By Demetrius Dillard and José Umaña/The Sports Pulse Contributors
BALTIMORE – Student-athletes across Maryland comprised of the class of 2020 have experienced a year unlike any other graduating classes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, as part of Prince George’s County Public Schools’ (PGCPS) celebration of College Signing Day, this year’s seniors made it a point to celebrate and announce where they plan to begin the next phase of their lives. Here are some of the key commitments announced:
4A schools announce historic signings
Charles H. Flowers guard Kaniyah Harris reaffirmed her commitment to Howard University at the school’s virtual signing day while also announcing that she received more than $2 million in scholarship money. She led Flowers to its second consecutive county championship and a state semifinal berth while also being named the 2020 Prince George’s County 4A Player of the Year.
“What more can I say about Kaniyah Harris,” Head Coach Roderick Hairston said after her 25-point performance in the state quarterfinals on March 26. “This was her senior year and she plays like the best senior in state.”
In Upper Marlboro, signing day attention at Dr. Henry Wise Jr. High School, generally reserved for its football team in February, was shifted over to its basketball programs. First, boys basketball senior Kejuan Frager announced his decision to head to Texas, where he would attend Paris Junior College. The 5-foot-8 senior help lead the Pumas to its first state semifinal appearance since 2017.
Meanwhile, Lady Pumas point guard Mesa Floyd announced her commitment to Caldwell University after leading the team in points per game (17.3). Floyd’s 11-point performance on March 2 allowed Wise to earn its first state playoff win over rivals Eleanor Roosevelt.
Following a 19-win season, the Eleanor Roosevelt High School boys basketball team will say goodbye to multiple players, including All-County First Team star Quinton Mincey, who will attend Mount St. Mary’s in the fall. Raiders officials also confirmed that guard Olumide Lewis would head to St. Mary’s College of Maryland after graduation.
Meanwhile, at Laurel High School, girls lacrosse star Clara Larios-Soto became the first Lady Spartan to commit to playing the sport at the collegiate level, signing with Mount Aloysius College. The senior recalled meeting with the coaching staff last season and visiting their campus in Cresson, Pennsylvania.
While she was unable to play during her senior year, Larios-Soto said she plans to continue training at home and continue working on her stick work, to ease in the transition to the college game. Together with her announcement, Laurel confirmed that free safety Markus Smith would play football for Chowan University this fall.
“I never thought I would be making history as the first lacrosse player to be recruited from Laurel; it makes me happy that I did,” Larios-Soto said. “I would like to thank everybody who supported me throughout my journey, including my parents, coaches, teachers and teammates.”
After capturing a 4A/3A regional title, Bowie High School’s 126-pound wrestler Dainon Kappes announced on his Instagram account that he would be attending the University of Maryland as part Head Coach Alex Clemsen’s first recruiting class. Kappes finished his senior year with a 31-2 record and a 3.8 GPA. He joins cornerback Devan Parrish (Frostburg State University) as Bulldogs athletes announcing their college designations.
Several student-athletes elected to stay close to home and continue their athletic endeavors with Prince George’s Community College (PGCC). Joining the Owls’ men’s basketball team are Central High School’s 6-foot-5 center Michael Calloway, Northwestern High School guard Marquise Delahaye and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Jahari Simon.
Bladensburg High School boys soccer captain José Argueta will take his talents to PGCC as well, becoming the Owls first signing for the 2020 season. The midfielder scored seven goals and completed five assists as the Mustangs won their second consecutive regional title.
3A/2A/1A student-athletes stay local
After leading the Oxon Hill High School boys basketball to a 21-4 season, senior Ronald Polite decided to sign with George Mason. The 6-foot-2 guard emerged as one of the premier athletes in the area as he averaged 22.5 points and 5.5 assists per game. George Mason Head Coach Dave Paulsen spoke highly of Polite’s leadership qualities and sees a bright future for the youngster.
“He has excellent vision, is very unselfish and knows where the ball should go. He has a knack for finishing in the lane and is becoming an excellent long-range shooter,” Paulsen said. “He competes on both ends of the floor and improves every time I see him. He’s going to be a big college guard with outstanding versatility.”
Largo High School’s Vanessa Schwarzmann capped off a remarkable career as a 2019 All-County 3A/2A/1A First Team selection after averaging 19 points per game. Next season, she will play collegiate ball with the Community College of Baltimore County-Essex (CCBC-Essex). Fellow teammate Taylor Lewis, who earned All-County Honorable Mention recognition, announced her commitment to Coffeyville Community College.
Schwarzmann blossomed into a marksman from long range and discovered her role as a team captain by her junior year. While CCBC-Essex showed interest multiple times throughout the season, only one other school, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, attempted to recruit her during the season.
Because CCBC’s style of play welcomes 3-point shooting, signing with the program was virtually a no-brainer, the Lady Lions guard said.
“Really I feel like they were my only option and they were the most interested in me at the time,” Schwarzmann said. “I feel like they play the style that I play. I like to shoot 3s and that’s like what they do, so I feel like I can fit in.”
Largo’s track and field team, featuring members from last year’s state championship squad, announced their school commitments as well. They include Sade Panton (LIU-Brooklyn), Sanaya Ross and Alysha Pullium-Robinson (Chicago State University), Jaylen Jackson (NCCU) and Renaldi Falwell (Johnson and Wales).
Another local track athlete, Frederick Douglass High School’s Miles Gray, announced that he accepted a full athletic scholarship at Indiana Tech. On Feb. 1, Grey captured the 2A West Region Championship in the 300-meter race and finished second in the same event at the Indoor State Championships.
Gwynn Park High School Principal Melissa McGuire highlighted several scholar-athletes on their way to careers in collegiate sports, including girls basketball player Jenae Dublin. The 6-foot-2 guard will be playing for Iona College (N.Y.) after capping off her Yellow Jackets career by being named the 2020 PG County 3A/2A/1A Co-Player of the Year.
Potomac High School had several football players announce their college commitments early, including wide receiver Corey Dyches to Maryland and quarterback Dominique Anthony signing with Old Dominion.
However, several players from its 2A state runners-up squad made their commitments known on the special signing day, according to Coach Ronnie Crump. They include linebacker Anthony James (Marshall University); safety Xavier Dozier (Virginia Union University); defensive tackle Zion Pitman (West Virginia State); defensive tackle Donnell Watson (Chowan University); receiver Marquise Richardson (West Liberty University); tackle Maurice Hicks (Cisco Community College-Texas); receiver/safety Ortez Marshman (Bridgewater University); fullback Kwamai Phifer (Salisbury University); running back Dmarcus Holmes (Bluefield College); receiver Amir Anderson (Monterey Peninsula Community College); guard Kwane Booker (Anna Maria College) and guard David Moore (Bowie State).