By Aggrey Sam
As someone who’s written a decent amount of features for the PUNKS section of SLAM, as well as few for the PUNKS special issue, I get to see and talk to a lot of high school players. While there are a lot of great hoops hotbeds throughout the country, the DC metro area (which includes the Maryland suburbs and Northern VA) is always among the best.
I recently spoke to one of the area’s top players, 6-0, 190-pound point guard Chris Wright of St. John’s College High School in the District, which plays in one of the nation’s most competitive league’s, the WCAC (Washington Catholic Athletic Conference). Wright, who signed with Georgetown in the fall, is the proverbial straw that stirs the drink for St. John’s, which is the Washington Post’s current No. 1-ranked team in the area (although they’ll probably take a hit after Tuesday night’s one-point loss to league rival Paul VI of VA). He’s a kid who’s been a local name for a while now, ever since he was a 6-year-old playing (and holding his own) with his older brother’s middle school-aged AAU team.
A high school basketball beat writer for a DC newspaper described Wright, who’s currently averaging just under 24 ppg, as “a good of a scorer you’re going to find on the high school level. He can shoot, take the ball to the basket and he’s smart on top of that.”
Added scout Van Johnson (more from him later), Wright “knows when his team needs him to score and knows when his team needs him to distribute the ball. He’s a legit top-25 player in the nation.”
Wright discussed his commitment to Georgetown, his rivalry with future teammate Austin Freeman, the recruiting process, his favorite players, his workout routine and more. Basically, this an opportunity to learn more about a kid you’ll see on TV for the next few years. With no further adieu, here’s Chris Wright…
On committing to Georgetown:
It was mostly Coach Thompson. He basically personally recruited me himself. I felt comfortable with the team and felt we could win a championship my freshman year. Just being home, the school, the team. He didn’t promise me anything, but he said I have a very good chance to play big minutes as a freshman. I don’t know if I’m gonna start, but if I don’t I know I’ll contribute. There were too many schools on the east coast for me to follow Coach Sendek to Arizona State (Chris previously committed to NC State, before Herb Sendek was fired and subsequently hired by Arizona State). Freshman year, we’re winning the chip. Mark my words.
On playing with high school rival and fellow DC area top senior Austin Freeman (Dematha) in college:
Actually, we’re real good friends. We’re enemies on the court because of the rivalry, but off the court we’re the best of friends. I always wanted to play with Austin. We had chances to play with each other (in AAU), but it never worked out. This time, when he called me to play on his team, the timing was right. We know that Georgetown is coming back. Me and Austin are both anxious to get there. We know we’re gonna be a part of something good and we just wanna keep it going.
On Georgetown’s Princeton-style offense:
People call it the Princeton offense, but in the Princeton offense people don’t usually have the opportunity to create for themselves. They just haven’t had the players where they can be creative as a team.
On the best players he’s played against:
Ty Lawson (UNC freshman point guard) and Nigel Munson (Virginia Tech freshman point guard). Both are very crafty and know the game very well. Tywon’s just so explosive and Nigel’s just one of those players that with his handle, you can’t take the ball from him and you can’t leave him open because he can knock down shots.
On his most memorable experience:
It had to be Dematha, my sophomore year, in the playoffs. We lost by one and I missed the game-winning shot. For my best game, I’d say it was when I dropped 53 on eight threes in an AAU game.
On the player he’s most likely to match up with:
OJ Mayo because, to me, he’s too cocky. I mean, he’s good, but I don’t know how good he really is.
On who he most looks forward to matching up with in college:
Just the whole Big East. Villanova, with Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and those guys. Syracuse, with Johnny Flynn and Scoop.
On his goals for the season:
To win the WCAC (DC’s Catholic league, arguably the toughest high school league in the nation) championship and the City Title game (DC’s Catholic league champ vs. DC’s public league champ). For myself, to go All-met for the third time and win All-Met player of the year.
On making the McDonald’s All-American game:
Those things are politics. It’s no way that Paul Harris (Syracuse freshman) should not have made the McDonald’s game last year. I wanna make it, but if I don’t, I wont cry over it.
On the strengths of his game:
My speed and quickness and ability to create shots for other players.
On his weaknesses:
Full court man-to-man defense.
On his favorite high school player to watch:
Austin (Freeman) because he can score in so many ways. People don’t know, but he’s explosive. He will dunk on you.
On his favorite college player to watch:
Dominic James and Kevin Durant. Dominic is quicker than me, but I think we’re kinda similar. He’s just exciting to watch, like when he destroyed Duke on national TV. That was ridiculous. With Kevin, he can take over a game whenever he wants to.
On his favorite NBA players to watch:
AI and Chris Paul. I try to combine of both of them in my game.
On the craziest thing a coach did during his recruiting process:
A coach flew into my game (in DC) the same night after playing on the west coast.
On what he hated the most about the recruiting process:
The constant calls. Sometimes it’s just like, leave me alone.
On what NCAA rules he would change:
No SATs because the SAT is a way of keeping players out of college and a way of keeping great players from getting to the next level. (For the record, Chris is fully qualified for freshman eligibility and has a 3.48 GPA)
On his summer workout routine:
I work out every day in the summer. I lift weights three times a week, I shoot every day. Most days, I wake up around 8 and get in the gym by 9. Then I shoot for a couple hours, eat and lift weights for two hours. Then I shoot again, play pickup or go to Barry Farms (to play in the Goodman League, one of DC’s top summer leagues). As far as drills, I do a lot of ballhandling drills, full-court dribbling, stopping on a dime and shooting threes, all types of moves. I put up about 1,000 shots a day. I usually work out with my brother, OJ Wright (a junior at Bowie State, a strong D2 program)
On his top five high school players, by position:
At point guard, I have to pick myself. At the two, I’d say Eric Gordon. My man Austin at the three. Mike Beasley at the four. And I gotta say Kevin Love at the five.
I also spoke to Van Johnson about who he considers the best players in the region. Johnson is the head of scouting for Game Plan Sports, which runs the summer Nike Pro City League in DC, the Nike Peach Jam AAU tourney in Georgia and the Bay Ball Classic holiday high school tourney in Delaware. Here are his top 10 seniors in the DC area:
1. Austin Freeman, 6-5 wing, Dematha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, MD), Georgetown, pure scorer is a top-10 national player who can get buckets from anywhere on the court
2. Chris Wright, 6-1 point guard, St. John’s College High School, (Washington, DC), committed to Georgetown, strong and heady lead guard will help continue the Hoyas’ resurgence
3. John Flowers, 6-8 combo forward, St. Mary’s Ryken (Leonardtown, MD), West Virginia, versatile and athletic kid who will contribute immediately in college
4. Darnell Dodson, 6-6 wing, Eleanor Roosevelt High School (Greenbelt, MD), Pittsburgh, prolific shooter is adding strength and expanding his game before hitting the Big East
5. Jerai Grant, 6-9 power forward, Dematha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, MD), Clemson, son of former NBA player Harvey Grant and nephew of Horace has come on strong in past year
6. Anthony McClain, 7-0 center, National Christian Academy (Fort Washington, MD), considering Connecticut, Florida and Georgetown, man in the middle is waiting until spring to make decision
7. Mike Davis, 6-8 combo forward, T.C. Williams High School (Alexandria, VA), A-10 recruit, likely headed to prep school, may get ACC and Big East offers
8. Jayde Gavin, 6-1 combo guard, Bishop McNamara High School (Forestville, MD), Marist, pure shooter is an absolute steal for low-D1 school
9. Adrian Bowie, 6-3 combo guard, Montrose Christian School (Rockville, MD), Maryland, steady senior who hit game-winner to beat Oak Hill last season is now leader of young, nationally-ranked squad
10. Augustus “Gus” Gilchrist, 6-9 power forward, Progressive Christian Academy (Camp Springs, MD), Virginia Tech, true post player will be a factor in the ACC