Men’s basketball harbors its largest number of DMV recruits in at least a decade.
With six of its 17 members hailing from Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, the team has the second highest number of regional recruits in the past decade. Head coach Jamion Christian, who was raised in Virginia, said regional similarities – like rooting for the Nationals or eating crab and shrimp – can connect the teammates and foster a family-like environment.
“These little things that you can joke about really makes a family environment,” Christian said. “Being able to know someone on a different level, I do think it’s important, and the geographical stuff gives an opportunity to be able to do that.”
Six Colonials hail from the DMV. Freshman forwards Chase Paar and Miles Gally, sophomore guard Amir Harris, sophomore forward Mezie Offurum and senior guard Justin Williams are from Maryland. Junior forward Ace Stallings calls D.C. home.
A majority of the remaining players are from Northeast states, like Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania. Two members are from North Carolina, and a sole player comes from Minnesota. GW rosters two international students – junior Javier Langarica from Spain and senior forward Arnaldo Toro from Puerto Rico.
When recruiting, Christian said he draws from the DMV area because of its solid recruiting base. Christian added that local players were knowledgeable about GW, giving them an edge on how to make a difference in the program.
“I think because they all understood GW, they all understood what it was when they got here,” Christian said. “They knew what they needed to do to improve it.”
Over the past 10 years, players from the DMV have comprised less than 25 percent of the total team. In 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2019-20, the number of local recruits eclipsed more than a quarter of the total team.
This season’s roster claims the second highest percentage – roughly 33 percent – of local recruits.
When choosing schools, Williams said he wanted to focus on a competitive level of play, and the close proximity of GW to his home was the cherry on top.
“The main factor was the high level of play,” Williams said. “It’s a really high level, the [Atlantic 10]. It’s always been a dream of mine to play at the highest level possible. Also the proximity to where I live – I am from Maryland, so that was a bonus.”
Williams spent the summer taking classes and practicing for the upcoming season. He said because Harris and Offurum were local and in the area, the trio bonded and spent time inside and outside the gym together.
Paar said he decided to join GW because of its location in the District and to maintain close proximity to his family in Mount Airy, Md.
“I’m really close to my family,” Paar said. “That was a huge factor, staying close. And obviously, D.C. is great and you’re right in the city. So I think a mix of those two is kind of why I chose GW.
Paar added that he recognized the other Maryland players from his tour around the AAU circuit. After years of competition, he called the opportunity to be on the same side of the court “pretty special.”
Stallings, who grew up in Miami but moved to D.C. for high school, went to Sidwell Friends School where he became acquainted with Offurum, who attended Georgetown Prep. The two never competed because of different conferences, but Stallings said the two played for the same AAU program, giving them an instant connection as teammates.
The two grew closer as they shared mutual friends, Stallings said. He added that his relationship with Harris, a Frederick, Md., native, developed in the same way.
After playing two seasons at Mount St. Mary’s, Stallings made the decision to transfer to GW to finish out his collegiate career with the Colonials. He said his previous relationship with Christian at Mount St. Mary’s, coupled with the idea of moving home, drew him back to the District.
“He was someone I really trusted, really bonded with my freshman year,” Stallings said. “He was like a mentor to me. We even stayed close last year. And when I looked to transfer, it was pretty much a no-brainer to come back home.”