Dajuan Dent, Oakland Mills. The lanky 6-foot-5 forward showcased a remarkable level of improvement this winter, finishing off a high school career that actually began with him get cut from the Scorpions' JV squad as a freshman. Long hours in the gym developing his jump shot, a defensive presence and mind for the game did wonders in terms of transforming him into one of the county's top players.
"He made one of the biggest jumps I've ever seen … an incredible testament to the work that he put in," coach Jon Browne said. "He was a student of the game and worked on his craft. He earned everything he got."
After averaging just 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds a game as a junior, Dent more than doubled his averages in both of those categories this winter. He posted 17 games scoring in double figures en route to an average of 10.9 points a night to go along with 8.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks each time out. He thrived on the offensive glass (nearly four a game) and had arguably the best mid-range jumper in the county. "There were times this year where he was knocking down 15-foot jumpers like they were lay-ups."
Brian Green, Long Reach. Transferring in from Hammond, Green took a few games this winter to find his place in the Lightning offense. But by the midway point of the season, he was rolling and so was Long Reach. The senior scored in double figures in 14 of his final 16 games, including a season-high 31 points against Oakland Mills, and helped his team rattle off six straight wins at one point down the stretch of the regular season.
"Brian really began accepting that go-to-player role for us as the year went on," coach Al Moraz Jr. said. "He's one of those kids that possesses the ability to take over games so I think naturally you want the ball in his hands as much as possible."
A 6-foot-2 athletic guard, Green was terrific at getting himself to the rim and finishing among the big boys. He also knocked down 28 3-pointers this season to keep defenses honest. His 14.8 points per game ranked him among the top 10 in the county. In addition to the scoring, Green also contributed 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.0 steals every time out.
Walt Moody, River Hill. Another one of the most improved players in the area this winter, Moody went from averaging just under 15 points a night as a junior to 21 a game this season. More important than the number of points, though, was when he got them - consistently carrying the Hawks down the stretch of games.
"Walt is the kind of guy that isn't afraid to take the bull by the horns," River Hill coach Matt Graves said. "He just knows how to make the big play and those kind of kids are very hard to find. When then games get tight, that's when Walt is at his best."
Moody produced the game-winning basket against Arundel over Christmas break, scored 31 in a win over Centennial during the regular season, and then went for a career-high 37 in a season-ending loss to Centennial in the playoffs. He possessed the ability to make threes (14 on the season), but his bread and butter was scoring in the paint. He averaged 8.4 rebounds a game, three of which were usually courtesy of offensive rebounds, and when teams fouled him he shot 75 percent from the foul line.
Warren Powers, Glenelg Country. Built like a power forward, but possessing the skills of a guard, Powers was the definition of a match-up nightmare. This year, he literally did a little bit of everything for a Dragons' team playing against some of the top teams in the state every night in the MIAA A Conference.
"I thought he got better every year since he got here … his ball handling and shooting got better, but even more than that I thought he developed into an outstanding defensive player," Quinlan said. "You put that with his knack for scoring he's had from day one and he really was an all-around guy for us."
Powers had his share of huge games, including four different efforts of at least 17 points and 14 rebounds. His top performance may have been a 22-point, 17-rebound night against Calvert Hall. He also was consistent, scoring in double figures every game on his way to averaging over 18 points a night. In addition, he averaged 10 rebounds a night to join Oakland Mills' Lavon Long as the only county players to average a double-double.
Omari Ringgold, Centennial. Finishing as the county's top scorer this season at 21.1 points a night, Ringgold was also the only county player to go for over 30 points on four different occasions. He even saved one of his best performances for last, going for a career-high 42 points in a triple-overtime victory over River Hill in the playoffs. His 3-pointer in the final second of regulation was the basket that forced overtime. "That game summed up what Omari has meant to this program … he simply wasn't going to let us lose," coach Chad Hollwedel said. "The way he attacked the basket and carried us, it really was amazing to watch."
Coming off a junior season where he averaged 17 points a game as a compliment to Player of the Year Keonte Potts, Ringgold was the main man this winter for the Eagles. He was the one now facing the double teams, but he found ways to continue to thrive. He excelled at getting out in transition, hitting the boards for put-back baskets and utilizing screens. But he also developed a great face-up game. He was the game-high scorer 19 of the 25 times he stepped on the floor this season. "He was tremendous at realizing what spots he was going to be the most successful in and finding ways to get there," Hollwedel said.
Charlie Thomas, River Hill. A 6-foot-6 forward still just scratching the surface of his potential, Thomas is the only sophomore to make first-team this winter. Already a handful for opponents with his back-to-the-basket as a freshman, he added another dimension to his game this winter to include an ability to knock down contested jumpers. He even showcased extended range by the time the postseason rolled around, hitting three 3-pointers in a triple-overtime loss to Centennial.
The diverse offensive arsenal resulted in a scoring average of 17 points a game. He scored in double figures in every game but one, including a season-high 26 points in a win over Glenelg. The only game he didn't score more than 10 was against a Long Reach, a game in which he played only two minutes because he had the flu. His shooting percentage of 52.4 percent from the floor was top on the team.
To go along with the points, Thomas also averaged team-highs of 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.