PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Listening to Sweet Sixteen March Madness games Friday night? You will see several players with Hampton Roads connections.
They arrive a day later former Norfolk Academy star Mark Williams and the No. 2 seed Duke advanced to the Elite Eight with a 78-73 victory over the No. 3 seed Texas Tech.
Friday action kicks off at 7:09 p.m. on CBS with this year’s Cinderella story, the peacocks of Saint-Pierrewho have a former local star in the post.
The former star of Maury in the first year at Saint-Pierre
As if you needed another reason to shoot for the Peacocks. St. Peter’s University freshman Clarence Rupert (No 12) is a former standout at Maury High School in Norfolk.
His No. 15-seeded Peacocks will face No. 3 Perdue Boilermakers at 7:09 p.m. Friday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The game airs on CBS and on March Madness Live.
The 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward is actually from Philadelphiabut moved to Norfolk in year 7 and eventually helped lead Maury to his first state basketball championship since 1927 as a sophomore.
After two seasons at Maury, he transferred to Miller School of Albemarle in Charlottesville, a private boarding school.
He had offers to several non-high school Division I programsincluding Murray State, a St. Peter’s team beat in the Round of 16, but they were pulled during the pandemic because coaches couldn’t see him play, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
His only D1 scholarship came from Peacocks head coach Shaheen Holloway, whose roster is made up of many players who were overlooked in high school.
“Everyone on the team has something to prove because everyone on this team has been vetted so many times,” Rupert told the Inquirer. “Everyone wants to show the world that we can hang with everyone and we can beat everyone.”
St. Peter’s, a private Jesuit school in Jersey City with an enrollment of only around 3,000 students, became just the 10th No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 seed when they defeated Kentucky in the Round of 16. The Wildcats had a few beasts in the paint, including 6-foot-9 Nationals candidate Oscar Tshiebwe, but the shorter Peacocks were able to hold their ground. Rupert had 6 points on 3-of-5 shooting and 4 rebounds against Kentucky and 7 points, a rebound and a steal against Murray State.
On Friday, he will face 7-foot-4 Zach Edey and 6-foot-10, 255-pound Trevion Williams in the paint. The Peacocks are double-digit underdogs, but Rupert likes his chances for the Peacocks to become the first 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight.
” We know it. Everyone says it’s a shake-up or a Cinderella story. But that’s not the case,” Rupert said. “We strive every day and give 110% in practice. It’s not upset. We knew exactly what we were doing.
Providence v Kansas is Portsmouth v Norfolk
Portsmouth Nate Watson will face another big man from Hampton Roads David McCormack at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the United Center in Chicago when No. 4 seed Providence takes on No. 1 Kansas. The game airs on TBS and will be posted online.
Watson, a 6-foot-10 graduate student, is the Friars’ leading scorer with 13.5 points per game. He played one season at Churchland High before ending his career at Bishop O’ Connell High in Arlington, Virginia.
He wears No. 0 for the brothers and is coached by Norfolk native Ivan Thomas. Thomas, assistant coach of Providence, played at Norview in Norfolk and was head coach at Kecoughtan in Hampton.
The big guy likes to draw and lists “Rush Hour 3” and “Paul Blart Mall Cop” as his favorite movies on the Providence team website.
Meanwhile, McCormack, who is a 6-foot-10 senior, also moved on to play elsewhere in high school. The Norfolk native played at Norfolk Academy during his second season before transferring to famed Oak Hill Academy.
He is the The Jayhawks’ fourth leading scorer (10 per game), second-best rebounder (7 per game), and is tied for the lead in blocks with 31 total with 6-foot-7 junior guard Christian Braun. He wears number 33.
His bio page says he likes movies and outdoor trips, but unfortunately does not list specific movies. He was a two-time first-team Academic All-Big 12 winner and twice nominated for Academic All-America. He graduated in communications in May 2021 and is also currently in graduate school.
Kansas, the Big 12 champion, is favored by 7 1/2 points.
Friday’s other two games are No. 8 North Carolina against No. 4 UCLA at 9:39 p.m. and No. 11 Iowa State against No. 10 Miami at 9:59 p.m.
Looking ahead: Williams and Duke will play in Arkansas
7-foot-1 center Mark Williams, the Virginia Beach native who played at Norfolk Academy before transferring to IMG Academy in high school, and the Blue Devils will face No. 4 Arkansas in the Elite Eight Saturday at 8:49 p.m.
The Razorbacks beat No. 1 Gonzaga in the Sweet Sixteen and will look to end Duke coach Michael Krzyzewski’s career with a loss.
Williams, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, had 16 points on 6-9 shooting, with three blocks and eight rebounds in the win over Texas Tech.