By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
DCIAA basketball has taken a backseat to the WCAC and the prep school conferences in this area because of the proliferation of travel and summer league talent that is purged from D.C. for the winter season. However, Woodrow Wilson has built a roster that is a comparable to the elite programs of the DMV who could play with any team in the nation.
December is the preseason where teams routinely schedule marquee matchups that give them a baseline for projections of how they will finish in their conference as the regular season morphs into late February and early March. Wilson has proven over the last two weeks they are amongst the best in this area and are once again a threat to the best of the private schools, which garners most of the attention.
During the “More Than Basketball St. John’s Invitational” the Tigers split a pair of games against a nationally ranked prep school opponent and one with a local pedigree of excellence. In their first game Wilson fell to nationally ranked Prolific Prep Academy from Napa Valley, CA 63-53. But in their second game the Tigers obliterated a less than fell traditional National Christian team in a game where their disparity of talent was decisive in that convincing victory.
Wilson is favored to win both the DCIAA and DCSHAA championships because they are constructed the same way their prep school opposition has been. Coach Angelo Hernandez has worked the AAU circuit to land twins who will be difference makers before taking their talents to the University of Maryland next season.
Makhi and Makhel Mitchell transferred from Montverde Academy in Florida. They played at Archbishop McNamara before moving to Montverde then coming back to play for Wilson. The coup for the Tigers was convincing the imposing duo to forsake the luxuries of prep school life for the grind of playing in the public school leagues, which they have.
After storied reputations on the AAU circuit, Hernandez can plug almost 14 feet and over 500 pounds into their lineup which is a nightmare for most teams in the DMV and unheard of in public school leagues around the country. Most public school programs don’t find players who are interested in playing for city schools because their “advisors” are often influenced by unsavory, flesh peddling types, representing shoe companies or glorified sports factories that create great basketball players but few student athletes.
The Mitchell twins’ size and athleticism give them the balance to play any style of basketball. When running their half court offense each is unstoppable with their back to the basket in the low post because they can clear out space. Plus each has a variety of moves that create problems for defenders. They also create defensive challenges by protecting the rim and eliminating multiple possession opportunities for the opposing offenses.
They have also become the must see duo in the DMV. In successive weekends they have played before standing room only crowds during the National Hoops Fest at DeMatha then at St. John’s.
However, Wilson is more than just the Mitchell twins and a bunch of guys around them. Jay Heath, a converted shooting guard, who has committed to Boston College, directs their offense with efficiency and will learn the nuances of the point guard position he is expected to play in college this season. Domingus Stevens, is the designated shooting guard, and though he hasn’t committed, does have several Division I offers already.
Hernandez has scheduled a brutally tough preseason schedule that will test his team early and prepare them for the defense of DMV titles.