DMV Live, D.C. Live basketball events draw college basketball coaches

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The back entrance area to the gym at DeMatha Catholic High School is bustling with the mild Friday of June reaching its hottest point in the late afternoon.

A trainer from Fairleigh Dickinson spoke loudly in his mobile phone about a winger who could “really shoot him”. A group of skinny high school basketball players discussed whether it was possible to attend Lil’ Baby’s party that night in Washington. Xavier’s new coach Sean Miller approached the check-in table and gave his name, so as not to be confused with his brother, Archie, who would also be present.

This was the first day of DMV Live, one of two major basketball recruiting events that take place in the metropolitan area each summer and one that will run this coming weekend. In 2019, the NCAA opened a window for scholastic events in what is usually Al Ain University basketball. Now in its third edition, the event featured DeMatha 32 private schools from Maryland and Virginia – but was open to schools from other states as well.

DC Live, a similar setup at Sidwell Friends, is held for DC teams and Virginia Public School teams.

“The biggest change this year is that the demand for entry is massive,” said Mark Stern, director of DMV Live, who noted applications from high schools as far away as Colorado. “Logistically, it is not possible to accommodate everyone.”

More than anything else, these events are a place to watch and be observed. College coaches excel on the sidelines, each wearing their school uniform so they can be noticed by the best prospects in the area. However, coaches are not allowed to talk to players: NCAA rules limit them to contact by text or phone calls during this time period.

It’s kind of weird, not being able to talk to anyone,” said Robert Dockery, star of Jackson Reed. “But I always see from here. I definitely notice.”

Sean Miller was among the many Power Five coaches who attended last weekend. Also seen at either event: American Tommy Amaker, Tony Bennett of Virginia, Jeff Capel of Pittsburgh, Jim Laranaga of Miami, Butler Thad Mata, Kevin Willard of Maryland, Mike Woodson of Maryland, Mike Young of Virginia Tech.

Not every coach was there to scout the best potential players. Early Friday afternoon, Davis & Elkins’ Daniel Harris sat in the stands at Sidwell Friends feasting on a granola bar while watching Patriot High challenge Coolidge. The Young Assistant Coach represents a Tier 2 junior program from Elkins, W.

“This is the first time for me [recruiting] In the DMV area actually,” Harris said. “The reputation of this area is that you can find anything you want here. There is a lot of talent in Division I, but it’s more than that.”

Harris mostly watches the intangible. He pointed to one of the players in the match in front of him and said he liked his height and athletic height. “Maybe he’s not a shooter or a playmaker right now,” Harris said. But it’s about what we can see in two or three years. It’s all about potential.”

From a player’s point of view, each of that study can have different effects. Arguably the most famous team of the weekend was Paul VI, who boasted a host of new talent and depth as he outlasted four tough opponents at DeMatha.

But in the leopard’s menu, there’s a host of emotions on a show like this. For rookie rookie DeShawn Harris-Smith, 2023’s highest-ranked in attendance, events like DMV Live no longer create butterflies.

“It just doesn’t bother me that much anymore,” said Harris Smith. “I don’t pay much attention to the coaches; I just try to lead my team to victory. …[College] Coaches want winners.”

Meanwhile, a large group of Paul VI’s new freshmen are thrown into the DMV Live frenzy before they can attend a single day of high school.

“I was really nervous,” Anthony Brown Jr. said after his first match. “Maybe it took until the start of the second half to rest. In the first half, I keep thinking about how this would be my first high school game. … The main goal is just to get better. I’ll get used to it.”

DMV Live runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Admission is $10.

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