Washington a hotbed for NBA stars

By Darnell Mayberry, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: March 21, 2010
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INDIANAPOLIS — Thunder forward Jeff Green lived five minutes from Indiana center Roy Hibbert when the two grew up in the Maryland suburbs that neighbored Washington, D.C.

They played on the same youth team for a time as teenagers and often carpooled to practices and games. Down the road a ways was Kevin Durant and fellow talented youngsters Ty Lawson, Michael Beasley and Dante Cunningham. It was not uncommon during summer ball to see all of them on one court at one time.

"That meant we had good competition growing up,” Green said.

Together, they represent the latest crop of talent that has come out of the D.C. area, a region that has a long-standing tradition of producing elite players. Green, Durant and Hibbert will reunite today at 1:30 as the Thunder plays the Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Each time they get together, it serves as a reminder of how far they’ve come and just how deep their roots run.

"There are a lot of guys who are in the league now from that area,” Green said. "And you’ve got a lot of guys from that area in college who can play at this level. So it was good having that great competition around.”

The talent-rich area helped turn players like Green and Hibbert from prospects to pros.

"I had a long way to go so I wasn’t really talking about (the NBA),” Hibbert said of his early days. "But Kevin obviously knew where he was going from a young age. Jeff and myself had to work at some things to get to where we were able to get now. So we’re fortunate.”

Green and Hibbert teamed together on the D.C. Blue Devils, one of the area’s premier youth traveling teams. The younger Durant, who briefly teamed with Beasley with the PG Jaguars, and Lawson were on the Blue Devils’ junior team. Beasley went on to join the 17-and-under D.C. Assault, playing alongside players like current Duke guard Nolan Smith, Georgetown’s Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Julian Vaughn.

"So many guys came out of there, so many guys that people don’t know too much about but are good players,” said Durant.