We knew Montrose Christian was loaded but on Friday Stu Vetter's team had an extra player doing drills and he was far and away the best prospect in the gym. He's only 19 but won't have any eligibility and can't lace them up for Vetter. Nope, you've got to pay to see this guy play. His name? Kevin Durant.
"Rick Barnes is downstairs have you seen him yet," Vetter asked me as we chatted before workouts. A few minutes later we walked downstairs and a certain 6-foot-10 former Longhorn and current Seattle Supersonic was holding court. Coach Vetter played it straight and didn't mention the lottery pick that would be working out with his kids, a special treat when you've driven four hours through D.C. traffic.
Durant, a Montrose graduate, worked out with his former team a few times last week. "I'm just trying to give back and try and help these guys out as much as possible," Durant said. "Seeing me being on the college level and making it to where they want to be may be an inspiration. I'm just a regular dude."
Durant blended in like he was still enrolled in the school and was more than willing to spread the basketball around. The lotto pick found out quickly that he would have many weapons to pick from. The four top prospects on the team are underclassmen and this club's strength is in the frontcourt where it goes 6-foot-7, 6-7, 6-6, 6-10 and 6-11.
With Barnes and assistant Russell Springman on hand plus Rhode Island's Kevin Clarke, the kids at Montrose were put through paces and then allowed to scrimmage. "Everyone on the floor is a Division I player," Vetter said. He wasn't kidding.
The Class of 2009 – especially in the frontcourt – is the focal point of the team. Three highly regarded forwards comprise one of the strongest units in high school basketball. Isaiah Armwood, a 6-foot-7 athlete with burgeoning skills is the highest-profile player. Villanova, Louisville, Texas and Maryland are on him strong.
Ask any of the staffers and they're in agreement that Terrell Vinson is the most fundamentally sound forward of the trio. A hand injury kept him off the circuit in July and he'll be looking to make up for lost time. The Terps, Horns and Wildcats plus Villanova, Georgetown, North Carolina and Duke are tagging him.
Tristin Spurlock is the jack-of-all-trades forward of the group. He'll play his area, clean up the mess inside and was even making trifectas during pick up ball. Virginia is all over him with Georgetown, Maryland, Texas, Florida State, Wake Forest, UNC and North Carolina State showing interest.
Spurlock, Armwood and Vinson are each 6-6 or taller. They, however, aren't in the ballpark of Temidayo Adebayo and Brian O'Kam. Vetter's Nigerian centers go 6-11 and 6-10, respectively. Adebayo reminds us of former Oak Hill turned SMU standout Bamba Fall. O'Kam, only a junior, is the most rugged insider on the roster.
Looking for an early pick for 2009 sleeper of the season? Try Dominic Milburn. Last year he was St. John's College's Chris Wright's backup. This year we'd expect him to assume controls of the Montrose machine. At 6-4 he's big, can drive and knock down shots. He's definitely another national name to add to the 2009 guard list.
Kevon Moore, also a recent transfer into the program, is the sniper on the wing who will benefit the most from all the size in the paint. The lefty, a mid-major recruit, is likely to have plenty of looks from behind the line. With a drive and pitch guy in Milburn and kids who can pass in the frontcourt he's going to get a bunch of quality catches.
Senior Brandon Rascoe is going to be a Division I player. The lefty will get a lot of time on the wing with his stroke and the size of the frontcourt. He'll stick his nose in there and board too.
A bevy of young kids wait in the wings. Freshman guard Tyler Hubbard could be in the mix later in the year but he'll factor prominently into the plans next season. Wings Keith Crockett, Salim Woodhouse and Sami Addoboyi each has a physical presence to their game.
The bottom line is Montrose will be excellent this year and could be national championship caliber next season if not sooner.