John Marshall basketball team aiming for another state championship

Fred Jeter | 1/17/2020, 6 a.m.
You can make a convincing case for John Marshall High School be- ing the area basketball “Team of the Decade” ...
Elijah Seward Photo by James Haskins

You can make a convincing case for John Marshall High School being the area basketball “Team of the Decade” — the 2010s.

The 2020s look promising, too.

Since becoming coach prior to the 2010-11 season, Coach Ty White’s Justices are 207-51, winning state titles in 2014 and 2018.

This year’s team has a 9-2 record, despite losing numerous seniors from the team that won last winter’s state semifinal. The Justices’ only losses have been to schools with national reputations — Sierra Canyon School of California before a full house at the Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center, and McEachern High School of Georgia in the Tournament of Champions in Atlanta.

Senior spotlight: Coach White’s 2019-20 roster, while talented top to bottom, features just two seniors, 6-foot-1 guards Elijah Seward and Raymont Lynch.

Both Seward and Lynch vow to lead the team with their court-savvy minds as well as their well-developed muscles.

Expectations on the North Side are sky high, as usual.

“Our goal every year is the state championship — nothing less,” said Seward, who impresses with his smooth southpaw stroke and athleticism.

Seward has received college attention from Virginia Union and Virginia State universities.

While Seward has been a three-year regular, this is Lynch’s first turn in the starting lineup.

“I’m pumped up,” said Lynch. “I need to score and be a leader. We expect to win every game.” Lynch is another versatile athlete who can score inside and out and on the break.

Welcome mat: John Marshall High’s outlook brightened with the arrival of two junior transfers, Jason Nelson from Varina High School and Dana Woodley from Lee-Davis High School.

“Incredible Hulk:” 6-foot-10 junior Roosevelt Wheeler and 6-foot-6 freshman Dennis Parker spent the offseason working on their jump shots and their muscles at Big Ben’s Home Court.

Coordinating the workouts was trainer Hulk Wallace, brother of gym owner and former NBA star Ben Wallace.

“It’s made a huge difference,” Coach White said. “If you think Ben is big, you ought to see Hulk. Wow.”

City showdown: The Justices figure to be a favorite in every remaining regular season game, with one pos- sible exception. The team will face private schools powerhouse Trinity Episcopal School, featuring Duke University signee Henry Coleman, on Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Ashe Center as part of the Coaches for the Cure fundraiser.

Famous name: Splitting time between the varsity and JV teams this season is 6-foot-5 sophomore Malachi Dark.

The promising front-court player is the nephew of Jesse “Bodine” Dark and the late Frank Dark.

Jesse starred at Maggie L. Walker High School and Virginia Commonwealth University and played the 1974-75 season with the New York Knicks. Frank Dark excelled in basketball and football at John Marshall High and later starred in football at VUU.

Alumni report: Former John Marshall High stars are here, there and everywhere. From last year’s club, DeMarr McRae is playing at Livingstone College; Levar Allen at Southern Connecticut State University and Tre Harris-McKenzie at Thomas Nelson Community College.

Aubrey Merritt is red-shirting at Life University in Marietta, Ga. Another 2019 standout, Jairus Ashlock, has joined the military.

Isaiah Todd, who played as a freshman and sophomore at John Marshall, is now a senior at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C. The 6-foot-10 Todd has signed with the University of Michigan.