Lewis one to watch in 2012
Sidwell Friends School (Washington, D.C.) is one of the oldest and most prestigious private schools in America, educating the sons and daughters of former presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton and currently teaching President Barrack Obama's daughters.
Lewis averaged 16 points, five assists, five rebounds and two steals per game as a freshman varsity starter for Eric Singletary, the Quakers' head basketball coach, in 2008-2009.
"He is a very mature young man, both as a person and as a player," Singletary said of Lewis. "He had some rough spots and some learning processes as a freshman, but on the balance, he played exceptionally well."
The Quakers play in the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC), which is comprised of small, academically rigorous private high schools in the Washington area.
Lewis started attending Sidwell Friends School, a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school, as an eighth grader, and was recruited by many of the prep basketball powers in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) before deciding to remain at Sidwell and complete his high school career.
"Obviously, as a new coach here I was very excited that he decided to stay here for high school," Singletary said. "I think it sent a great signal to kids who are good players and good students that it's OK to come to a school like Sidwell. By Jamal staying at Sidwell, I think it not only helps Sidwell, it helps the whole MAC."
The Quakers went 12-12 in 2008-2009. It was Singletary's first season as a head coach after serving as an assistant coach at Gonzaga High School in the WCAC.
"Things are going pretty well here. I'm excited," Singletary said. "We have some more good young players coming in next year, too. At a school like Sidwell, you have to identify the right kind of young student-athlete and sell them and their families on the positives of this kind of academic environment."
Singletary is a personal example of the value a Sidwell Friends education provides. An excellent student-athlete at Sidwell, Singletary parlayed his career as a Quaker into a basketball scholarship to Rice University.
As a former Division I college basketball guard himself, Singletary has no doubt that Lewis has the ability to be a D-I college prospect.
"He is a legitimate, big-time talent," Singletary said. "He is really quick. He is explosive and has a good basketball body. He is already about 160 pounds as a freshman, and he could get taller still. His dad is 6-1, 6-2, so Jamal may grow another couple of inches. He is a smart player, and he really loves to compete and to win.
"As talented as Jamal is, he works hard at his game. Like any young player, he can still improve his defense, and get a little more consistent with his shot. The good thing is that he likes to play defense; he has good defensive intensity. He is a fast learner and a hard worker, so you know he is a player who will reach his potential."
Lewis has already established a fairly significant reputation as a college prospect through his play on a prominent AAU team, D.C. Assault.
Wayne Lewis, who is a coach with D.C. Assault and Jamal's father, said Jamal is already hearing from some colleges.
"It's early, of course, and a lot of [the college interest] is just letters at this point, but Jamal is hearing from Penn, and he's going to a camp up at Penn this summer," Wayne said. "He's also going to the University of Virginia's Elite Camp. Jamal has gotten some letters from the University of Maryland and Xavier. He has also gotten letters from Wichita State and Oregon State."
Singletary can look forward to three more seasons with Lewis in the backcourt. Meanwhile, one can be sure that college coaches and recruiters will find their way to Sidwell Friends to scout him as, potentially, one of the best young guards in the region in the Class of 2012.
James Quinn covers high school basketball for MDVarsity.com
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