Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

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 Local boy makes great.

I seldom study the innards of pro basketball in the off-season, but I did note that O’Connell High School graduate Kendall Marshall last Thursday became a first-round draft pick for the Phoenix Suns. He joins an elite roster of Arlington athletes to make good on those widely shared boyhood dreams of turning pro.

The 20-year-old Marshall first came on my radar screen in January 2010 when my Durham, N.C.-based nephew blew into town and asked if I’d be willing to walk the two blocks from my house to O’Connell for a taste of the famous Duke-UNC college hoops rivalry.

At the time, Marshall was O’Connell’s star point guard, all-Met, veteran state champion and already committed to becoming a Carolina Tar Heel. We got to see him go up against a powerful Gonzaga squad featuring Tyler Thornton, then already committed to becoming a Blue Devil. Both were cocky and quick in the matchup that Gonzaga won 66-59.

I’m usually skeptical of hype surrounding young jocks, but Thornton went on to hold his own as a regular and is returning to Duke’s team. And Marshall nabbed the glittering payday after only two years at Chapel Hill.

Arlington through the decades has produced—through its omni-present youth sports empire and well-coached high school programs—dozens of postsecondary performers. But the ones who made it to the big leagues I can count on two average-skilled hands.

Start with baseball great George McQuinn (1910-1978), an Arlington native and Washington-Lee graduate who played first base for the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Browns, Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Yankees, 1936-1948. I used to shop at his McQuinn’s Sporting Goods in Ballston, which was also a Little League sponsor.

Other diamond men include San Diego Padres pitchers Clay Kirby and Jay Franklin, who grew up as Arlington next-door neighbors.

Another old-timer is football hall of famer Wayne Millner (1913-1976), who starred as an end for Notre Dame and then was drafted in 1936 by the team that became the Washington Redskins. He caught two long touchdown passes from Sammy Baugh when the Skins beat the Chicago Bears for the title in 1937. Though raised in Massachusetts, he coached, scouted (and died) in Arlington, which got him in the Better Sports Club Hall of Fame.

Preceding Marshall in the National Basketball Association was John Hummer (born 1948), a W-L star in the mid-1960s who, following his brother Ed, went off to shine on the court for Princeton. John’s six years in the pros saw him in uniform for the Buffalo Braves, Chicago Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics.

Washington-Lee grads can also boast of Eric Sievers (born 1957), a University of Maryland football star who throughout the 1980s played tight end for the San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots.

On the global stage, the most notable Arlington athlete, though not technically professional, is Olympic swimmer Tom Dolan (born 1975). After boyhood training at Washington Golf and Country Club, Yorktown High School and the University of Michigan, he won gold and silver medals at the 1996 games in Atlanta and the 2000 games in Sydney.

In reading of Marshall’s triumph, I learned that, though raised in Dumfries, Va., he began showing up for training at O’Connell at the ripe age of seven. So Arlington claims him. 

 


Charlie Clark may be e-mailed at [email protected]