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Teel Time: As July basketball recruiting begins, U.Va., Hokies court DeMatha stars

By David Teel

5:09 AM EDT, July 5, 2011

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James Robinson and Jerami Grant are basketball teammates at DeMatha High and for Team Takeover. Could their partnership continue in 2012 at the University of Virginia?

That is among the myriad questions surrounding U.Va. and Virginia Tech as the annual July recruiting period commences Wednesday.

Robinson is a 6-foot-3 point guard, Grant a 6-7 forward and the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant, a Hampton University assistant coach. The Cavaliers are pursuing both, with the Hokies courting Grant.

With commitments from 6-5 Justin Anderson, 6-8 Evan Nolte and 6-10 Mike Tobey, Virginia is assembling a top-shelf 2012 class. Point guard is the missing piece.

Virginia, Georgetown and Notre Dame lead for Robinson, according to Rivals.com, and DeMatha’s 71-57 January loss to Norcom in Portsmouth demonstrated why he’s generated such interest. With 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, Robinson, then a junior, was as impressive as the game’s two marquee seniors: Virginia Tech signee Dorian Finney-Smith of Norcom and Georgetown-bound Mikael Hopkins of DeMatha.

Virginia Tech, Virginia, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Clemson are among the 10 schools to offer Grant, according to Rivals, and recruiters will have no trouble finding him and Robinson this month. They’ll be competing for Washington, D.C.-based Team Takeover at the Peach Jam in South Carolina and Super Showcase in Florida.

Nike has turned the Peach Jam into the final stage of what it calls the Elite Youth Basketball League, the first session of which was Boo Williams’ annual April tournament in Hampton. Team Takeover is 15-0 this spring and summer in EYBL competition.

Among those victories was an 80-72 April conquest of host Boo Williams. Grant (18 points) and Robinson (13) were Team Takeover’s leading scorers, and Grant added nine rebounds.

Virginia and Virginia Tech have had recent recruiting success at DeMatha. Former Cavaliers coach Dave Leitao landed Mamadi Diane from the renowned school in Hyattsville, Md. Hokies coach Seth Greenberg signed Jeff Allen, who played three seasons at DeMatha before playing his senior year at Oak Hill Academy and a post-grad year at Hargrave Military.

Tech has one pledge for 2012 in forward Montrezl Harrell of Tarboro, N.C. Among the Hokies’ other targets for that class are forwards Andrew White of the Miller School in Crozet (also considering Georgia Tech, Richmond, Louisville and George Mason) and Michael Carrera and Kevin Larsen, both of Montrose Christian, the Rockville, Md., squad that also includes Virginia commit Anderson.

Montrose Christian coach Stu Vetter told The Washington Post’s Josh Barr that Carrera also has offers from Richmond and Gonzaga, Larsen from Gonzaga. Both players hail from overseas, Carrera from Venezuela, Larsen from Denmark.

Tech's pursuit of Carrera and Larsen likely reflects the influence of new assistant coach Rob Ehsan, who from his previous job at Maryland brings extensive connections internationally and to Montrose. Ehsan led Maryland's recruitment of Anderson, who pledged to the Terps in March before changing his mind in the wake of coach Gary Williams' unexpected retirement.

July’s evaluation periods run from the 6th-15th and 22-31st, with events scheduled across the country. Many prospects will commit before summer’s end, but the week-long national signing period does not begin until Nov. 9.

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A mid-afternoon Tuesday email on Robinson and Grant from DeMatha coach Mike Jones, a former Old Dominion player:

"Either could commit before school (starts), but I expect both to take their visits and make a decision in October/November.

"James' list is pretty small at this point and UVa is high (very high) on that list. Va Tech is very much in the mix for Grant."