Ten years ago, I witnessed perhaps the greatest collection of talent I’ve ever seen in a regular season high school basketball game.
In March 2006, I covered the highly-touted matchup between then top-ranked Oak Hill Academy and Rockville’s Montrose Christian School.
That day, Montrose Christian rallied from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat Oak Hill Academy, 74-72, before an overflow crowd.
The game was played at Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C. and fans came in droves to observe two of the nation’s premiere prep basketball programs going head-to-head against each other.
At the time, Oak Hill was the No. 1 team in USA Today and boasted a 40-0 record. The Warriors lineup featured a who’s who of future college stars including Ty Lawson (North Carolina), Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Nolan Smith (Duke) and Jeff Allen (Virginia Tech).
It was my first time seeing Lawson play in person and I came away impressed. The kid was every bit as good as advertised. I had heard stories about Lawson prior to the game and he certainly lived up to his star billing.
Lawson, a Prince George’s County native, put on a spectacular show that day as he dazzled fans with his crossover dribbles and flashy moves on the court.
Although Lawson finished with a team-high 26 points, the 5-foot-11 point guard was held scoreless in the game’s final three minutes.
“We wanted to make sure that we could control the game tempo and not get caught because Tywon Lawson is the best point guard in the country without question,” Montrose Christian head coach Stu Vetter told me afterward. “I don’t think I’ve ever played against a team with a better point guard than Tywon Lawson. He’s certainly a great player.”
Meanwhile, Montrose Christian began the 2005-06 campaign ranked No. 1 in USA Today and featured a lineup that included future NBA first round draft picks Kevin Durant and Greivis Vasquez.
Although Durant (31 points, 9 rebounds) and Vasquez (17 points) played significant roles, it was the performance of then-junior Adrian Bowie that helped propel the Mustangs to victory and snap Oak Hill’s 56-game winning streak.
Bowie, who finished with 20 points, scored the game’s final six points including the game-winning lay-up as time expired.
“People don’t hear about Adrian Bowie because you have Kevin Durant, you have Greivis Vasquez and Taishi [Ito],” said Vetter, who guided the Mustangs to a 20-2 record that season, “but Adrian Bowie is a great player.”
Bowie, who now plays professionally overseas, went on to play four years of college basketball at the University of Maryland.
Lawson and Smith both helped lead their college teams to NCAA titles at North Carolina and Duke, respectively. They were also both selected in the first round of the NBA draft.
Besides Lawson and Smith, Durant, Beasley and Vasquez were also first round NBA draft picks.
This historic game produced five first round NBA draft selections including two NCAA champions. In fact, Durant and Beasley were selected No. 2 overall in consecutive years. When you look back, that’s quite an accomplishment for a group of kids from Maryland.
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