For most of the basketball season, Kevin Larsen deferred to his talented Montrose Christian teammates — seniors Justin Anderson and Michael Carrera and junior Ishmail Wainright.
Saturday, Larsen got his turn as the focal point.
While Anderson and Carrera waited for the main game of the Capital Classic, Larsen scored a game-high 22 points with nine rebounds to earn most valuable player of the event's preliminary boys game, even though his District All-Stars fell to the Suburban All-Stars, 109-101.
Anderson's and Carrera's Capital All-Stars also lost, 105-93 to the United States All-Stars, but the Montrose Christian contingent savored Larsen's performance as a go-to player. Larsen has already decided between offers from George Washington, Providence, Marquette, Gonzaga and Virginia Tech, but the 6-foot-8, 240-pound center is waiting to announce his choice.
“Kevin has developed into one of the better big men in the country, really,” Montrose Christian coach Stu Vetter said. “Each year, he's improved. Each game, he's improved. And I think this was just a great game for him to showcase his talents.
“His best basketball is ahead of him. He's got a big body. He's only getting stronger. If he's in the right setting, he's going to blossom and be a very good college player.”
Larsen — a Copenhagen, Denmark, native who spent two seasons at Montrose Christian — leaped forward this summer, when he lost 50 pounds. Rather than play for AAU teams last offseason, both he and Carrera stayed at Montrose Christian and worked out together.
“Michael told him every single day in the gym, he said, ‘No one can beat you, Kevin. No one can get around you. You can score on anybody you want,'” said Anderson, who scored a team-high 17 points. “I think that confidence just helped him out so much.
“Whatever school gets him, I think he's considered a diamond in the rough. They're going to be really happy. I think his work ethic is just going to take him over the hump and take him to the next level.”
Larsen said he learned how to box out from Carrera. In exchange, the 6-6, 225-pound Carrera learned how to compete against a bigger player — a skill that has led to scholarship offers from Illinois, Pittsburgh and Duke for Carrera since the season ended.
Carrera also learned his signature celebration — screaming while waving his arms wildly — from Larsen.
Midway through the second quarter of Saturday's main Capital Classic game at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., Carrera drove for a dunk and celebrated like Larsen taught him.
“He's got a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of passion, which is what makes him great,” Vetter said of Carrera, whose 10 points tied for second on the team. “That's not a show. That's who he is.”
OK, not totally. Carrera went a bit over the top — even pointing at the Montrose Christian coaches and players in the stands, including Larsen, who ate up the act.
About a minute later, Anderson dunked and tried to imitate the celebration.
“I was missing the tongue. I was missing the hair. I was missing a lot,” Anderson said of his milder version. “It's not like Michael.”
Before their games, Carrera and Larsen agreed to attempt 3-pointers. Carrera made his in final minute as Anderson raised his arms to signify that the shot was on target while the ball still flew through the air. But Larsen didn't take one, even though he had a look.
“I had one, but I passed it,” Larsen said sheepishly, figuring he'd catch grief from Carrera later.
But he won't get ribbing later from Anderson, who was too pleased with Larsen's big game.
“I think he deserved every bit of it — if not more,” Anderson said.
Still deciding: None of the four Montgomery County public school boys who played in the Capital Classic have chosen a college, but they're all getting closer.
Col. Zadok Magruder's Garland Owens, the only one of the four to play in the main game, plans to attend a prep school, currently favoring Cushing Academy (Mass.) over Salisbury School (Conn.).
Springbrook's Demetric Austin likes DePaul a little more than his other two finalists, Saint Peter's and Seton Hall.
Sherwood's Scott Bolen is leaning toward Messiah College (Pa.), the Division III school where his brother plays.
Winson Churchill's Sam Edens favors McDaniel College.
Girls games: Carrie Alexander (Bishop McNamara, Drexel) scored 10 points for the Private All-Stars, which beat the Interhigh All-Stars, 76-67. Faith Randolph (Good Counsel, Virginia) and Pandora Wilson (Holy Cross, Drexel) each scored seven points.
Colleen Marshall (Gaithersburg, East Carolina) led the Maryland All-Stars with 13 points in their 74-49 loss to the Virginia All-Stars. Brigette Ocran (Paint Branch, Army) scored 10 points. Carla Batchelor (Northwest, UTEP) had nine points, and Eliqua Brooks (Wise) added eight points.