QEA basketball showdown features marquee match-up

QEA basketball showdown features marquee match-up
January 21
00:00 2016
Photos by Craig T. Greenlee
Deshawn Corprew of Quality Education Academy has emerged as a prized major-college basketball prospect.



When Word of God Christian Academy comes to town to play Quality Education Academy on Saturday night, basketball connoisseurs are sure to get an eyeful. Tip-off is 7 o’clock.

The upcoming showdown features a pair of big-time college recruits who figure to produce an intriguing match-up. Word of God’s Rawli Alkins is a five-star recruit who ranks among the Top 15 high school players in the country.

A year ago, Alkins was voted Player of the Year in New York City while playing for Christ the King High School. The heavily-recruited Alkins transferred to Word of God for his senior season and has reportedly narrowed his choices to nine schools, which includes North Carolina, N.C. State, Kentucky, Kansas and St. John’s.

QEA, on the other hand, has an upper-tier player of its own in Deshawn Corprew, whose stock continues to rise as the season progresses. Corprew initially committed to Arkansas-Little Rock, but changed his mind and now he’s free to pursue other possible destinations. The list of interested parties continues to grow. Louisville, Kansas, Florida State, UCLA, Oregon and Texas are all in the hunt to sign Corprew.

During the course of Saturday’s game, these two will very likely end up guarding each other for long stretches. Both are 6-feet-5. Both are athletic, and they have the ability to shoot from the outside and score in heavy traffic. At the college level, both are projected to play shooting guard.

Given Alkins’ national reputation as an elite player, one would presume that Corprew would have added incentive to perform well on Saturday. That’s not the way he sees it. In Corprew’s mind, his level of intensity should always be the same.

“In playing ball, you go after your opponent,” he said. “To me, it’s all the same. I don’t look at anybody as being any less than or any more than anybody else. That’s my approach regardless of who the opponent is.”

Saturday’s contest, however, isn’t solely about the marquee match-up between Corprew and Alkins.

Aside from Alkins, the Holy Rams have four other players who are Division I prospects.  Jalen Fornes, a shooting guard, has signed with UNC Wilmington. Post player Brandon Huffman, along with guards Blake and Jalen Harris, have yet to choose a school.

In spite of its talent level, Word of God (4-11 as of Jan. 15) has not performed as well as expected. In the preseason, the Holy Rams were viewed as a program on the rise. The school’s most notable basketball alumnus is NBA All-Star John Wall of the Washington Wizards.

Word of God plays a demanding national-level schedule against teams who are stocked with the nation’s top high school players. A week ago, Word of God held its own in a road game against defending Class 4-A state champ Raleigh Garner, but still came up short in a 93-89 loss.

The Pharaohs (15-3 as of Jan. 19) has given a good account against national-level competition this season. Although Corprew is the prime force, he is not a solo act. Jaylan McGill has delivered as an on-the-money outside shooter. Point guard Renathan Ono Embo has proven himself as a viable ball distributor who can score and defend. In the paint, 6-foot-7 Marsellis Purvis and 6-foot-9 Pape Ndiaye are the key contributors.

So, which team will have an edge on Saturday? Coach Isaac Pitts believes the Pharaohs can prevail by making a concerted effort to pound the ball in the post.

“Word of God is top-heavy with guards,” said Pitts. “Their guards will have to defend our bigs in the post. And we’ll have to defend their guards, so we’re going to see which team can impose its will on the other. We feel like we have an advantage in the low post, so we’re going to get the ball inside.”


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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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