The Washington Post
From Cinderella stars to hometown heroes, the local ties run deep this March
The men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments begin this week, and they offer a multitude of storylines to follow. But for the D.c.-area high school basketball fan, part of the fun might be recognizing a few familiar faces.
There will be 26 local players in the men’s bracket and 26 in the women’s bracket. That number is lower than last year, when 68 area products were dancing.
Unsurprisingly, Howard leads the way when it comes to local players per team; the Mid-eastern Athletic Conference men’s champion has six on its roster. The Maryland men are close behind with five. On the women’s side, Princeton has the most locals with four. Here’s a closer look at a few interesting names, followed by a complete list of local participants:
Cinderella star Elijah Hawkins, Howard:
The Bison will make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1992, and the former Dematha guard is a big reason. The 5-foot11 Hawkins, a backcourt dynamo,
In the men’s field
Favour Aire, Miami (Mcnamara) Noah Batchelor, Maryland (Glenelg Country)
Heru Bligen, Fairleigh Dickinson (St. Andrew’s)
Don Carey, Maryland (Douglass) Carson Dick, Maryland (Glenelg) Marcus Dockery, Howard (Bishop O’connell)
Myles Dread, Penn State (Gonzaga)
RJ Floyd, Maryland (Wise) Xavier Johnson, Indiana (O’connell) Jordan Miller, Miami (Loudoun Valley)
Makhel Mitchell, Arkansas (Jackson-reed)
leads the group in scoring at 13 points per game. No. 16 Howard faces Kansas at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Celebrated freshman Kiki Rice, UCLA:
Last season, Rice helped Sidwell Friends ascend to a No. 1 national ranking and earned All-met Player of the
Makhi Mitchell, Arkansas (JacksonReed)
Casey Morsell, North Carolina State (St. John’s)
Connor Odom, Utah State (Spalding)
Jeremy Roach, Duke (Paul VI) Aaron Roberson, Howard (Dematha)
Jakai Robinson, Miami (National Christian)
Steve Settle III, Howard (Dematha) Cameron Tweedy, Fairleigh Dickinson (Westlake) Christian Watson, Miami (St. John’s) Thomas Weaver, Howard (Riverdale Baptist)
Jelani Williams, Howard (Sidwell) Jahmir Young, Maryland (Dematha)
Year honors. Out West, she has continued to play a starring role, averaging 11.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists in her debut season. The No. 4 Bruins face Sacramento State at 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
Seasoned veteran Jared Bynum,
In the women’s field
Jakia Brown-turner, North Carolina State (Bishop Mcnamara) Jordan Campbell, Florida Gulf Coast (Loudoun Valley)
Chloe Chapman, Georgia (Good Counsel)
Mimi Collins, N.C. State (Paul VI) Gia Cooke, Maryland (Mcnamara) Lauren Ebo, Notre Dame (Riverdale Baptist)
Clara Ford, Virginia Tech (Marshall) Simone Foreman, Holy Cross (St. Andrew’s)
Azzi Fudd, Connecticut (St. John’s) Jania Hall, Monmouth (Pallotti) Parker Hill, Princeton (Churchill) Briana Johns, St. Louis (Edison)
The former Georgetown Prep star is in his third season at Providence after transferring from St. Joseph’s in 2019. The crafty guard has turned into a veteran leader, averaging 10 points and 4.3 assists for the Big East contender. On Thursday, he turns 24. On Friday, the No. 11 Friars take on Kentucky at 7:10 p.m.
Synia Johnson, East Carolina (Riverdale Baptist)
DJ Mcfarlane, Tennessee Tech (New Hope Academy)
Amele Ngwafang, Cleveland State (Paint Branch)
Chet Nweke, Princeton (Stone Ridge)
Ashley Owusu, Virginia Tech (Paul VI) Afia Owusu-mensah, Sacred Heart (CMIT North)
Bella Perkins, USC (Paul VI) Madison Scott, Mississippi (Bishop Mcnamara)
Kadidia Toure, James Madison (Good Counsel)
Malu Tshitenge, UNC (St. John’s) Lexi Weger, Princeton (Episcopal)
Defensive stopper Ellie Mitchell,
Princeton: Mitchell was a cornerstone piece for Georgetown Visitation, and she has made herself indispensable for the Tigers as well. She was the Ivy League’s defensive player of the year for a second straight season. This winter, she averaged a league-high 11 rebounds in addition to 2.4 steals. No. 10 Princeton faces North Carolina State on Friday at 10 p.m.
NBA draft prospect Jordan Hawkins, Connecticut:
The former Dematha wing closed his high school career in relative silence; his senior season came during the covid-warped 2020-21 school year. But the dynamic Hawkins has made plenty of noise in Storrs, averaging 16.1 points this season for a buzzy Huskies team. His play has earned him attention from NBA scouts, with several outlets projecting him as a first-round pick in the 2023 draft. No. 4 Connecticut plays Iona at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Hometown hero Abby Meyers, Maryland:
The graduate senior has spent much of her college career on this list, earning a spot in the tournament in two of her three seasons with Princeton. The Whitman product transferred to College Park this offseason and took on a leadership role. She’s averaging 14.5 points, second most on the Terps. No. 2 Maryland hosts Holy Cross at 2:30 p.m. Friday.