The Matchup: No. 10 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) vs. traditional WCAC rival No. 7 St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) in Maryland at 7:30 p.m. ET
DeMatha player(s) to watch: The Stags are always piloted by five-star guard Markelle Fultz, an American Family Insurance ALL-USA Midseason Player of the Year candidates. Fultz, who is headed to Washington, is tough to stop with the ball in his hands, as both a creator for himself and his teammates. Fultz had 31 in a loss to Montverde Academy, which was No. 1 at the time, and had 20 in a loss to Oak Hill Academy in the Les Schwab Invitational final earlier this year, and the Stags’ recent run back up the Super 25 standings have coincided with Fultz taking even more authority over the game since. It’s also worth keeping an eye on Nate Darling, who also plays in a shooting guard/sometimes swingman role and has signed to play at UAB. DeMatha’s post presence is still developing, but has plenty of talent in the form of juniors D.J. Harvey, a 6-foot-7, borderline top-10 prospect in the Class of 2017 being recruited by just about everyone, and center Josh Carlton, a three-star prospect with high upside.
St. John’s player(s) to watch: The Cadets are led by another guard, Maryland-bound four-star senior Anthony Cowan Jr., who will face off mano-a-mano against Fultz in one of the nation’s premier point guard showdowns. Cowan can score in bunches, particularly when he can lose his defender along the perimeter; he recently connected on seven treys in a single game. Cowan’s backcourt mate, Jeff Dowtin, can also fill up the bucket whenever he can get free from deep. Like DeMatha, the Cadets’ strength inside is young, with 6-foot-7 220-pound bruiser Stefon Fisher leading the way inside.
What to expect: As has been the case with so many WCAC matchups this year, this one could be epic. The last time the two schools faced off, DeMatha eked out a 59-57 victory at St. John’s, despite the Cadets leading for 32 of 34 minutes. The surprise breakout star in that game was DeMatha’s Ryan Allen, and this contest could end up with an unforeseen contributor coming through big again. It’s hard to see where St. John’s has a matchup advantage, though Dowtin may be able to find more space with the DeMatha defense definitely focusing Cowan after the St. John’s star led his team — and the entire contest for that matter — with 26 points.