Because asking my media and writing colleagues to rank the best teams in the DMV during their precious free time was not enough of an imposition, I also asked for their take on unsung players in the area. Their offerings with some of my own are below. Based on the selections, it's probably fair to say the kids around town are alright...
Joe McDonald, George Washington - Part of the Colonials impressive freshman class, the 6-foot-1 McDonald's early play had some wondering whether he truly had a lead guard skill set. After the Landon product's starring role in GW's two-game sweep in New England, such wonders have quieted. First, McDonald tallied 16 points and 10 assists in Saturday's win over UMass. Against Rhode Island on Wednesday, he scored 11 of his 12 points over the final 11 minutes, including what became the game-winning jumper with 9.3 seconds left. (Ben Standig, CSNwashington)
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown -- The freshman is picking up more minutes now that Greg Whittington is currently academically ineligible. While Smith-Rivera doesn't have Whittington's length, he adds another dimension on offense as a player who, along with Markel Starks, can get to the basket. The 6-foot-3 guard, who played at Oak Hill last season, has 22 rebounds in his last four games and more total boards on the season than 6-foot-9 Mikael Hopkins, the Hoyas starting center. (Bobby Bancroft, 106.7 The Fan)
Isaiah Armwood, George Washington -- I'm not sure if he's unsung enough, but the first player that comes to mind is GW's big man. The Villanova transfer leads his team in scoring, rebounding and blocks. He has the ability to single-handedly keep GW in games against Top 25-caliber competition (see: the Kansas State game), so keep an eye on him. (Nicole Auerbach, USA Today)
Briante Weber, VCU -- The sophomore guard averages just about 6 points, 4 assists and 3.5 rebounds. Not gaudy stats, but he ranks second in the country in steals per game at 3.5. The up-tempo Rams enter Thursday's matchup against cross-town rival Richmond riding a 13-game winning streak. (Brendan Darr, 106.7 The Fan)
Marko Gujanicic, George Mason - The Patriots have been searching for the right frontcourt mix of offensive production without sacrificing rebounding and defense. The 6-foot-8 Serbian forward might be the answer. Over his last three games - all George Mason wins - the freshman is averaging 8.6 points, 8.0 rebounds in 19.7 minutes off the bench with four 3-pointers. In Wednesday's win over Towson, Gujanicic had 12 points, a team-high nine rebounds, the Patriots only two 3-pointers and effectively guarded Towson's star forward Jerrelle Benimon. (Standig)
Others...American's perimeter threat John Schoof (Woodson) scored a career-high 27 points and made 8 of 10 3-pointers against Navy on Wednesday. The sophomore guard is perfect on 24 free throws this season. ...After dropping its MAAC opener, Loyola has won five of six conference games. In that stretch, guard Dylon Cormier averaged 18.1 points. Earlier this season the junior rocked Memphis for 25 points. ... Coppin State's 6-foot-5 forward Michael Murray leads the MEAC with 9.4 rebounds.