If there was ever a summer that David Omasombo could have done a little less work on the basketball court, this was it.

Lewiston guard David Omasombo goes for layup against Deering in December 2019. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

Instead, Omasombo, who is about to begin his junior year at Lewiston High School, has kept his dribble alive.

“I’ve been very busy,” he said.

Omasombo and a number of other area high school athletes have had plenty to do this summer despite the pandemic, and have been standing tall among some of the state’s elite talent.

A typical day for Omasombo starts at 4:30 a.m., when he wakes up to get ready for a 6 a.m. workout with Lewiston varsity basketball coach Ronnie Turner. After the workout, he punches in for an eight-hour day painting houses, then returns to the gym, often with traces of paint from his labor still on his hands, to join his fellow Blue Devils for a team practice. Some nights continue with a club tournament and end with another individual workout.

“I’ve been taking close to 1,000 shots a day,” he said, “just to get as much repetition as possible, even from long range, from ‘Dame’ (Damian Lillard) range.”

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The 5-foot-8 point guard, who led the Blue Devils in scoring (16 points per game) last year, was one of the top sophomores in the state and was selected to participate in Top 30 Camp earlier this month.

The two-day camp, organized by former Washington Academy and NCAA Division II star Ben Teer and his Teer Basketball Training, gathered the top 30 upperclassmen and top 30 underclassmen in Saco. Leavitt’s Wyatt Hathaway and Joziah Learned and Edward Little’s John Shea were among those also participating.

The camp has operated for two years but this was the first year that Omasombo attended.

“I was a little nervous at first just because some of the best players in Maine are there and you’ve got to go there and show out,” Omasombo said. “But I took in a lot, learned a lot and competed with some amazing players.”

One of the highlights of the camp for Omasombo was learning from Tyler Relph, a renowned basketball skills trainer, the finer points of getting separation and finishing at the rim as a smaller player.

Despite his stature, Omasombo stood above many of the campers, earning consideration for camp MVP.

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That honor went to Hathaway, who is about to enter his senior year at Leavitt Area High School. A three-year starter for the Hornets, Hathaway said that competing with and against other heralded peers, such as Maranacook’s Cash McClure and Thornton Academy’s Payton Jones and Dylan Griffin, forced him to raise his game.

Wyatt Hathaway of Leavitt Area High School drives between RJ Nichols, left, and Cam Yorke of Edward Little High School during a game in Auburn in January 2020. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“Obviously, playing against those guys, you’ve got to play at a little bit higher level than a typical high school game,” he said. “It was great to have that many awesome players to compete against.”

Hathaway played with some of that same talent as a member of the Maine Demons AAU team, which was coached by former Edward Little and University of Maine star Troy Barnies, who is currently in Lithuania preparing for his ninth season playing professionally overseas.

In the spring, the coronavirus cast some doubt on how much time on the court the state’s basketball players would get this summer. While the Maine Principals’ Association slowly eased restrictions on high school workouts over the summer, AAU programs scrambled to match up with available competition.

“With the Demons, we just kind of threw it together at the last minute because a lot of teams said they weren’t going to play,” Hathaway said.

The result was fewer tournaments, but the Demons were able to cobble together a schedule playing other Maine-based AAU and college teams and, once the state started exempting other New England states from travel restrictions, teams from New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Games were still conducted under strict social distancing guidelines. For example, players were only allowed to have one parent or sibling attend their games.

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Hathaway said he’s been playing roughly four days per week as part of a schedule that was also packed with football camps and practices.

“It’s been different,” said Hathaway, a quarterback who was named the Sun Journal’s Football Player of the Year after helping Leavitt win the Class C state championship and received football recognition this summer as the only high school player in Maine named a Sports Illustrated All-American Candidate. “But it worked out, considering how things have been.”

Shea, a center who led Edward Little in scoring as a sophomore (18 ppg) while helping it win the Class AA state championship, prepared for his junior year by playing for the Demons and another Red Eddies-centric travel team, also coached by Barnies.

Edward Little’s John Shea battles for a rebound with Dylan Griffin of Thornton Academy during the Class AA state championship in February 2020. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

“It’s been busier than last summer, for me, at least,” Shea said. “I’ve been helping the Auburn kids (at the annual Red Eddies basketball camp) in the morning, going to BJ Grondin’s (Auburn gym, Prime360) for workouts and conditioning, then practices and summer ball.”

Now Hathaway and Omasombo, who also plays soccer for Lewiston, are among the hundreds of Maine high school athletes awaiting word on whether there will be a fall sports season. The MPA has said it will announce a decision by next Thursday, and Omasombo is concerned what a fall cancellation could mean for winter sports.

“I’m a little worried, just because they’re (considering) canceling fall sports,” Omasombo said. “But I’m still hopeful and just praying we have basketball.”


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