Capital Heights: D.C.’s High Risers

New Yorkers proudly speak of their great leapers such as Earl Manigault, “Jumpin'” Jackie Jackson, and Herman “Helicopter” Knowings. Washington does have a height ordinance that limits the height of our buildings to twelve stories, but has had no limit of high rising basketball players. Here’s a partial list:

Elgin “Rabbit” Baylor

William “Chicken Breast” Lee

Terry Hatchett

Julius “Peter Rabbit” Johnson

Lionel “Hop” Dempsey

Bobby Lewis

“Leapin'” Lou West

Willie Allen

Matthew Gantt

Earl Hawkins

James Brown

Leslie “High Rise” Anderson

Lamont Reid

Tony Coles

James Roche

Garcia Hopkins

Derek Whittenburg

Johnny Dawkins

Lenny Bias



15 responses to “Capital Heights: D.C.’s High Risers

  1. Lamont Reid (Bladensburg High School) could ‘sky’, as we used to say. He was by far the highest leaper I ever saw in action or played with. The first pick-up game I played in during high school, some guy jumped so high over me that his thighs were in my face. That guy turned out to be Lamont Reid.
    Lamont later set a leaping record when he went to college (I believe the record he set then was for a 42 inch vertical jump. The inches may be in error, but I know he set a record and was the highest measured jumper in the NCAA then). Lamont attended Oral Roberts.
    I played at Bladensburg High (JV) when Lamont was a senior All-Met in the 1974-1975 school year.
    In a game at Fairmont Heights, before dunking was legal at the amateur level, Lamont’s elbow was above the rim as he crammed the ball in the hoop. No call – basket good. Everyone was in awe!
    No offense to the great Garcia Hopkins, whom I also saw play, but he couldnt jump like Lamont Reid.


  2. I was on the same JV team at Bladensburg with Lamont. I often had to guard him in practice. This was before the growth spurt , but he could still jump out of the gym. On his jumper I would contest the shot, but I was going down and it seemed that he was still going up. What a baller!

    Barry T

  3. Pingback: Capital Heights: The DC Area’s Great Leapers | DC Basketball Blog

  4. Hey, I had the opportunity to play with, against or see in action. nearly everyone on this list! But, a few names are ommited and should be included: Cardozo’s Billy Gaskins; Dunbar & G’twn’s Craig “Big Sky” Shelton; UDC’s Michael Britt; Northwestern’s Mark Christian, Coolidge & American U’s Kermit “Bird” Washington belong on this list. A case can also be made for several others. including McKinley’s John Battle; Dunbar’s Bill Otey & Spingarn’s & G’twn’s Michael Graham…..ALL are worthy of inclusion. I’m sure I’m leaving some others out so, I hope other readers will add their comments & candidates to these “sky walkers”.

  5. I would like to add Ronnie Pulley (Bladensburg High School) to the list of high risers. The names that are mentioned are all “bona fide”, so, I just had to add Ronnie to the stew of leapers to make it a little tastier.

    • Mr. Michaels. Good call! I remember photos of him in my cousin’s ’68 and ’68 BHS yearbooks. He would always be cleaning the glass in the pics, and when I got older, I asked people who followed County basketball about him.


    James Roache won the championship on a dunk. They called him the Flying Frenchman. What a leaper.

  7. darrell griffith of louisville dr. dunkenstein at 6-3 had a verical leap of 48 inches also bobby austin a 6-2 forward from thevun. of cincinnati vertical was in the same standard.

  8. Carroll Holmes of Dematha. every one came out to see Adrian Dantley but got to know Carroll Holmes real quick. I’m not sure he was 6’1″ but he got every rebound.

  9. Michael Tate from Oxon Hill High School (85-89) had a 42 inch vertical (at least). Before his knee injury, he used to leap over everybody.

  10. man i saw michael tate at oxon hill and in the summer leagues(aau), man his ups was sick!!!!!

  11. Back in the early 80’s Blair had a guy named Adrian Summers whose vertical was rumored to be in the 40s.

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