By Brandy L. Simms @bls1969
Gaithersburg, Richard Montgomery and Bethesda-Chevy Chase are among the teams in Montgomery County that should make some noise on the hardwood this season.
The Gaithersburg Trojans boast the dynamic duo of sophomores Jao Ituka and Jordan Hawkins who both made a splash in their first season of high school basketball.
Ituka, who earned first team All-Sentinel honors last season, and Hawkins, who was named fourth team All-Sentinel, are both legitimate NCAA Division I college prospects.
Already, both student-athletes have earned scholarship offers from the University of South Alabama and are receiving interest from other schools.
The pair guided the Trojans to the regional championship and an appearance in the state semifinals before falling to eventual Class 4A state champion Perry Hall at Xfinity Center.
During the summer, the Trojans honed their skills by competing in the Maryland Elite Basketball League.
“We had a great summer,” said Gaithersburg head coach Jeff Holda. “We will probably have six sophomores in our rotation. We’re going to be very young.”
Richard Montgomery figures to be a force in the County this season even with the departure of Division I college prospect Olivier Nkamhoua who transferred to Bishop Walsh in Cumberland.
The Richard Montgomery Rockets still boast a talented group that includes Miles Gally, Ryan Cornish and Djordje Orcev who helped lead the team to the summer championship in the Maryland Elite Basketball League.
“We have the longest home winning streak in the county,” said Richard Montgomery head coach David Breslaw, who noted the Rockets last home loss was to Einstein in January 2017.
At 6-9, Gally could prove to be unstoppable on the low block for opposing defenders. He’s also a skilled three-point shooter.
“I think that the strength of my game is my shooting,” said Gally.
Richard Dudley, who earned second team All-Sentinel honors last season, returns for Paint Branch and should help the Panthers contend for postseason supremacy.
“Paint Branch is big-time,” added Breslaw, “and Sherwood is going to be better than a lot of people think.”
Meanwhile, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Barons welcome the return of highly-touted junior Elijah Wood, a third team All-Sentinel performer last season.
Wood, a 6-foot-5 guard, transferred from St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Potomac to Bethesda-Chevy Chase for his sophomore campaign. Over the summer, the Division I college prospect announced that he would be leaving B-CC for Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas but opted to stay at the Montgomery County public school instead.
Springbrook’s Timitrius Hawkins and Xavier Harris should help the Blue Devils contend while Damascus could raise some eyebrows during the 2018-19 campaign.
On the private school front, Good Counsel, Sandy Spring Friends School, Jewish Day School, St. Andrew’s, Bullis, Georgetown Prep and Landon could all make some noise.
Nendeh Tarke, who was named second team All-Sentinel during his junior campaign last season, returns for Bullis while Heru Bligen, a second team All-Sentinel performer last season, and Kamari Williams, who earned fourth team All-Sentinel honors, will look to guide St. Andrew’s to their first MAC championship since 2015.