• Brian Cooney

The WCAC Conference: A Men's High School Basketball Powerhouse

The Washington D.C. area prides itself on the athletes they produce. The melting pot of the nation's capitol has produced many professional and collegiate athletes. The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) is a collection of private high schools where sports are elite. The WCAC is the best conference in the country, having 4 of the current 50 best teams in high school according to MaxPreps.com. All the athletics are competitive and have great athletes, but the basketball atmosphere is the most notable. These teams excel on the court:

1. Dematha High School

2020-2021 MaxPreps National Ranking - 5

Notable NBA Players:

Victor Oladipo (Houston Rockets, former All-Star)

Adrian Dantley (6x All-Star)

Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons)

Jerian Grant (Out of the League)

Markelle Fultz (Orlando Magic, former #1 overall pick)

Quinn Cook (Los Angeles Lakers, 2x NBA champion)

Keith Bogans (retired)

Notable College Players:

Hunter Dickinson (Michigan, potential All-American)

Justin Moore (Villanova, starting guard)

Earl Timberlake Jr. (Miami)

D.J. Harvey (Vanderbilt)

Nate Darling (Delaware)

James Robinson (Pittsburgh)

Josh Carlton (UConn)

Dematha has led the WCAC for quite some time. Over the years, they have ranked within the top ten teams numerous times. They've had many players turn into elite players at both the collegiate and professional level. Last season, before it was cut short due to COVID-19, the Dematha Stags went 30-3, only losing one game in conference. So far this season, they've stayed undefeated at 5-0. Mike Jones, the 19-year head coach, has helped build this team into one of the nations best basketball teams. He was named as a co-recipient of the 2019 USA Basketball Developmental Coach of the Year award according to usab.com. He and the Stags won a national title in 2006. As long as Mike Jones stays with Dematha, they will continue their string of excellence.

2. Gonzaga College High School

2020-2021 MaxPreps National Ranking - 28

Notable College Players:

Kris Jenkins (Villanova, National Champion)

Chris Lykes (Miami)

Prentiss Hubb (Notre Dame)

Chuck Harris (Butler)

Terrance Williams (Michigan)

Myles Dread (Penn State)

Myles Stute (Vanderbilt)

Bryant Crawford (Wake Forest)

Anwar Gill (La Salle)

Gonzaga College High School consistently has a winning basketball program. Although Gonzaga doesn't have the notable NBA alumni that Dematha has, but they have produced many elite collegiate athletes that know how to win. Head Coach Steve Turner is Gonzaga's key to success. According to usab.com, the 17-year head coach has won numerous awards, including the National Gatorade Coach of the Year in 2016, ALL-MET Coach of the year in 2019, and WCAC coach of the year five times since he was hired. Gonzaga has an exciting future ahead, as their junior backcourt of Judah Mintz and Devin Dinkins look to continue to flourish. Richmond Spider's Basketball commit Malcolm Dread looks to lead this team as the only senior in the starting lineup. Expect Gonzaga to stay competitive on the national level for several more years.

3. Paul VI High School

2020-2021 MaxPreps National Ranking - 20

Notable College Players:

Jeremy Roach (Duke, top rated PG in high school class)

Aaron Thompson (Butler)

Brandon Slater (Villanova)

Anthony Harris (UNC)

Miles Latimer (Bucknell)

Paul VI is an emerging basketball powerhouse. Over the course of five years, PVI has had elite talent play at their school, including some of the highest rated players in the country. Jeremy Roach, starting point guard for Duke Basketball, went to PVI, leading them to a WCAC championship in 2020. He was rated as the 19th best player in the country his senior year. Today, they have Trevor keels and Knasir Dug McDaniel, two players ranked in the top 100 on 24/7 Sports. Both are receiving interest from some of the best college programs. Paul VI has the best young talent in the WCAC, so they may take Dematha's spot as top dog soon.

4. St. Johns High School

2020-2021 MaxPreps National Ranking - 46

Notable College Players:

Casey Morsell (Virginia)

Anthony Cowan Jr. (Maryland)

Reese Mona (Maryland)

Nate Britt (UNC)

Ishmael Legget (Rhode Island)

Darius Maddox (Virginia Tech)

Jeff Dowtin Jr. (Rhode Island)

St. Johns High School has stayed one of the most consistent basketball teams in the WCAC. Much like Gonzaga, they have contended nationally for years but has had no NBA talent. Anthony Cowan Jr., one of the most notable St. John's alumni, made his mark on college basketball in his four years at Maryland, averaging 16.3 points per game and 4.7 assists per game in his senior season. Last year, St. Johns had a record of 24-9 led by Senior Ishmael Legget with 18.3 points per game. Their freshman Amani Hansberry looks to take a bigger role this year, as he averaged the second most amount of points on the team last year. He looks to be a promising big man, standing at 6'8, and will be attracting D-1 offers soon.

Other Notable NBA/College Players/Coaches from the WCAC:

Melo Trimble (Maryland) - Bishop O'Connell

John Thompson Sr. (Georgetown Head Coach) - Archbishop Carrol

Tegra Izray (La Salle) - Archbishop Carrol

John Flowers (West Virginia) - St. Mary's Ryken

The WCAC conference has done a great job of traveling the country and competing with some of the best teams high school basketball has to offer. In the past five years, WCAC teams have played basketball powerhouses such as Sierra Canyon, Whitney Young, Monteverde, Mater Dei (CA), IMG, McEachern, and St. Vincent St. Marys. The top four teams in the conference are always looking for a challenge.

The DC area is known for having some great hoopers, but the WCAC is the most consistent basketball factory. The area gathers together to watch these games often because so much talent runs through the conference. Conference games are oftentimes filmed and streamed for a wide audience to see.

Not often do you see a conference in which four teams are frequently ranked within the top 50 teams in the country. The WCAC is the most talented conference and will continue to excel on the court for years to come. The future already looks bright for the young, underclassmen these programs have.