Every year around this time, in early December, the upper campus of St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School (SSSAS) knows to expect both some new and familiar faces arriving for a weekend stay in the Alexandria, VA area. This completely has to do with SSSAS hosting their annual ‘Sleepy Thompson Basketball Tournament,’ one of the most prestigious high school hoops events in the Northern VA region. Named after the legendary Saints coach, Albert L. “Sleepy” Thompson (1925-1992), this event has been occurring for the last several decades, dating back to 1955. Coach Thompson started the tournament himself, as eight teams come together to compete each year. Fast forward to today, and I had the privilege to check out some of the action up close for the first time this past weekend. With some sensational player showings, college coaches in attendance, and rowdy student sections all in the mix, I see why residents in the area mark their calendars for this one every season.
Day 1 (12/6)
Maret School – 69
Trinity Episcopal School – 47
Episcopal HS – 69
Bishop Sullivan HS – 50
SSSAS – 81
T.C. Williams HS – 61
Benedictine – 54
Carmel School – 47
Day 2 (12/7)
Bishop Sullivan HS – 76
Trinity Episcopal School – 63
Carmel School – 70
T.C. Williams HS – 65
Episcopal HS – 81
Maret School – 52
SSSAS – 93
Benedictine – 40
Day 3 (12/8) * I was not able to attend
7th Place game: Trinity Episcopal beats T.C. Williams HS, 65-50
5th Place Game: Bishop Sullivan HS beats Carmel School, 59-50
3rd Place Game: Maret School beats Benedictine, 57-47
SSSAS – 89
Episcopal HS – 58
Some Team Notes
- With each of their games packed full of supporters, SSSAS ended the weekend victorious in protecting their home floor and winning the gold. The Saints looked best when grabbing the ball and taking off; they have several guards/wings who can zoom down open lanes to create easy buckets. A frontcourt presence complemented the team’s production in getting paint points just as well, if not, better than any other team throughout the event. After making it to the semi-finals of the VISAA Division I state tournament last season, I expect us to soon see the Saints in a likewise situation come March.
- Overall, Episcopal had the best team shooting performance during their run to the championship game. With prolific scorers like brothers, Xavier ‘19 and Darius Johnson ’21, the Maroons racked up points in a hurry early on in their first two games to make opposing teams feel uneasy as they went into halftime. The depth of Episcopal’s roster didn’t really show much of a threat, but the talent and confident offense of the team makes them an exciting program in Alexandria, VA.
- I’d say Maret School impressed the most at executing a 4-around-1 offense. Their guards may not have the same scoring prowess compared to a team like Episcopal, but the Fighting Frogs moved the ball well and showed effectiveness in drawing defenders for kick-outs to spot-up shooters. The team shot the ball ok… an aspect of their game that can still use some work. Running offensive sets quickly and efficiently helped them the most in their first game. On the defensive end, Maret played tough and smart, especially in trying to protect the basket; they drew some of the most charge calls in the tournament.
- If I had to pick a team that showed some of the most heart… it’d probably have to go to T.C. Williams. In both of their first two games, the Titans found themselves behind for most of each contest but NEVER stopped giving effort in trying to fight their way back in it. They especially caught my eye in their second game against Carmel. After a slow shooting start in the opening quarter, the squad begin to find more of a rhythm from the perimeter in the second quarter and then really turned up the intensity once the second half arrived. The Titans’ guards have solid strength and speed that makes them hard to keep out of the lane once they see an opening. Defensively, they have their lapses at times but can really seize momentum once everybody’s locked in; this showed when they decided to go into a press. While their tournament record might not appear as eye-popping, I’m sure T.C. Williams earned some respect from a few watching them for the first time.
Day 1 Performers
EJ Jarvis ’19 – Maret School: The Yale commit completely dominated the tournament’s opening game… no easier way to put it. Prior to this past Thursday, It was my first time seeing him in action, so he REALLY had me in awe. He stands as a 6’8” lefty forward who tries to make a play every single time when it comes to rebounding on both ends. In Maret’s 4-around-1 structure, their guards did a nice job of getting the ball to Jarvis anywhere around the interior, where he took care of the rest. He looked comfortable shooting in the mid-range area, swatted away several floaters, and finished with power around the rim. His free throws will need some more work but I see a promising future career at Yale for the senior. Put up a near double-double of 33 points (game-high) and nine rebounds, along with three blocks, in Game 1 of Day 1.
Xavier Johnson ’19 – Episcopal HS: A player I’ve heard much chatter about, the 6’1” combo guard looked best when attacking in transition; he can make moves in either direction for finishes, fouls, and/or AND-1s. His strength mainly helps him with this skill, along with making his way into the paint and getting position for rebounds. Johnson’s handle let him get to his spots at any point in time and he showed some range on his three-point shot. In all, his ability to create shots off the bounce for himself and others made him a tough guard for Bishop Sullivan HS to contain. The George Mason Patriots will be getting a good one with him joining the program next season. Johnson finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
Quincy Allen ’21 – Maret School: I took a serious double take when I realized Allen had only started his sophomore season… he showed one of the most balanced games during Day 1. His vision to find Jarvis near the rim led to several of the senior forward’s 33 points. Offensively, Allen shot the ball well both as a stationary shooter (4 three-pointers) and off of dribble pull-ups. He never appeared in a rush and made the right decisions to increase his team’s lead more and more as the game continued on. Defensively, the 6’6” sophomore looked really solid; he still needs to put on some muscle (obviously at this age) but plays tough against stronger opponents. His stat line of Game 1 included 20 points (over 57% shooting), four rebounds, six assists, and two blocks.
Andre Screen ’20 – SSSAS: The junior big man wasted no time in showing an assertiveness in the paint once the Saints first tourney contest tipped off. He sealed hard inside and demanded the rock, especially when he noticed a size advantage. Screen showed a good focus in determining what move to make once he had the rock; he didn’t ever rush or end up settling for a below-average look. His size, at 6’9” and 240 lbs., played a big part in him drawing fouls and giving his team the most second chance opportunities on Thursday evening. SSSAS has a couple of weapons in the frontcourt and I feel Screen has the potential to have the biggest impact on the glass due to his nose for the ball. He finished with the lone double-double of Game 3 during Day 1, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds; both game-highs. Seven out of his 12 rebounds were offensive.
Evan Castellanos ’21 – Benedictine: Another young face on the court, Castellanos affected Benedictine’s first game/win in several ways. While he struggled in his field-goal shooting, the sophomore forward put on a defensive display on neutralizing Carmel’s bigger players from scoring around the rim and forcefully grabbed defensive rebounds to not let up any second opportunities for the Wildcats. His unselfishness translated to him finding his teammates on the perimeter. In addition, he ran the floor well to beat his defender and draw fouls. Already standing at 6’6,” I have a feeling Castellanos still has a lot of room to grow physically; his versatility on the floor already stands apparent. In Benedictine’s win, he had 11 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks.
Day 2 Performers
Henry Coleman ’20 – Trinity Episcopal: After showing out with a double-double of 19 points and 15 rebounds during Day 1, Coleman went off yet again in the first game of Day 2 against Bishop Sullivan. He rebounded in the tournament better than any other showings I’ve seen from him. With his gifted size, Coleman recognized opportunities to score in the paint with patience and effort. He had one spurt in the 1st half where he scored about eight points in a row, all in different ways. Coleman’s had some games where his offensive efficiency looks better than others but, if he continues to use his strength more near the rim and not settle for contested outside looks, I don’t see anything stopping him from getting over a 50-55% field goal percentage each game. He had 28 points against the Crusaders. I didn’t get the final stats of rebounds… but I’m confident in saying it was around double-figures.
Darius Johnson ’21 – Episcopal HS: I thought Johnson stood out in his 19-point performance in Episcopal’s first game against Bishop Sullivan on Day 1. Nevertheless, he completely erased any memory of that game with, in my own opinion, the best offensive outpouring in the entire tournament when Friday night arrived. Matched up against Maret School, the 6’1” shooting guard erupted for a game-high 35 points on 13-19 shooting from the field. Johnson showed some SERIOUS range on his shot; stretching to that of NBA-range. After hitting most of his three-pointers (4-7 total) in the first half, he started using his hesitation moves well to get in the paint and finish with serious finesse. Johnson was my pick as the best shooter and finisher I saw in the event; he does best as a finisher in transition. Along with his scorching offensive game, the guard also grabbed 11 rebounds; more than any other guard in the contest and second-most overall after Jarvis’ 13 boards.
Brandon Cline ’19 – Bishop Sullivan HS: After more of a quiet performance against Episcopal, Cline came into Friday’s contest looking to make more of an impact on the scoring end. He succeeded in just that, as he found more of a groove in his shooting and finishing at the rim. At one point in the third quarter, Cline just completely took over; his team put up 33 points in that period alone. Along with his production, I feel Cline’s the senior presence that Bishop Sullivan needs to lead them. He always called out assignments and showed much encouragement all tournament long. Finished with 19 points in the win against Trinity Episcopal.
Josh Campbell ’20 – Carmel School: As one of the leaders for the Wildcats, I’m guessing Campbell noticed how his team played nowhere near to their usual strengths on the first night and had a goal to make sure that wouldn’t happen again. The junior guard exploded for one of the more noteworthy stat lines of the day: 22 points, 17 rebounds, and six assists. The majority of all of this came in the second half, when the game became closer after T.C. Williams’ went on a run. Campbell does best at shooting the ball but did well in getting defenders off of him to finish at the basket. He’ll definitely need to diminish his turnovers as these games move on, but his value to the Carmel roster really showed its importance in this tournament. One to keep an eye on in Ruther Glen, VA.
Jaquan Johnson ’19 – T.C. Williams HS: As I mentioned earlier, T.C. Williams struggled shooting the ball against Carmel’s defense at first during their matchup on Day 2. However, late in the first quarter, the Titans started to catch some fire and the result mainly stemmed from Johnson’s aggression in hunting down his shot. The 6’1” guard really found a spark that kept his team in the game, going into the second half. He knocked down more triples than anyone else during the day, with seven, and finished with a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds. When the shot opportunity didn’t present itself, he found his teammates for their own looks, as he chipped in four assists as well. Shooting the ball more efficiently and not showing hesitation on taking his jumpers will both serve as the next two steps for Johnson.
Thank you to SSSAS for the hospitality and putting on a great event!