- David Auguste, ESPN.com Editor
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Each week this summer leading up to the AAU National Championships in Orlando in July, ESPNHS will profile one of the nation's top AAU teams and tell you why you should be paying attention.
Team: D.C. Assault
Location: Washington, D.C.
Coach: Eddie Jordan
What you need to know about D.C. Assault:
If you ever get out to a D.C. Assault practice, make sure to keep an eye out for the front entrance.
Frequent visitors and program alums Michael Beasley, Nolan Smith, Quinn Cook, Keith Bogans or Tyler Thornton could come strolling through the gym for an impromptu pick-up game with the current members -- you know, just to make sure the young guns are ready to rep the squad the right way.
Since its inception, Assault has landed nine of its ballers in the McDonald’s All-American Game and spawned the career of a multitude of collegiate and NBA stars. The program’s stellar player development puts Assault in exclusive company nationally, as does its new head coach, Eddie Jordan. The former Washington Wizards coach, who recorded more than 250 wins in the Association, is in his first year at the helm of the Under Amour-sponsored squad and is hoping to orchestrate a championship campaign with the loaded U-17 Gold squad. He has quickly instilled an NBA-like work ethic in his players with a strong emphasis on defense.
“Our identity is to really get after you,” says Jordan. “All of our guys defend. We like to run out and play in the open floor.
“We don’t take haphazard shots; we are very selective. We’re very cerebral and share the ball. You help your teammates first and then help yourself.”
Jordan inherited an extremely talented roster, with ESPN 100 members Nate Britt and Jenkins as the main headliners. Add in microwave scorer Nigel Johnson, post bruiser Junior Etou and versatile wing Ahmad Fields, and Jordan features a destructive lineup likely to spark barbershop discussions on where it ranks amongst Assault’s all-time great squads.
“It’s really about the way we choose our team,” says Jordan. “(Co-founder) Curtis Malone and his staff chose the right kind of people. They’re good players but they’re also good people.”
Jordan guided Assault to the title at the Real Deal in the Rock in Arkansas, taking down a Houston Defenders team that features a pair of top-10 guards in highly touted twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison in the finals. Assault also advanced to the final four in two other tourneys, giving Jordan high hopes for the upcoming July schedule.
“It hurts when they lose, because they want to be the best,” says Jordan.
Nate Britt: Britt has the makeup of an elite point guard, displaying a knack for penetrating defenses to score or to create easy looks for teammates. The UNC commit is rated the No. 22 player (No. 3 PG) in the ESPN 100 and has proved to be a valuable leader playing at Gonzaga the past two years. Britt, a smooth stroking lefty and a flytrap defender, qualified for the USA Men's U18 national team earlier this week.
Kris Jenkins: The 6-foot-6 Jenkins is an undersized power forward for Gonzaga during the high school season, but he will play the 3 in Jordan’s offense. He is a versatile inside-outside threat and has the tools (perimeter shooting and ability to attack the cup) to excel in the 1-3 pick-and-roll sets along with Britt.
Nigel Johnson: This dynamic, Virginia-bred guard turned heads in February when he dropped a double-nickel during a regular season contest. “He’s just an assassin, and he reminds me of Gilbert Arenas,” says Jordan.
Junior Etou: A rugged, defensive-minded post, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Etou provides the squad with toughness on the interior and a strong presence on the boards. He holds offers from Kansas State, Maryland and West Virginia, among others.
Under Armour Summer Jam in Milwaukee, Wisc. on July 18-22
Fab 48 in Las Vegas, Nev. On July 26-29
We caught up with Jenkins to get his take on what he feels year’s squad can accomplish and how it can maintain the club’s rich pedigree.
“This is a team that’s going to play hard and give all we got and hopefully win a national tournament,” says Jenkins. “If we don’t win, we need to walk away with our heads high and know the ball just didn’t bounce our way.
“It would mean a lot (to win a national title) and go down in history as a D.C. team that won a national championship. It’s something this team is always working toward.”
Beasley (Minnesota Timberwolves forward)
Bogans (Chicago Bulls NBA guard)
Smith (Portland Trailblazers guard)
NaVorro Bowman (San Francisco 49ers LB)