Con­tin­u­ing suc­cess af­ter high school

Mem­bers of 2010-11 NP state ti­tle hoops team shine in col­lege

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

North Point head boys bas­ket­ball coach Jimmy Ball can still hear the sound of the fi­nal buzzer that marked the pro­gram’s elu­sive first-ever state championship dur­ing the 2010-11 sea­son. He can still re­call that team be­ing a fam­ily on and off the court.

“You al­ways saw those guys to­gether in the hall­ways. This group had great chem­istry and they bought in to the sys­tem and un­der­stood their roles,” Ball said. “I chal­lenged them ev­ery week and they were self­less. They played hard and were hungr y to win.”

It was an epic mo­ment for the Eagles as they made his­tory on Satur­day, March 12, 2011 in­side of Univer­sity of Mary­land’s Com­cast Cen­ter, now known as the Xfin­ity Cen­ter, in Col­lege Park when they cel­e­brated a 76-72 win over 5-foot7 sopho­more phe­nom guard Aquille Carr and the Pat­ter­son Clip­pers of Bal­ti­more in the Class 4A state fi­nal to cap off an im­pres­sive 27-0 un­de­feated sea­son be­fore more than 11,000 fans in at­ten­dance.

The valiant fin­ish for North Point marked the first time since 1972 that the South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence boasted a state cham­pion in boys bas­ket­ball.

“It all started with those

guys. They helped put North Point and the con­fer­ence on the map,” said Ball, whose team was the prover­bial un­der­dogs en­ter­ing the state tour­na­ment, de­spite be­ing un­de­feated that sea­son. “We were only a var­sity pro­gram for four years and go un­de­feated and win­ning a state ti­tle, it doesn’t get any bet­ter than that.”

Six years later, sev­eral mem­bers from that North Point team — in­clud­ing the start­ing five which fea­tured Mar­quis Wright, DeVonte’ Thomas, Naim Muham­mad, Gerel Sim­mons and Tre Mou­ton — went on to have suc­cess­ful play­ing ca­reers in col­lege, at the pro­fes­sional level over­seas or other work-re­lated en­deav­ors.

Thomas, who was Eagles’ lead­ing scorer (17 points per game) and se­nior shoot­ing guard dur­ing that state ti­tle run, went on to play four years of col­lege at NCAA Divi­sion II ball at Au­gusta State Univer­sity (Ga.) and now is in his sec­ond year play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally over­seas — cur­rently in Italy for the Serie C L.G. Bas­ket team.

“We knew each other like the back of our hands and our chem­istry was in­de­scrib­able,” said Thomas, who was the pro­gram’s first 1,000-point scorer and was SMAC’s Most Out­stand­ing Player and All-County Ath­lete of the Year in his se­nior sea­son. “Aquille Carr is a great player don’t get me wrong, but that year our whole start­ing start­ing five was a prob­lem and it was ab­so­lutely no way he could win alone. Plus, we had a few X-fac­tors that could come in and play their role at a high level. We es­tab­lished some­thing that hadn’t been done be­fore and that game. It was so much tears of ex­cite­ment af­ter that game. It makes me happy to see my broth­ers do­ing well and I wish them noth­ing but the best.”

Wright, who a sopho­more point guard with silky smooth drib­bling and pass­ing abil­ity, was the Eagles’ floor gen­eral on that team. He re­cently wrapped up a bril­liant ca­reer at NCAA Divi­sion I Siena, rank­ing third all-time in pro­gram bas­ket­ball his­tory in as­sists (614), fifth in steals (199) and 10th in scor­ing (1,546). He also boasted Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Bas­ket­ball Coaches Dis­trict I and All-Metro At­lantic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence sec­ond-team hon­ors as a se­nior.

“My fa­vorite mem­ory of win­ning states is when the game ended,” said Wright, who has fu­ture plans of play­ing pro. “I threw the ball in the air and looked around and saw all the fans cheer­ing and it made me and my team feel spe­cial. I en­joyed ev­ery mo­ment of it. It’s great see the start­ing five do well in col­lege and over­seas. There aren’t too many teams that do that and it’s a bless­ing to be a part of that.”

Sim­mons, a se­nior for­ward that sea­son, keyed the Eagles with seven of his 19 points in the fi­nal 2 min­utes 29 sec­onds to help clinch the state crown, in­clud­ing hit­ting all five of his free throws. He also had five re­bounds and four steals.

As a red­shirt se­nior in 2016, Sim­mons guided Lin­coln Me­mo­rial Univer­sity (Tenn.) all the way to the NCAA Divi­sion II championship game, scor­ing a game-high 35 points in the na­tional semi­fi­nals in a 103-102 win over West Lib­erty Univer­sity (W.Va.). Now he is play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally over­seas in Ar­gentina for Ci­clista.

The then-sopho­more power for­ward Muham­mad led teamhighs of 20 points and 11 re­bounds in the state championship game. Af­ter high school he went on to play four years at NCAA Divi­sion II Shep­herd Univer­sity (W.Va.) where he fin­ished his ca­reer scor­ing over 1,000 points and grab­bing over 500 re­bounds.

“We had a lot of mem­o­ries and when you look back we did some­thing big in the com­mu­nity,” said Muham­mad. “Dur­ing the sum­mer, all of us keep in touch when we can, but we fol­lowed each other stats on­line dur­ing col­lege.”

Mou­ton, a junior dur­ing that time, was the Eagles’ de­fen­sive stop­per as a 6-foot-3 wing player used his size and strength to keep Carr in check.

Mou­ton did not play col­lege ball right out of high school un­til this past sea­son where he av­er­aged 9.4 points per game as a fresh­man at NAA Divi­sion III St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land. He is the son of cur­rent West­lake head boys bas­ket­ball coach Ed­ward Mou­ton Sr., who was an as­sis­tant un­der Ball dur­ing that state ti­tle run. The younger Mou­ton’s un­cle By­ron Mou­ton was a mem­ber of the 2002 Univer­sity of Mary­land na­tional championship team un­der Gary Wil­liams.

Matt Bonds, a 2013 North Point grad­u­ate, did not get sig­nif­i­cant play­ing time on that team, but went on to be a dom­i­nant big man in SMAC his next two years. He fin­ished up a dom­i­nant four-year ca­reer with Divi­sion II Saint Michael’s Col­lege (Vt.), scor­ing over 1,500 points and grabbed over 1,100 re­bounds as one of the top big men in the coun­try.

His older brother Mark Bonds was a se­nior for­ward re­serve off the bench that year and now works at ESPN in the mu­sic and au­dio depart­ment.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Mar­quis Wright, a 2013 North Point High School grad­u­ate, was the team’s start­ing point guard as a sopho­more dur­ing the 2010-11 state ti­tle run for the Eagles. He re­cently fin­ished up a stel­lar fouryear ca­reer at NCAA Divi­sion I out­fit Siena in which he scored over 1,500 points and dished out over 600 as­sists.

Naim Muham­mad, a 2013 North Point High School grad­u­ate, pro­pelled the Eagles to a Class 4A state championship in 2011 with a game-high 20 points and 11 re­bounds as a sopho­more power for­ward dur­ing the 2010-11 sea­son. He re­cently fin­ished up his col­lege ca­reer at NCAA Divi­sion II Shep­herd Univer­sity (W.Va.) and scored over 1,000 points and grabbed over 500 re­bounds in his ca­reer.

SUBMITTED PHO­TOS

Gerel Sim­mons, a 2011 North Point High School grad­u­ate, spurred the Eagles with 19 points to a Class 4A state championship win. He went on to help lead the NCAA Divi­sion II Lin­coln Me­mo­rial Univer­sity (Tenn.) to the na­tional championship game in 2016, scor­ing a game-high 35 points in the na­tional semi­fi­nals. He now is play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally in Ar­gentina.

Tre Mou­ton, a 2012 North Point High School grad­u­ate, was the de­fen­sive stop­per in slow­ing down sopho­more phe­nom guard Aquille Carr in the Eagles’ 76-72 vic­tory over Pat­ter­son in the Class 4A state championship game dur­ing his junior sea­son. Now, 22, Mou­ton re­cently completed his fresh­man sea­son at NCAA Divi­sion III St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land un­der head coach Chris Har­ney.

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