Players To Watch In the 4A MPSSAA State Semifinals

High School

Posted On: 03/7/18 8:18 PM

We’re finally here. The final four of each class will take place tomorrow and Friday to see who locks their spots in for a chance at a state championship. We start with 4A, which will feature the defending state champion Perry Hall Gators going up against a young, talented Gaithersburg squad (7PM) followed by a tough-nosed Old Mill team facing off against a hot Bladensburg opponent (9PM).

Here are some players to keep an eye on heading into tomorrow night’s action.

LaQuill Hardnett | 6’9 | Perry Hall ’18

Hardnett is arguably the most talented player left in any of the classes. The Cincinnati commit is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists per game while also being the heartbeat of a very emotional Perry Hall team. For the last quarter of the season, Hardnett has switched his focus offensively to not settling for jumpshots. Instead, everything has been off the dribble and to the rim, which for his opponents, is almost impossible to stop.

Anthony Walker | 6’9 | Perry Hall ’19

Walker has been one of the most improved players in the state by far. After getting a taste of playing time in last season’s championship run after being moved up from junior varsity, the 6-foot-9 forward seems to improve every game he steps on the floor. In the regional championship against Paint Branch, Walker recorded 25 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Just a heads up, when you see Perry Hall out in transition and Walker is nearby, get your camera ready.

Anthony Higgs

Anthony Higgs | 6’8 | Perry Hall ’18

Higgs’ presence in the paint on both ends can often times gives teams issues. He crashes well on both ends and has developed an outside shot to make him a more difficult match up. The Ole Miss commit is averaging 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game. He and Hardnett will once again carry a heavy load in hopes of bringing Perry Hall their second-straight title.

Tyler Holley | 6’4 | Perry Hall ’18

Holley has been the unsung hero of this team for the past three years. You can sum up his game in one word: winner. He makes winning plays. Whether it’s making the game-winning lay up as time expires like he did earlier this season against Eleanor Roosevelt, or getting a defensive stop, Holley leaves it all on the floor. Every championship team needs a player like that and for Perry Hall, Holley is that guy.

Jao Ituka | 6’1 | Gaithersburg ’21

Ituka has been flat-out special this year for the 22-5 Trojans. The 14-year-old leads the team in scoring with 17.8 points per game. It isn’t often you see a freshman relentlessly attack the basket and have success like Ituka has shown. With their match up against Perry Hall’s trio of towers sitting in the paint, it’ll make for an interesting challenge for the young freshman, but judging by his play throughout this season, he won’t show any signs of backing down.

Jordan Hawkins | 6’4 | Gaithersburg ’21

Hawkins is the perfect complement for Ituka because of his ability to shoot the long ball. The 6-foot-4 freshman has averaged 12.4 points per. Similar to Ituka though, Hawkins is a fiery competitor that isn’t going to back down because of his age or inexperience. If anything, it makes the duo more dangerous because they don’t know anything except going all out for 32 minutes.

Daniel Oladapo
Daniel Oladapo is flying under the radar, but is considered a versatile division one prospect.

Daniel Oladapo | 6’7 | Bladensburg ’18

Oladapo will be the most physically imposing player seen in the state semifinals. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 24 points per game on an efficient 58 percent shooting from the field. He has been the main piece for the Mustangs, who have won 12 of their last 18 games. Oladapo is also pulling down 11 rebounds per contest. Bladensburg goes up against an athletic Old Mill team, but one that lacks size and physicality the way Oladapo brings, so look for him to be an impact player.

Tyshaun Walker | 6’0 | Bladensburg ’19

Walker is the calming presence in the backcourt for the Mustangs. The junior guard is averaging 13 points, five rebounds and three assists per game and does a nice job mixing it up between looking for his own shots and setting up guys like Oladapo for buckets.

Tyriq McAdoo | 6’6 | Bladensburg ’18

As if Oladapo’s size, physicality and athleticism isn’t enough, the Mustags have McAdoo to add insult to injury. The long, athletic forward is averaging 12 points on 49 percent shooting from the field while pulling in nine rebounds per game. Look for McAdoo to make his presence known tomorrow evening by crashing the offensive glass and using his size to counter Old Mill’s speed.

Avion Robinson | 5’10 | Old Mill ’19

Robinson is an explosive scorer. There’s no other way around it. The 5-foot-10 junior can be credited to the Patriots getting passed Annapolis in the regional championship because of his 21-point fourth quarter performance. Robinson can mix it up well from hitting three’s and finishing around the rim. Against Annapolis, he struggled mightily to find his shot from outside. So in the fourth quarter, he attacked Annapolis’ zone by dribbling through seams and finishing in the paint. Robinson is a big-time player, so don’t expect him to shy away from this moment, even if he doesn’t make his impact known in the first three quarters.

Hollique Johnson | 6’7 | Old Mill ’18

Johnson’s production will be key as he’ll have to deal with Bladenburg’s Oladapo and McAdoo. The 6-foot-7 forward has nice length and has shown ability to finish around the rim efficiently despite battling against more physical players. Johnson is second on the team in scoring averaging 12 points and grabbing eight rebounds per contest.

Daevone Johnson | 6’2 | Old Mill ’19

Along with Robinson, Johnson was a savior for the Patriots in the regional game against Annapolis. He paced Old Mill from the opening tip and scored a game-high 27 points, 10 of which came in the final frame. Johnson was scoring from all levels, but did most of his damage in transition and in the mid-range when playing in the halfcourt.

Mahzi Thames | 6’1 | Old Mill ’19

Thames transferred to Old Mill from Meade and has been a key in their success this season coming off the bench. The 6-foot-1 junior guard is averaging 10 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals per game. When Thames checks into the game, there seems to be an energy boost within the team. As we’ve seen in the past, production off the bench in these type of games could ultimately give one team the upper hand. We’ll see if Thames can be the x-factor tomorrow evening for head coach Mike Francis.