Citing birthdates provided by FIBA for competitions in Africa in 2009 and 2010, Deadspin.com reported Tuesday that Bishop O'Connell senior forward Junior Etou is 20 years old – too old to play basketball in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and any other high school in the country by even the most liberal standards.
Etou, a 6-foot-7 power forward, is being recruited by several high-profile ACC and Big 12 programs. He is Bishop O'Connell's second-leading scorer at 15.7 points per game. The 16-3 Knights were ranked nationally until a pair of losses over the weekend at the Burger King Classic.
Bishop O'Connell head coach Joe Wootten rebuked the report Tuesday during a phone conversation with MaxPreps.
"We have all the legal documentation that certifies that he is 18 years of age," Wootten said. "He will be 19 in June and meets the age requirements for our league by 10 months."
Wootten and O'Connell are standing behind their statement and Etou, playing him Tuesday night in an 83-65 win over Good Counsel (Olney, Md.). Etou scored 21 points to help the Knights stay at the top of the competitive WCAC with Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.).
"We are very confident," Wootten said.
A native of the Republic of Congo, Etou represented his country in a 2009 competition in Libya (see FIBA's player page here
) and a 2010 competition in Rwanda. His birth date is listed as June 4, 1992 for the Libyan tournament on FIBA's official site.
Deadspin has a long track record of blowing the doors off of sports-related scandals. The site was the first to report on Manti Te'o's non-existent girlfriend last week.
But Wootten's endorsement of Etou comes with tremendous credibility. He is an accomplished high school coach with experience at the college level. His father, Morgan, is touted by some as the greatest high school basketball coach ever with 1,274 wins and 33 WCAC titles to his credit. Morgan Wootten's DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) squads were recognized as national champions five times.
"It's like Donald Trump calling out Barack Obama regarding the birth certificate," Joe Wootten said. "It's unfortunate that you can throw anything out there and create a cloud of doubt."
Etou spent his junior and sophomore years at Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) before transferring to Bishop O'Connell over the summer. He is a member of the powerhouse DC Assault club program.