Future Mountaineers seize the night
BECKLEY, W.Va. - Fans at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center doubled their pleasure Saturday evening. They not only glimpsed the future of WVU basketball, they got to see a pretty entertaining game, too.
Devin Williams, one of four West Virginia University recruits playing on the Little General team, scored two crucial baskets in overtime as his team rallied for a 98-92 victory over Crossroads Chevy in the national game of the 24th Scott Brown Memorial Classic.
The 6-foot-8 Williams, from Montverde Academy (Fla.), was selected as the MVP for his 24-point, 15-rebound effort in a game that featured 11 Division I players.
It was one of his first games in the state of West Virginia, and it allowed him to meet some of his new Mountaineer teammates, as Elijah Macon (Wolfeboro, N.H.), Brandon Watkins (Grady, Ga.) and Nathan Adrian (Morgantown) also competed on the victorious Little General team.
"I feel good,'' Williams said. "It's something I was looking forward to. I can't wait to get down here. These next couple of months, I just want to finish up school strong and come in here. We're just now meeting each other for the first time - I'm meeting Brandon and Adrian and [Donte'] Grantham, so it was pretty fun.''
Martinsburg's Grantham, the state player of the year in West Virginia and the only uncommitted Division I prospect in the game, had nine points and six rebounds. He has been offered scholarships by several D-1 schools, including WVU, and said the weekend experience in Beckley, practicing and playing with WVU's recruits, could sway his college choice.
"Yeah, it affects my decision,'' Grantham said. "I can see myself being with them. I think we're kind of like the same people. You can't trade this [experience] away. It was nice knowing them, and hopefully we can see each other again.''
Grantham expects to make his decision in a few days.
All the WVU talent contributed to the victory, as Macon turned in a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, Watkins finished with 10 points and six boards and Adrian turned in 13 points and five rebounds.
The skinny, 6-9 Adrian certainly looked a lot more in his element than he did during the recent Class AAA state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center, as Morgantown was erased by South Charleston in the first round.
"I knew I could do all that,'' Adrian said, "but tonight I learned I could play some D.''
Moses Kingsley, a 6-9 center out of Huntington Prep who's headed to Arkansas, paced the Crossroads squad with 22 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots. He was one of three Huntington Prep stars to make the trip.
Crossroads led by 10 points with just under 10 minutes left in the game, but Little General caught up at 85-all on a vicious follow slam dunk by Williams with 38 seconds left in regulation.
In the OT, Williams took a pair of feeds from SC point guard Ra'Shaud Kincaid for goals and Little General hit seven of 10 free throws to build a cushion.
Kincaid was one of seven in-state Class AAA standouts sprinkled onto the two rosters for the game, and the mixing of Division I types and prep school stars with state standouts made for both interesting and awkward moments.
Dereck Weiford of Greenbrier East canned three 3-pointers for Crossroads, a nine-point total that was matched by Shady Spring's Chase Connor for Little General.
Woodrow Wilson point guard Andrew Johnson, however, seemed to be at the crux of a lot of those moments as he donated seven points and eight assists for Little General with seven turnovers.
Johnson found himself guarding Huntington Prep guard Travon Landry, a Tennessee recruit, one on one and the ultra-quick Landry blew by him for a layup. Another time, the 6-foot Johnson got an offensive rebound under the basket but had it rudely swatted out of bounds by another Huntington Prep star, 6-foot-10 Dominic Woodson.
Johnson, however, got his revenge when he drew a charging call on the 260-pound Woodson, though it appeared to knock the wind out of him. Later, he prevented Woodson from tearing into a slam dunk with a hard foul.
"I wanted to come in here and just show everybody I can play basketball,'' Johnson said.
"I felt like they was trying to punk me a little bit by talking trash to me and stuff and calling me a little girl. And I wasn't having that. I was like, 'I ain't no little girl and I'm gonna let you know that.' I just felt like I had to come out and play my hardest even if they was killing me and I couldn't play defense at all. I just wanted to come out and play my hardest.''
Johnson, a quarterback who plans to play football at Hargrave Military Academy, took three charges in the game and also managed to get a key rebound late in OT by calling timeout as he fell out of bounds under the basket.
"Nobody's talking to me for basketball,'' Johnson said, "but I love to play basketball. I just love this sport. I love the up-and-down pace. There's something about basketball that I've always loved.''
The game, which attracted a somewhat disappointing crowd estimated at 2,400, featured just four slam dunks - two by each team. Each side missed a couple, with Macon trying a spectacular off-the-backboard slam on a breakaway, but came up empty.
Williams made only 11 of 26 shots, but seemed to have a polished offensive game. On one possession against man-to-man defense in the first half, he got the rebound, brought the ball up the floor and backed down his defender all the way from halfcourt, scoring on a nice spin move.
Little General led 44-41 at halftime when Kincaid floated in a 3 at the buzzer. His coach at SC, Vic Herbert, served as coach for Little General.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.