on more than 150 interviews, The Capital of Basketball is first and foremost a book about basketball. But in discussing the trends and evolution of the game, McNamara also uncovers the turmoil in the lives of the players and area residents as they dealt with issues such as prejudice, educational inequities, politics, and the ways the area has changed through the years.


John McNamara (@CapitalofBBall) was a staff writer for the Annapolis Capital newspaper. He earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland and spent over 30 years covering local, college, and professional sports. He won several awards from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association for his writing. McNamara was one of five employees of the Annapolis Capital who were gunned down in a mass shooting at the newspaper on June 28, 2018. He was 56 years old.

Andrea Chamblee (@AndreaChamblee), John McNamara’s widow, covered high school basketball for her community paper and attended more than 500 college and high school games in the D.C. metro area often with her husband, the best play by play man she ever met. She has barked from the stands for a switch from zone to back to man-to-man, much to his dismay.

David Elfin (@David Elfin) who has called D.C. home since 1965, has covered local sports for most of the last four decades while writing seven books on Washington sports and serving on the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame selection committee.

Preorder The Capital of Basketball here.

312 pp., 7 x 10
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781626167209 (1626167206)

November 2019
LC: 2019004745

 

One local product staying put, one moving on, another makes history

During the past week, one local basketball product will be staying put, another will be moving on and yet another made a bit of history.

MarcusDerrickson
Bowie native Marcus Derrickson, who played his high school basketball at Paul VI, has announced he’ll leave Georgetown to enter the NBA Draft.

At Notre Dame University, Mike Brey (Bethesda/DeMatha), the winningest coach the program’s history, has signed a contract extension through the 2024-25 season.

The new deal was in recognition of his body of work, even though injuries derailed what could have been a promising season in 2017-18. The Irish wound up in the NIT, rather than the NCAA Tournament, and finished 21-15. Brey, 59, has taken the Irish to 12 NCAA tournaments in 18 seasons.

“My goal has always been to be good enough to retire as the head coach at Notre Dame,” Brey said in a statement. “It sure looks like I might be able to pull that off with this extension. I am truly honored and humbled to be the head coach at the University of Notre Dame. …

“I’m proud of what our program has achieved in the past 18 years and I could not be more excited about what the future holds.”

Brey is 403-201 at Notre Dame, having surpassed Digger Phelps as the school’s all-time leader in victories earlier this season. Brey, who graduated from DeMatha in 1977, has an overall record of 502-252 in 23 seasons as a Division I head coach.

He also enjoyed a successful five-year stint at Delaware (99–51, two NCAA Tournament trips), which landed him the job at Notre Dame. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach to two of the best in the business – Morgan Wootten at DeMatha and Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.

“Mike Brey has built one of the most consistently successful programs in the country,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. “And the foundation of that success is a winning culture that develops the members of his teams as both basketball players and young men. He is a perfect fit for Notre Dame and we are excited to have him lead our program well into the future.”

HOYAS’ DERRICKSON MOVING ON: Georgetown forward Marcus Derrickson (Bowie/Paul VI) announced that he’ll enter the NBA draft and hire an agent after three seasons with the Hoyas.

“I will forego my senior year at Georgetown by entering the draft with plans of signing with an agent,” Derrickson wrote in an Instagram post.

Derrickson averaged 15.9 points and 8.1 rebounds as a junior for the Hoyas and hit 46.5 of his 101 3-point attempts. Derrickson, who averaged 17.2 points in Big Est play, was Georgetown’s second-leading scorer behind center Jessie Govan. Govan also announced he would enter the draft, but will not sign with an agent, leaving the door open to return to the Hoyas next season.

Derrickson’s announcement came as a surprise; several times during the season, the 6-foot-7 forward said he planned to remain in college for his senior season.

Before coming to Georgetown, Derrickson played for one year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire after spending three years at Paul VI High School in Fairfax, Va. He helped lead Paul VI to two Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles.

FULTZ SEEING DOUBLE: Philadelphia 76ers rookie guard Markelle Fultz (Upper Marlboro/DeMatha) finished the NBA regular season with a bang, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.

Fultz had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in 25 minutes after coming off the bench as the Sixers won their 16th straight game, beating Milwaukee in the regular-season finale.

At 19 years and 317 days, Fultz is the first teenager in NBA history to post a triple-double. He’s younger than Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball (20 years, 15 days), who earlier this season took over the claim as the youngest with a triple double. Before Ball, the distinction belonged to Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James (20 years, 20 days).

Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, averaged 7.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists during the regular season. But a lingering shoulder injury kept him on the sidelines for 68 of the Sizers’ 82 regular season games.

In Fultz’ lone college season at the University of Washington, he averaged 23.2 points per game, the highest scoring average in the Pac-12 in 20 years. He also led the team in minutes played (35.7) and assists per game (5.7). He finished second on the team in rebounds per game (5.9).

Forty years ago this week, DeMatha came up with the perfect ending

Forty years ago this week, DeMatha’s basketball team made history.

By that time, Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten had been at the school 20 years and had turned it into the premier high school basketball program in the Washington area, if not the country.

But the Stags had never finished a season unbeaten. That is, not until a 74-64 victory over league rival Mackin in the finals of the Alhambra Invitational Tournament on March 18, 1978.

Wootten art
In 1977-78, DeMatha basketball coach Morgan Wootten directed his first-ever undefeated team.

Continue reading Forty years ago this week, DeMatha came up with the perfect ending

Happy 62nd birthday to DeMatha great Adrian Dantley

Adrian Dantley
While at Dematha, Adrian Dantley was a three-time All-Met selection and helped lead the Stags to four straight No. 1 rankings in the Washington area.

It was a cold winter morning in December of 1969. Schools were on break, with teachers and coaches like DeMatha’s Morgan Wootten happy for a respite from their responsibilities.

This particular morning, Wootten heard a knock on the door of his Hyattsville home. He went to answer it and discovered ninth-grader Adrian Dantley standing on his doorstep. Dantley, then an up-and-coming star for the Stags, wanted to borrow the keys to the DeMatha gym, so he could squeeze in a workout.

Continue reading Happy 62nd birthday to DeMatha great Adrian Dantley

Local product Palmer finds winter in Nebraska to his liking

It’s rare that someone would prefer winter in Lincoln, Nebraska to winter in Miami.

But it worked out for James Palmer, Jr.

Palmerpic
James Palmer, Jr, who played at Henry Wise and St. John’s, is one of the main reasons Nebraska is battling for an NCAA Tournament bid as March approaches

Palmer, an Upper Marlboro native and former standout at St. John’s and Henry A. Wise, started his college career at the University of Miami. The 6-foot-6 wing played sparingly there, averaging about 12 minutes and three points per game for the Hurricanes.

With prospects for playing time looking bleak, Palmer opted to transfer to Nebraska. There, coach Tim Miles has shown a knack for landing transfers from big-time schools like Terran Petteway (Texas Tech), Walter Pitchford (Florida) and Andrew White (Kansas). All flourished at Nebraska and later pursued professional basketball careers of one kind or another.

“Those guys left a trail for me to follow,” Palmer told the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star. “That shows a good example of Nebraska getting good transfer players and really developing them.”

Continue reading Local product Palmer finds winter in Nebraska to his liking

Brey now winningest coach in Notre Dame history

For years, a string of Notre Dame football coaches has tried to duplicate the sustained success of the program’s  glory days.

 

Mike Brey at the ACC Tournament in Feb 2017 (Source: Grant Halverson/Getty Images North America
Mike Brey at the ACC Tournament in Feb 2017. (Source: Grant Halverson/Getty Images North America

Notre Dame’s basketball program, meanwhile, doesn’t have that problem.

Mike Brey has seen to that.

The Bethesda native and former DeMatha point guard, now in his 18th season as head coach of the Irish, became the all-time winningest coach in Notre Dame basketball history on Wednesday night, thanks to an 88-58 victory over North Carolina State. That triumph gave him 394 victories at Notre Dame, pushing him past the 393 wins accumulated by Richard “Digger” Phelps, who coached at the school from 1971-91.

In a nice gesture, Phelps was even on hand in South Bend the other night to hand Brey the game ball after the final buzzer.

Continue reading Brey now winningest coach in Notre Dame history

Memories of ex-DeMatha star Sid Catlett

Sid Catlett, courtesy of DeMatha High School, in about 1965
Sid Catlett, courtesy of DeMatha High School, in about 1965

I didn’t really know Sid Catlett.

But a couple of years ago, I got to spend more than an hour on the phone with him. I’d called him for an interview for something I was working on about D.C. area high school basketball. I’d asked for about 15-20 minutes of his time.

What I got was more than 60 minutes of history, philosophy, reflection, gratitude and thought-provoking observations on learning, life and growing up with the game in Washington, D.C.

Continue reading Memories of ex-DeMatha star Sid Catlett

Williams and Ferry inducted into Washington Metro Hall of Fame

Walt Williams
Walt Williams in 1991

Prince George’s County was well-represented at the Wooden Leadership in Coaching awards dinner Thursday night at the Watergate Hotel in downtown Washington.

Walt Williams (Temple Hills, MD) and Danny Ferry (Bowie, MD) were inducted into the Washington Metropolitan Basketball Hall of Fame.

Both were high school standouts, with Williams playing on Crossland HS team that reached the Class AA state basketball finals three years in a row (1986-88). Ferry, of course, played at storied DeMatha Catholic HS, where the team he played on in his junior year (1983-84) wound up 29-2 and ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today.

Continue reading Williams and Ferry inducted into Washington Metro Hall of Fame

Fultz latest in long line of local products to go high in NBA Draft

DeMatha's Markelle Fultz (pictured) is the fifth D.C.-area player to be taken No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft.
DeMatha’s Markelle Fultz is the fifth D.C.-area player to be taken No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft.

With his selection as the first overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2017 NBA Draft, DeMatha’s Markelle Fultz became the fifth D.C.-area player ever to be taken No. 1 overall.

Several accounts (wrongly) trumpeted the fact that Fultz would be the first local native chosen No. 1 overall since Mackin/Notre Dame star Austin Carr in 1971. But that overlooks Osbourn Park’s David Robinson in 1987.

Continue reading Fultz latest in long line of local products to go high in NBA Draft

50 years ago Carr drives Mackin over DeMatha

Austin Carr headshot

By 1967, legendary coach Morgan Wootten had firmly established DeMatha as the premier high school basketball program in the Washington area.

Taking over the top spot after the Archbishop Carroll dynasty had run its course, the Stags reigned as the best team in the area for the next half-dozen years, and even garnered national attention following their upset of New York’s Power Memorial and superstar Lew Alcindor in 1965.

Austin Carr headshot
Austin Carr

Throughout that period, league rival Mackin also established itself as one of the best programs around. During a five-season run, from 1961-66, the Trojans – then coached by Paul Furlong – ran up a record of 133-33.

That would be an admirable showing against any level of competition. It was even more impressive considering now-closed Mackin competed in the Washington Catholic League against the likes of DeMatha, Carroll and St. John’s. Then, as now, the league featured some of the best high school basketball around.

But as good as Mackin was during that stretch, it could never unseat DeMatha. The Stags won the league title every year from 1961-66 and would win it again every year from 1968-76.

But 50 years ago this week, Mackin was finally able to knock DeMatha from the top of the league standings and the top of the local high school basketball rankings.

DeMatha didn’t lose often. On the rare occasions the Stags did lose, it took an oustanding player, or team, or circumstance to beat them.

In the first week of March in 1967, Mackin had at least two of the three factors in their favor. Star guard Autin Carr scored 21 points (including the 2,000th of his pep career) as Mackin downed DeMatha, 54-48, on the night of March 3, 1967.

It was, by all accounts, the biggest regular-season high school game of the year, and mabe the biggest locally since the DeMatha-Power clash two years before. To accommodate the huge crowd expected, the game was moved to Cole Field House at the University of Maryland, where a throng of 8,500 gathered to watch the show.

They saw a classic. DeMatha led by nine (16-7) early in the game, but the margin remained within three points for much of the game, with neither team able to gain much of an edge. Mackin’s Richie Ford hit a basket early in the fourth quarter to give the Trojans the lead for good at 42-41. The previous three baskets in the game resulted in the lead switching hands – that’s how close it was.

Austin Carr #34 at Notre Dame
Austin Carr at Notre Dame

Carr, who had been hot early, but quiet in the middle, delivered at the end. He sank six consecutive free throws in the last two minutes to clinch the game, the league titles and the area’s No.1 ranking for the Trojans.

Carr was as prolific a scorer as any local high school has ever produced. He went on to an All-American career at Notre Dame and was a first-round draft choice in the NBA. But he had lots of help, too. Mackin had a great distributor and defensive player at the point in Sterling Savoy, a talented big man in 6-foot-8 Garland Williams, and another reliable offensive option in Richie Ford. Carr and Williams earned All-Met recognition in the Washington Star for the 1966-67 season; Carr and Savoy were picked for the Washington Post squad. Ford was chosen for All-Met honors the next season.

It had been a long time coming for Mackin. The Trojans had won the first regular-season game between the two powerful teams a little more than a month before. Carr scored 21 points in that first triumph, including a key three-point play with 2:10 left, to lead Mackin to a 55-49 victory over 2,500 fans at Fort Myer across the river in Virginia.

That victory was Mackin’s first over DeMatha in 10 years. The league title was the school’s first – and only – as a member of the Catholic League/Metro Conference. And, it was the only time DeMatha failed to win the crown in that ultra-competitive league between 1961 and 1976.

After Mackin’s second victory over the Stags in ‘67, Furlong made so secret about what his focus had been that season – and in fact his entire coaching career at Mackin up to that point.

“Trying to reach the level Morgan (Wootten) hs established at DeMatha has helped us,” he said. “DeMatha has pride – they’ve had it for a long time – and now we have it.”