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High School sports

Mount Saint Joseph basketball standout Ace Valentine commits to UMBC: ‘I just loved everything I saw’

All-Metro second-team guard Ace Valentine, a key component in No. 1 Mount Saint Joseph’s 33-6 championship season, has made a commitment to play at UMBC following his senior year.

In his breakthrough junior season in 2021-22, Valentine averaged 13 points, four rebounds and three assists as the Gaels swept the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League championships.

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The Ellicott City resident, who maintains a 4.6 GPA, said his official visit had him quickly sold. He also had offers from Loyola Maryland, Niagara, St. Peter’s, Navy, North Carolina A&T and William & Mary, and several Ivy League schools also expressed interest.

“I just loved everything I saw and after the visit they showed me the most love and made me a priority. It felt like they really wanted me to commit there,” he said of the Retrievers, who went 18-14 last season and reached the America East Conference Tournament championship game under first-year coach Jim Ferry. “Now, I feel there’s a lot of pressure off my shoulders and I can just work to get better and not worry about where I’m going. Being close to home, I’ll be able to have family watch my games, so it’s definitely a win-win situation.”

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A varsity player since his freshman year, Valentine proved an ideal fit on a talented team that also featured All-Metro Player of the Year Amani Hansberry and first-teamer Bryson Tucker.

Valentine’s season highlight came in the Gaels’ 63-60 win over Mount Carmel in the MIAA title game. The 6-foot-3 guard finished with 20 points and played strong defense against Cougars All-Metro guard Deon Perry.

“I thought he was really crucial to our success last year,” said Mount Saint Joseph coach Pat Clatchey. “He hit some big shots, made some big plays and got better as the season went on. He embraced the big moment when it was his time to do so.”

Valentine is looking forward to building on his junior year’s success, starting with a senior season filled with promise as the Gaels look to defend their crowns.

“Basketball is my passion and if I could play for the rest of my life, I would,” he said. “I definitely want to become a pro because it’s what I love to do. I just want to keep going, keep working until my dream comes true.”


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