The Nation's Hottest Recruiting Area: The Top 10 Pro Athletes from PG County, MD
If you’re not a resident of the state of Maryland or an avid follower of college basketball recruiting, you probably don’t know much about Prince George’s County.
It’s the county in which I was born and raised, and I have seen countless athletes from this county make the jump to the collegiate level and even the professional level. It seems that every time I watch a game or read an article, I find myself saying, “Wow, there’s another PG County guy.”
For example, there were 14 players from PG County in the NCAA Tournament last season. This isn’t a giant metropolitan city like New York or Los Angeles; Prince George’s County houses less than 900,000 individuals. Yet from 2006-2008, this county had more McDonald’s All-Americans than any STATE except for California.
ESPN finally recognized the basketball hotbed that is PG County in their ESPN the Magazine article.
Basketball isn’t the only sport that is dominated by PG County. As you’ll see in the list, there are some notable NFL stars that have made it all the way from this little county in Maryland.
Side note: None of the players in this top 10 list went to the University of Maryland, which is located in PG County. It’s a subject for another article entirely, but can Maryland please start recruiting in their backyard?
Without further ado, here’s the list of top 10 current professional athletes from Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Criteria for the Top 10
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Players must have lived in Prince George’s County for a significant time before college or played high school/AAU sports in the county.
As far as the actual rankings go, collegiate achievements were weighted pretty heavily. But in the end, pro statistics and overall athletic ability reigned supreme.
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These players were close, but didn’t quite make the cut for the top 10:
Jeff Green was the fifth overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft and had a stretch of three straight seasons with 15-plus PPG and 5.5 RPG. If this list was extended beyond 10, he would have been the 11th selection.
Sam Young, now a Memphis Grizzlie and former Pitt Panther star, went to Friendly High School in PG County. While he was considered an undersized forward coming out of high school, I was considered much more undersized when I drew the task of guarding him for 36 minutes in a 2003 PG summer league game.
Delonte West is fun to watch play in the NBA and nearly made the list just because of the allegations that he had relations with LeBron’s mom.
Jarrett Jack has been a solid NBA veteran and turned in a nice season with the Hornets this year with 15 PPG and six APG.
Derrick Harvey was a first-round pick of the Jaguars, but has yet to make an impact in the NFL.
Madieu Williams not only is from PG County, but attended the University of Maryland as well. His generous donations to the university alone almost put him on the list.
10. Leigh Bodden, Cornerback, New England Patriots
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Hometown: Hyattsville, MD
PG County Football Affiliation: Northwest High School
Despite going undrafted in 2003 out of Duquesne, Leigh Bodden has become a quality NFL corner during the past eight seasons.
Injuries have derailed him in his NFL career, but he was able to put up 88 tackles and six interceptions in 2007 with the Cleveland Browns en route to the No. 1 fantasy defensive back ranking at season’s end.
9. Roy Hibbert, Center, Indiana Pacers
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Hometown: Adelphi, MD
PG County Basketball Affiliation: None
Unfortunately, Hibbert didn’t actually go to high school in Prince George’s County, but he did live there after he moved from Queens when he was two years old.
Hibbert has yet to reach his full potential and was very underwhelming in the box scores during his years at Georgetown.
He started to finally get it in 2012, when he was selected to his first NBA All-Star game.
NBA GMs understand his potential, as evidenced by the four-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Portland Trailblazers and the subsequent reporting of the Indiana Pacers matching that offer this offseason.
8. Kyle Arrington, Cornerback, New England Patriots
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Hometown: Accokeek, MD
PG County Football Affiliation: Gwynn Park High School
Another undrafted free agent CB, Kyle Arrington is a starting CB for the New England Patriots.
In 2010, he returned an interception for a TD, as well as a blocked field goal for a TD.
Last year, the PG County native was the NFL leader in interceptions with six.
7. Michael Beasley, Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves
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Hometown: Washington, D.C.
PG County Basketball Affiliation: Bowie High School, National Christian Academy, Riverdale Baptist High School
If Beasley could match his potential, he would be much higher on this list.
Beasley attended a few high schools in PG County, and I was fortunate enough to be on the court for a 40-point beatdown from Riverdale Baptist and the Michael Beasley Show during an exhibition game in 2004.
He was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year at Kansas State for his lone collegiate season, where he averaged 26 PPG and 12 RPG.
Beasley was selected No. 2 overall in the 2008 draft by the Miami Heat but has yet to live up to those expectations. A change of scenery in 2010 may have helped, as he averaged 19.2 PPG with the Minnesota Timberwolves before an injury-riddled 2011 season.
6. Cameron Wake, Defensive End, Miami Dolphins
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Hometown: Beltsville, MD
PG County Football Affiliation: DeMatha High School
Regrettably, many NFL fans don’t know the name Cameron Wake unless they’re a Dolphin fan or an IDP fantasy player.
Wake has been a disruptive force on Miami’s defense for the past three seasons, finally earning a Pro Bowl bid last season.
With 28 sacks in his first three NFL seasons, the Dolphins rewarded Wake with a four-year, $49 million extension in May.
5. Ty Lawson, Guard, Denver Nuggets
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Hometown: Clinton, MD
PG County Basketball Affiliation: Bishop McNamara High School
A 2009 NCAA national champion, Ty Lawson was the 2009 ACC Player of the Year and a first-round draftee in the 2009 NBA draft.
After Chauncey Billups was traded, Lawson performed admirably in his first full season as the starting PG of the Denver Nuggets in 2012, averaging 16.4 PPG and 6.6 APG.
Only 24, Lawson will be one of the most exciting NBA point guards to watch for the next few years.
4. NaVorro Bowman, Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers
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Hometown: District Heights, MD
PG County Football Affiliation: Suitland High School
When you’re a linebacker on the same team as Patrick Willis and you are still able to nab First Team NFL All-Pro honors, you’re doing something right.
Even with tackling machine Patrick Willis lining up next to him on every play, NaVorro Bowman collected 143 combined tackles in 2011.
Bowman makes up one half of the most intimidating linebacker duo in the league, and that won’t change any time soon.
3. Joe Haden, Cornerback, Cleveland Browns
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Hometown: Fort Washington, MD
PG County Football Affiliation: Friendly High School
I have a serious man-crush on Joe Haden and could write endlessly about his skills and accomplishments.
For his high school career, Haden set the Maryland public school passing record with 7,371 yards and 80 TDs. He turned down offers to play quarterback for Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Ohio State.
Instead, Haden chose the University of Florida and started 12 games AT CORNERBACK as a true freshman. Let that sink in.
He led the Gators to the 2009 national title and was named the 2009 National Defensive Player of the Year.
He was selected sixth overall in the 2009 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. He has notched 65 tackles each of his first two seasons in the league and was able to intercept six passes in his rookie campaign. For the IDP fantasy players out there, Haden has finished in the top 20 DBs in both 2010 and 2011 despite being a CB.
2. Julian Peterson, Linebacker, Detroit Lions
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Hometown: Hillcrest Heights, MD
PG County Football Affiliation: Crossland High School
Being a 12-year veteran, a five-time Pro Bowler and a top-20 fantasy LB for six seasons will land you high on any list.
Peterson has demonstrated year in and year out that he is one of the most talented, savvy linebackers in the league.
Let us not forget that he was a first-round selection out of Michigan State after being named an All-American and recording 25 sacks in just 23 games with the Spartans.
1. Kevin Durant, Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder
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Hometown: Washington, D.C.
PG County Basketball Affiliation: PG Jaguars (AAU)
Do I really need to run down the list of Kevin Durant’s achievements?
Yes, he was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2009. Yes, he was the Naismith College Player of the Year as a freshman at Texas in 2007. Yes, he’s a three-time All-Star and a three-time scoring champ.
HE’S 23 YEARS OLD!
Durant is the future of the NBA and will only add to the list of these already-impressive achievements.
For those of you that complain that he’s “not really from PG County,” he won multiple national championships as a player for the PG Jaguars, an AAU team based in PG County. PG County residents are quick to claim him as one of their own.