Monday, December 09, 2013 7:46 AM
Published on: Thursday, March 28, 2013
By Brandy L. Simms
The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference — arguably considered the nation’s top high school basketball league — will be well represented in the NCAA tournament’s Sweet Sixteen.
The Duke-Michigan State matchup in the Midwest region features a pair of Prince George’s County natives who went to DeMatha.
Michigan State sophomore guard Bella Sibedwo, an Upper Marlboro native, earned a walk-on roster spot in February.
Although Michigan State freshman guard Denzel Valentine grew up in Lansing, his father, Carlton Valentine, was once a standout at DeMatha before starring at Michigan State in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, Duke sophomore point guard Quinn Cook, who emerged as one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top players this season, spent three years at the Hyattsville private school before transferring to Oak Hill Academy for his senior campaign.
The East region features top-seeded Indiana versus No. 4 seed Syracuse in a rematch of the 1987 national title game.
The Hoosiers boast junior guard and national player of the year candidate Victor Oladipo, while the Orange feature talented freshman forward Jerami Grant. Both student-athletes are DeMatha graduates.
However, the Indiana-Syracuse game will also feature a pair of opposing coaches who are familiar with each other, too.
Indiana assistant Kenny Johnson, a Prince George’s County native, and Syracuse assistant Adrian Autry were once high school assistants on Glenn Farello’s Paul VI coaching staff in Fairfax, Va.
Farello, who led Paul VI to the 2012 City Title and WCAC championships, was once a successful high school coach at Eleanor Roosevelt in Greenbelt where he guided the Raiders to the 2002 Maryland 4A state championship.
Johnson, an Oxon Hill High graduate, spent four years as an associate head coach at Paul VI and also had a coaching stint at Dr. Henry A. Wise High in Upper Marlboro. He spent a season coaching at Towson University before he was hired at Indiana last year.
“I’m really proud of Kenny,” Farello said. “He first started out as an assistant for me at Eleanor Roosevelt, and we embarked on a journey over at Paul VI to build and I told him, I said, ‘I won’t go over there without you.’ We went over to PVI and obviously he was a big part of our success, and I’m really proud of him.”