"It's All About The Game"
Curtis Malone: Reports of DC Assault’s Demise Exaggerated
Ron Bailey, Publisher
September 26, 2006 – There have been rumblings in the AAU/travel team world, that after their bumper crop of 17-and-under performers go off to college, DC Assault’s viability as a nationally recognized organization would wane, if not cease.
If you are involved in youth basketball, particularly in the Washington, DC area, you’ve heard the talk. That school of thought, is in part informed by Assault’s impressive set of seniors, chock full of highly regarded players headed for big time college hoops - like the Blue team’s Darnell Dodson (Pitt), and Gus Gilchrest (VA Tech). When you add the organization’s Gold team, that includes Mike Beasley (Kansas State), Austin Freeman (Georgetown), and Nolan Smith (Duke), it’s clear not many youth basketball outfits can match Assault’s current 17-and-under division talent level. And it’s also true that most teams, after losing that many big time kids would be, at least temporarily, in a rebuilding mode.
Members of Assault's Gold team (17's), seen here at the Charlie Weber's Spring Fling. they are left to right, front to back: Ray Brewer (alumni), Nolan Smith, Coach Mike Sumner Sr. and son, Austin Freeman. Bark row: Coach Daman Handan, Kenechuka Obi, Julian Vaughan, Mike Beasley, and Jamar Samuels. (Note: Samuels and Obi competed at various times with the Blue team)
Not DC Assault, according to its director and coach, Curtis Malone. “In terms of any of that, I just don’t see it” said Malone via telephone, perplexed, slightly irritated, and volume level rising every so slightly. “We aren’t going anywhere!”
Malone would continue to establish his position. “I hear different stuff every year” he said. The man who was instrumental in starting Assault around 13 years ago then speculated much of the negative talk emanates from “people who want to be Curtis Malone” and are envious of Assault’s success.
Addressing the position that Assault’s cupboards are bare, Malone opined, “I might be mistaken, but the best players are in DC Assault’s stable”. He then gave a cursory, yet convincing defense of his position.
“Last year, we ended up putting together two teams of kids (at the 17-and-under level), because I had some young players, and I didn’t want to cut anybody” he shared. “Every one of those kids will end up getting a Division I offer”.
With Assault’s Gold team constructed as presented above, plus boasting future Wake Forest Demon Deacon Dominque Sutton, and FSU Seminole-to-be Julian Vaughan, amongst others, there is not doubt that squad is chockfull of future big time college ballers. But Malone also established that a boat load of talent existed on the other 17-and-under squad, which he designated Assault’s ‘B’ team (the Blue team).
“Dodson is going to the Big East and Gus is going to the ACC , and Isaiah Tate (George Mason), who didn’t even get off the bench at DeMatha” all participated, said Malone. Additionally, he indicated Ryan Burts, Jamar Samuels, Jordan Brooks, and Mike Davis – all Blue team guys – would be Division I student-athletes in their own right.
Assault Blue (17's), posing at a Charlie Weber event. From left to right: Sean Hawkins (40), Ryan Burts (12), Gus Gilchrest (number obscured), Roscoe Davis (tee shirt, center), Isiah Tate (13), Darnell Dodson (back with tee shirt) and Jordan Brooks (11).
Not stopping there, Malone broached the subject of Assault’s 16-and-under lineup. “Every player on this team will play at a high level” of college hoops, he stated. The squad included the likes of James Stewart, Roscoe Davis, Cameron Johnson, Marquis Simmons, Nicco Fricchioni and other talented young men. This team, will form the basis of next year’s 17-and-under offering.
In comparing Assault’s 17-and-under teams to its 16-and-under group, Malone admitted “Of course we will never have a class like we just had. This class is unbelievable”. But Assault’s head guy doesn’t’ expect less from the younger crew, and is looking forward to working with them.
“I might even enjoy coaching this team more (than last summer’s 17’s), because they don’t have any superstars” stated Malone later in the conversation. “From a team standpoint, we have a good team…we are going to play on the last day” of tournaments – a standard Malone shared is constantly met by DC Assault’s squads. In fact, at several times during the conversation, he stated “You can count on one hand the number of times we didn’t make it out of the pool (the initial round of AAU/travel team play)” across all Assault age groupings, during his tenure as leader.
Regarding the younger levels of competition, Malone also sees no slippage;
again despite growing and common perceptions. “When you look at
my 9th graders (15-and-under), I had the best players” he said,
while the 14-and-under team “was very good”, and in contrast
to much of their competition, included “all 8th graders”.
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