Any discussion about elite 2021 teams has to include Baltimore's Finest. I had the pleasure of interviewing Coach Donnell “Mookie” Dobbins, who in the past three years has built a reputation as one of the most prolific grassroots basketball coaches in the country. Dobbins is the Grassroots Coordinator and head coach of the 3rd and 6th grade teams for the Under Armour sponsored BMore’s Finest program. As most basketball fans know, BMore’s Finest has established itself as one of the premier programs in the DC/MD/VA area, and the DMV is celebrated as one of the most talented and competitive regions in the nation.
Coach Mookie was humble when I inquired about his 3rd grade squad who are currently ranked #5 nationally after a superb showing in the 2nd grade National Championship Tournament. However when I mentioned his 6th Grade mob, his eyes lit up like Time Square on New Years Eve. According to Dobbins, “These boys are a special group of kids.” The 6th grade Bmore’s Finest team placed 12th in the 5th Grade National Championship Tournament last season, but with the new aged-based AAU rule changes, they could be a front runner to win the national title in 2015. The team doesn’t lose any players from its 2014 loaded roster, a roster that included 6 nationally ranked players. In fact, half the roster will not return 12 years old until mid 2015!
During the 2013-2014 campaign, this squad successfully swept the nation collecting championships including the All-Ohio Red Nike Cup (OH), defeating nationally ranked All Ohio Red, AGAME Super Shootout (PA) and the Rumble in the Bronx (NYC). Dobbins attributes the team's overall success to its depth. The 6th grade BMore’s Finest team is amazingly assembled with quick, athletic, small guards like Karell Booker, Ahmad Harrison and Chase McWhite; a pair of three-point snipers in Bryce Lindsay and Chris Winborne and twin towers Malik Missouri and Julian Reese. With the addition of Christian Moore, by way of the Tidewater Wildcats (VA), this may be one of the most potent teams in the country next season. The team is often identified by its tenacious ball pressure. Dobbins' defensive philosophy mandates that whoever is in front gets the ball, and always look for the next pass. It’s very rare to find a group of young kids that understands the importance of making the extra pass, especially when individual scoring is at the forefront of youth sports.
When asked about his key player, Dobbins mentioned Ahmad Harrison and accredited such high praise to Harrison because of his competitive nature and versatility. According to Dobbins, Harrison habitually assumes responsibility of guarding the opposing team’s best player, while playing all five positions offensively. In addition, Dobbins pointed out that the awkward multi-positioned point forward has tremendous upside and will continue to leave his imprint on the circuit if he maintains the selfless attitude he has exhibited up to this point in his young career. “The sky’s the limit for this team in its entirety; I expect every member of this team to earn a college scholarship and excel both academically and athletically,” said Dobbins.
When asked is there any other place he’d rather be besides coaching, Dobbins replied, “If you would’ve asked me this very same question about 5-6 years ago I would undoubtedly requested another shot at my own professional basketball career, but in this juncture of my life, aside from my children, nothing is more gratifying then being able to positively influence this group of young men and help them develop on and off the court.” Their team chemistry and brotherly bond are great to watch. If they are coming to a city near you this season, I advise you to get your popcorn ready. You can catch Bmore's Finest in action in March when the season three of NYBL tips off.