As a new class of freshmen descends on Foggy Bottom this summer, so does the next generation of GW athletes. Here are four Class of 2020 prospects who are poised to make an impact in their upcoming rookie campaigns. They might even be in your Colonial Inauguration small group:
Kevin Marfo, men’s basketball
Before joining the GW Class of 2020, Kevin Marfo was a star forward and captain of his team at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts. In his final high school season, he averaged an impressive 17 points and 13 rebounds per game, including 18 double-doubles in just 29 games.
After being named as an honorable mention for his junior season, Marfo was honored as a member of the NEPSAC Class AA All-New England team along with other top talent, including University of Miami commit Bruce Brown and University of Kentucky commit Wenyen Gabriel.
The Oradell, N.J. native is widely regarded as the top recruit in the Colonials class. He is a three-star athlete ranked No. 78 in the nation as well as one of the top 10 players from New Jersey, according to ESPN.
Over last summer, Marfo competed with Boston Amateur Basketball Club against some of the toughest competition in the country. He managed to average double-figure scoring and rank fifth in rebounds at 9.2 per game.
The 6-foot-8-inch, 235-pound forward will fill an important void in GW’s lineup after the departure of four-year starter Kevin Larsen in the frontcourt.
“Kevin [Marfo] is a potential four-year starter for us,” head coach Mike Lonergan said in a release last November. “Kevin’s a very focused young man who went from being an underrated recruit to one of the more highly recruited players in his class.”
Olivia Di Cristofaro, women’s soccer:
Midfielder Olivia Di Cristofaro comes to Foggy Bottom from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada where she led St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School to victory in the Ontario-Quebec Cup Championship in 2014 as well as the finals of the Disney Showcase that same year.
She has been successful in both the soccer and futsal leagues throughout her high school career. Di Cristofaro is a two-time Ontario Youth Soccer League Champion and a Provincial Fustal Champion in 2013.
Di Cristofaro is one of the few players in the league who brings international experience to the pitch. She competed with Team Ontario in 2012 when they traveled to Barcelona to take on other high-level teams from across the world. Also, she took on the Nigerian Women’s Soccer National Team in an exhibition game in 2015.
During her offseason, Di Cristofaro used her speed from years of soccer to become an important contributor on her school’s cross country team. She was selected as the MVP of her team for three consecutive years and won regional championships in 2013 and 2015.
“Olivia is hungry to play and progress, which is positively ignited by her confidence and self-discipline,” head coach Sarah Barnes said in a release in February. “She is resilient in her pursuit of improving, which is fueled by a great engine and a strong soccer brain that will allow her to make a smooth transition to GW.”
Jaret Edwards, baseball
Ace Jaret Edwards, who will join a talented GW pitching staff next spring, is already making headlines.
Starting for St. Edward High School in Ohio last month, Edwards pitched the perfect game striking out all 15 batters he faced in a 10-0 five-inning victory.
The fierce right-hander got 11 of those batters looking and was six strikeouts away from tying the state’s single-game record.
“I usually don’t smile on the mound, but when I got the last strikeout, I smiled,” Edwards told Cleveland.com. “It was a pretty relieving moment.”
Edwards finished his senior season with a blistering 0.80 ERA and 5-1 record across nine starts, tossing three no-hitters, including a perfect game.
Harper Birdsong, women’s basketball
Although two-time defending Atlantic 10 champion women’s basketball lost key pieces of its roster this offseason, including WNBA forward Jonquel Jones, the team will bolster its backcourt with the addition of Harper Birdsong.
The 5-foot-10-inch guard averaged 20 points, 6 assists and 3.5 rebounds in her junior year at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and led her team to its first Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II title match in school history.
Birdsong, a Suffolk, Va. native, has also been featured on ESPNW for her exceptional dedication to the sport and talent on the court.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say there were six or seven games in which teams put three girls on her the whole game and were satisfied to have two players guard the other four,” NSA coach Kim Aston told the national outlet.
Former GW head coach Jonathan Tsipis, who recruited the two-time VISAA player of the year, likened Birdsong to former Colonial Megan Nipe, with her ability to get good shots off quickly.
“She has a scorer’s mentality from all different parts of the floor,” Tsipis said in a release last November. “Harper is a tireless worker who always seems to be adding to her game.”