Tuesday, November 14, 2006


November 15, 2006

Recently, Big East Basketball Report got the chance to learn a little more about another Washington DC-area basketball powerhouse when Eleanor Roosevelt High School head coach Brendan O’Connell graciously provided us with a look at his program in Greenbelt, MD.

Last season, Eleanor Roosevelt finished 25-2, losing in the State 4A Finals to Walt Whitman High School. This year’s team will have a much different as six of their top eight players have moved on, including PF Jourdan Morris to St. Bonaventure, SG Jon Ntoko, PG Patrick Prewitt and SG Rdell Spinks to Division III Marymount and Tim Morton and Branden McDonald are prepping this season at SW Christian.

Eleanor Roosevelt is no stranger to producing top talent as, within just the last 10 years, players such as Delonte
West (St. Joseph's and Boston Celtics), Eddie Basden (UNC Charlotte),
Delonte Holland (DePaul), Jared Gaither (University of Maryland -
football), Alpha Bangura (St. John's), Marshall Jackson (Army), Gordon
Klaiber (Farleigh Dickinson) and Victor Akinganjou (Quinnapiac) have come through the basketball program and moved onto Division 1-A schools like Morris and Ntoko from last year’s team.

As Coach O’Connell prepares for a little bit of a rebuilding job in his 2nd full season at the helm, he does have a pair of seniors to start the building process around: Sean Hawkins and Darnell Dodson. Hawkins is a 6’6, 300 lb behemoth that certainly sounds like Jared Gaither from a previous edition of the Eleanor Roosevelt program.

However, the true centerpiece to this season’s team will be the 6’7, 220 lb Dodson, who has committed to play for the University of Pittsburgh next season. Dodson averaged 15 PPG and shot 42% from 3-pt range last season while earning All-Metro 3rd team honors and 1st team all Prince George’s County. Coach O’Connell’s praise for Dodson was effusive: “Darnell has made his name as a shooter, but he has improved his game in almost all aspects. He is a fabulous shooter with great range, he has a knack for finishing around the basket, he has an ability to handle the ball as well. He can and will play all 5 positions on the court for us this year. With all this being said, he still is not near his peak...Pittsburgh is getting a very good player.

In the recruiting process, Dodson was receiving heavy interest from Maryland, Georgetown, Florida, Virginia Tech, George Mason, etc when he decided on Pitt in the summer. When asked on why Dodson chose Pitt and Jamie Dixon, Coach O’Connell replied, “He enjoyed his visit to the Pittsburgh campus very much and liked the atmosphere up there. His connection with the Pittsburgh coaching staff also contributed to deciding on Pittsburgh.”

We would like to thank Coach O’Connell again for taking the time to allow us to learn more about his Eleanor Roosevelt program and give Big East fans a little preview of what Darnell Dodson will bring to the Pittsburgh Panthers in the future. We hope to check on with Coach O’Connell as the season gets underway to see how his young squad is progressing. Best of luck this season!


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