ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The Capital Classic, the country's longest running high school basketball all-star game, held it's 41st annual competition between the United States All-Stars and the Capital (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) All-Stars Saturday night at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va.
Each team had a representative from Maryland's 2014 recruiting class playing in the game, with Bishop O'Connell's Romelo Trimble suiting up for the home team Capital All-Stars, and Westtown School's (Pa.) Jared Nickens playing for the visiting U.S. squad.
Two other top Maryland recruits, Life Center Academy's (N.J.) Trayvon Reed and Potomac (Md.) High School's Dion Wiley, were also invited to the classic as members of the U.S. and Capital teams respectively. But Reed had to sit out because of a minor foot injury that he suffered recently while volunteering at a charity baseball event at his school and Wiley couldn't make it at the last minute because he had to go visit his mother in New Jersey, according to his friend and future teammate Trimble.
Trimble started the game for the Capital All-Stars and had a very efficient outing in his 18 minutes, scoring 14 points on 5-12 from the field and an assist-turnover ratio of 5 to 1 to go along with 4 steals. Although it was a solid performance by Trimble, he claims that he is not the kind of player who plays his best in All-Star games.
"I'm not really an All-Star [game] type player," Trimble said. "I don't like coming out and taking 100 shots. I mean, people might say I shot a lot for my team, but if it's my team, whatever I have to do for a win that's what I'm going to do.
"I just wanted to come out here and play in front of the Maryland fans and just have fun. Like I said, I'm not really an All-Star [game] player, so I'm not really going to do too much.
"My mom and my little sister are here and my aunt and cousins are here, so I mean, I had fun, even if I'm not too much of an All-star player, I come out and play anyway."
Nickens on the other hand looked like he was competing in a regular game at times, hustling up and down the court and using his length to disrupt shots all night on defense. And that competitiveness, along with his 13 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block in 23 minutes off the bench, helped lead the U.S. team to a 139-134 victory, despite being down by nine heading into the fourth quarter.
"I was just looking to have fun, watch and compete at the same time, try to not do too much, and do what I do best," Nickens said.
"Defense was a big problem for the five that I was in with. We weren't getting back on defense, so in the half-court set I just tried to lock up. I was guarding James Palmer and Phil Booth and I did a pretty good job on them."
The game was relatively close throughout, with the Capital All-Stars actually leading for the majority. But thanks in large part to a flurry of late scoring by the game's MVP-The Patrick School's (N.J.) Angel Delgado, who had 23 points, 15 rebounds and will be attending Seton Hall next year as a power forward-helped by Trimble's only turnover of the game on his team's last possession, the U.S. team walked away on top.
The Capital All-Stars' top performer was future Louisville Cardinal Chinanu Onuaku out of Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, Md., with 21 points on 9-10 shooting and 14 rebounds, which was at least enough to impress Trimble.
"I really like Chinanu," Trimble said. "I played with him over the summer and his offense wasn't like it was today (laughing)."
Nickens also caught Trimble's eye, shooting 5-11 from the field, including 3-7 from behind the 3-point line, which is the type of performance that his counterpart in this game but future running mate at Maryland has come to expect from him.
"Jared can shoot," Trimble said. "A lot of people haven't really seen him play yet, but from what I have seen, he can shoot, he can get to the basket, he can dunk on you, and that's good for a wing [player]."
But Nickens and Trimble didn't get too much one-on-one experience, as the two were barely on the court together at the same time, until the last five minutes of the game, which they both finished out.
"[Playing against Trimble] was fun," Nickens said. "We didn't really guard each other. We guarded each other for a few possessions. I'm just looking forward to what's going to come next over the next four years."
The next four years seem like something that Terp fans can get excited over, with these two players coming in alongside Reed, Wiley, and potentially international 7-footer Michal Cekovsky.
Against good competition in this game, Nickens showed his talents as a two-way player, his silky shooting stroke, and his athleticism, while Trimble proved he can be a team's primary ball handler, pick player's pockets for steals, and go on quick scoring runs, especially when he drives to the hoop and gets to the line as he did for much of the second half.
Caleb Martin G/F 6'6 195 Oak Hill Academy (VA) (NC State)
Desi Rodriguez SF 6'5 200 Lincoln High School (NY) (Seton Hall)
Cody Martin G/F 6'6 195 Oak Hill Academy (VA) (NC State)
Ja'Quan Newton PG 6'2 180 Neumann-Goretti (PA) (Miami)
Angel Delgado PF 6'8 215 The Patrick School (NJ) (Seton Hall)
Dwayne Morgan PF 6'7 195 St. Frances Academy (MD) (UNLV)
Melo Trimble SG 6'2 175 Bishop O'Connell (VA) (Maryland)
James Palmer SG 6'5 190 St. John's College (D.C.) (Miami)
Trey Porter C 6'10 200 Potomac (VA) (G. Mason)
Phil Booth PG 6'4 186 Mount St. Joseph (MD) (Villanova)
Other Notable Performances:
Ja'Quan Newton: 22 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals
Wade Baldwin IV: 17 points, 6 assists, 2 steals
Trey Porter: 9 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks
Dwayne Morgan: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal