Led By RJ Barrett, 9 Montverde Alumni Feature In 2019 NCAA Tournament

Prep basketball powerhouse Montverde Academy sends numerous recruits to the NCAA ranks every year. No surprise, then, that the Eagles are well-represented in the 2019 NCAA Tournament field. 

With rising stars, key role players and a national player of the year contender, Montverde alumni have the opportunity to leave indelible impacts on college basketball’s most prominent stage. 

1. R.J. BARRETT | Duke Blue Devils

First-Team All ACC selection R.J. Barrett had a monster year for overall No. 1 seed Duke. The leader of Montverde’s 2018 national championship-winning team, Barrett’s multifaceted game translated to the college hardwood immediately. His 22.9 points per game ranked No. 14 in the nation, and tops the ACC. 

Barrett also put up 7.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game, brilliantly complementing fellow freshman phenom Zion Williamson. The duo could go 1-2 in this coming summer’s NBA draft. But first, they will pursue Duke’s second national championship in just five seasons.

2. JORDAN CAROLINE | Nevada Wolf Pack

After landing at Nevada via transfer from Southern Illinois, Jordan Carolina became an immediate cornerstone in Wolf Pack basketball’s resurgence. 

The 6-foot-7 Caroline’s blend of inside and outside skills factored prominently into each of Nevada’s three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and has had him hovering around a double-double average each campaign. He comes into the 2019 Tournament posting 17.3 points and a career-best 9.6 rebounds per game for a Nevada team hoping to improve on last year’s Sweet 16 finish.  

3. NOAH DICKERSON | Washington Huskies 

Washington has steadily built to ending a seven-year NCAA Tournament drought. Noah Dickerson’s been key to the building process, posting double-figures in scoring each of the last three seasons.

Dickerson tips off the Huskies’ first NCAA Tournament since 2012 posting 12.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for the Pac-12 regular-season champion Huskies. 

4. DAVONTA JORDAN | Buffalo Bulls

Davonta Jordan has been a key contributor to one of the most unlikely stories in college basketball the last few seasons. A starter in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Jordan helped the University of Buffalo rout national powerhouse in the first round of last season’s NCAA Tournament, and has aided in the Bulls' almost wire-to-wire spot in the Associated Press Top 25 this season. 

Jordan was on the 2015-16 Montverde varsity team, one year before heading to Buffalo. 

5. CHRIST KOUMADJE | Florida State Seminoles

Florida State employs one of the longest lineups in college basketball, and the Seminoles branch out from the middle. At 7-foot-4, Christ Koumadje is the tallest player in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. 

Koumadje’s shot-altering presence in the interior helps facilitate the nation’s No. 9 adjusted defense, per KenPom.com efficiency metrics. The native of Chad began to develop as a player in his time at Montverde, which included a spot on the 2014-15 national championship team.  

6. SANDRO MAMUKELASHVILI | Seton Hall Pirates

Georgia national Sandro Mamukelashvili transitioned from reserve to full-time starter for Seton Hall this season. The 6-foot-10 Mamukelashvili took over the center spot that All-American Angel Delgado adeptly manned previously, and performed admirably with averages of 8.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. 

Mamukelashvili rolls into the NCAA Tournament fresh off of some of his best performances at the college level, including a 12-point, 18-rebound showing against defending national champion Villanova just prior to the Big East Conference Tournament; another 14 rebounds against the Wildcats in the Big East Championship; and a 12-point, 10-rebound effort against Georgetown at Madison Square Garden. 

7. SEAN MOBLEY | VCU Rams

VCU basketball gained a national reputation last decade with an aggressive defensive approach, later parlayed into a surprise Final Four run in 2011. The Rams aim to use their top 10 defensive efficiency to return to the Final Four in 2019, with Montverde product Sean Mobley pitching in. 

Mobley started 22 games in the regular season and Atlantic 10 Tournament, contributing to VCU’s regular-season crown in the process. 

8. ANDREW NEMBHARD | Florida Gators 

Of the NCAA newcomers from Montverde’s 2018 national championship team, R.J. Barrett has garnered the lion’s share of national attention. Don’t sleep on Andrew Nembhard heading into his first NCAA Tournament, however. 

Nembhard has had a phenomenal freshman campaign, starting every game and registering 8.1 points, 5.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game for Florida. Nembhard captains the Gators into a first-round matchup against fellow Montverde alum Jordan Caroline and Nevada. 

9. FILIP PETRUSEV | Gonzaga Bulldogs

Freshman big man Filip Petrusev averaged 6.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in reserve duty for West Region No. 1 seed Gonzaga. 

Petrusev scored a career-high 15 points in a win on Feb. 9 over fellow NCAA Tournament team Saint Mary’s. 


Kyle Kensing is a freelance sports journalist in southern California. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Vets Shengelia, Huertas Inspired Baskonia

KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz head coach Velimir Perasovic made two changes to the starting lineup from the side that lost by 26 points in Game 1. He replaced second-year players Vincent Poirier and Luca Vildoza with his two most experienced players, Toko Shengelia and Marcelinho Huertas. That move had a big impact on the game.

Ulanovas The Difference-Maker For Zalgiris In Game 2

What a difference 48 hours make. Zalgiris Kaunas held on to stun previously unbeaten at home Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul Thursday night. Its 82-80 road win against the best regular-season team tied at 1-1 their best-of-five series that looked like it could go only one way earlier this week.

Baskonia Overpowers CSKA To Even Series

KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz overpowered CSKA Moscow 68-78 on Thursday night at Megasport Arena to even their best-of-five playoff series at 1-1. 

Game 1 MVP: Vasilije Micic Of Anadolu Efes Istanbul

With Anadolu Efes Istanbul playing its first-ever Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs series opener on its home floor, point guard Vasilije Micic starred to help make the occasion a winning one and in the process became MVP for Game 1.

Luka Doncic Returns To Watch Old Team, Real Madrid

One year after he led them to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague title, teenage sensation Luka Doncic was back with his old teammates from Real Madrid on Wednesday to mark Game 1 of the team's best-of-five playoffs series against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens.

Zion Williamson Helps Couple With Gender Reveal

Apparently a dunk by Zion Williamson is good for just about everything.

Itoudis Praised CSKA's 'Almost Perfect' Effort

null

As fans of CSKA Moscow basketball surely know, Coach Dimitris Itoudis is not one to praise his charges falsely. When he analyzes his team's play after a game, win or lose, he will be honest and point out what his players must do to improve going forward. Itoudis is also quick to complement those who make the difference, but the coach believes in pushing CSKA to get better and works towards his team finishing the season (or marathon as he often calls it) in their finest form.

Fenerbahce's Dream Defense Set Records

null

If anyone wondered if Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, the best team in the regular season, had another level to step up, they got the proof on Tuesday night. Fenerbahce welcomed Zalgiris Kaunas to the Asian side of Istanbul and showcased its best-ever defensive performance to open the best-of-five series with a resounding 76-43 victory.

Warriors Still Favored To Win NBA Title Despite DeMarcus Cousins' Injury

Despite the season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins and despite blowing a 31-point lead to the Clippers in Game 2 of their first-round series on Monday night, the Warriors remain -220 favorites to win their third straight NBA title.

Road To The Playoffs: Real Madrid

Proudly carrying the precious title of defending Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion, Real Madrid has played like one for the majority of the regular season. After being crowned as a continental champion for a record 10th time last May, Madrid stormed out of the gate to start this campaign in October.