VISAA Tournament Recap

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Terrapin Times checked out the VISAA (Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association) Tournament semifinals March 1, which were held at Virginia State University in Petersburg. Here's our report.

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Terrapin Times checked out the VISAA (Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association) Tournament semifinals March 1, which were held at Virginia State University in Petersburg. Here's our report.

The big news of the day was Cape Henry Collegiate's (Virginia Beach, Va.) impressive victory over a strong Trinity Episcopal squad, 82-65, and the subsequent offer made to its star wing, Christopher Clarke, by Maryland. CHC played Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) in the Division I Championship March 2 (Paul VI won, 64-56), as the Panthers easily dismantled Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.), 52-38, in the other semi.

I've been talking about Clarke for a few months now, and it was good to look across the court and see Mark Turgeon sitting front and center. Clarke did not disappoint. He was slashing to the hole and finishing plays from the outset, and for the night shot 10-of-13 from the floor (1-of-2 treys) and hit 2-of-3 free throws, finishing with 23 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and three turnovers.

Now, keep in mind, Clarke is playing on a supremely talented team, and he doesn't have to score. Teammate Jimmy Paige, a 6-foot-4 forward who has committed to Jimmy Patsos and Siena, actually led the Dolphins with 28 points, and nailed five treys in the process. But Clarke does so many things that contribute to wins.

Clarke, close to 6-6, can lead the break, he can shut down opponents on the defensive end, is an excellent passer, a fine rebounder, and shoots it well enough. And he would have to be considered an elite athlete, with excellent speed and quickness, and some serious bounce.

Certainly the offer from Maryland does not necessarily put the Terps in the driver's seat for Clarke, but it should at least keep them in the game. We're still surprised at the lack of national offers coming his way, but that could change in the spring when Clarke suits up for Boo Williams in the Nike EYBL. Clarke's family has ties to Baltimore, and it's relatively close to his Virginia Beach home, so we'll keep a close eye on how this recruitment develops. As CHC coach Mark Hall told us March 2, "it was great to see Coach (Turgeon) there last night. We had a nice talk. It's all about building relationships."

While the CHC/Trinity Episcopal game was an entertaining, up-tempo affair, the second Division I semifinal between Paul VI and O'Connell was slower, and, at times, hard to watch. Somehow, O'Connell had defeated the Panthers twice this year behind stellar efforts from Maryland signee Romelo Trimble. That was not to be March 1 as the Panthers blew out the Knights, 52-38, in a game that was not even that close.

Paul VI's game plan was evident: run two, or even three defenders at Trimble at all times, make him give up the ball, and dare anyone else to beat them. It worked, needless to say. Things got so bad for O'Connell that they could only manage one point -- that's right, one point -- in the third quarter, and fell behind 38-18.

Trimble has carried O'Connell all year, and while at times others have stepped up, there has not been a consistent secondary offensive threat to emerge. On March 1, Paul VI really played him physically, and the McDonald's All American could only manage eight points, on 3-of-8 field goals and two free throws, while grabbing two rebounds, dishing out two assists, and having one steal, to go with three turnovers.

When Trimble picked up his third foul early in the second half, the game was essentially over. Terp fans need to keep in mind that while Trimble is an excellent player, he needs good players around him for that talent to really shine. Time and again March 1 he would drive the lane, and find open shooters on the wings, who hoisted up brick after brick.

It will be interesting to see how O'Connell and Trimble respond at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational, which begins March 13 in Frostburg. On March 1, they certainly looked like a tired team, and one that needed a break from the game.

Other notes....

For Paul VI, another wing of interest to Maryland, Joshua Reaves, played very well, scoring 16 points, nailing 2 treys, and playing solid defense. It seems as though the Terps have shown a lot of interest in Reaves, a 6-4 guard who has improved his shooting, and is a very good defender as well. We'll see how the offer to Clarke affects their pursuit of Reaves. He's smaller than Clarke and not as strong, but probably shoots it a little better. Clarke has better floor skills and is the more dominant rebounder. Depending on where Clarke's recruitment goes, it's possible Reaves could receive an offer down the road, and again, he was certainly impressive against OC.

We got another look at the ridiculous talents of 7-0 sophomore forward Thon Maker, in a D2 Semi Final game, as he led Carlisle past Walsingham Academy. Maker reminds us of a poor man's Kevin Durant. He's much more comfortable facing the basket, can shoot treys with ease, handles the ball on the break, and is a true rim protector.

Maker missed a ton of shots against an overmatched Walsingham team, but you can bet he'll be a one year collegiate player. His skills are absolutely incredible given his size.

Another prospect with an excellent future is Devin Robinson, a 6-8 wing from Christ Church School, who led his team to an upset win over Virginia Episcopal School in the other D2 semifinal. VES, coached by former Virginia star Curtis Staples, was the No. 1 seed going in, but they had no answer for Robinson, who has signed with Florida.

We saw Robinson two years ago at the Reebok Camp in Philly, and wrote about him them, citing his excellent athleticism and skills. I thought he was someone Maryland should recruit, but they never did. Billy Donovan will reap the benefits now, and I see Robinson's name being called on an NBA Draft about four years from now. He needs to get much stronger, but his length, shooting ability, and athleticism are all exceptional.

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