A Fountain of basketball talent

Before his family moved to Fort Knox, Ky., Daniel Fountain used to come to Woodbridge games just to watch. Always a basketball lover, the 16-year-old has vivid recollections of watching Brion Dunlap, now Forest Park’s head coach, play for the Vikings. He remembers walking up to Potomac’s Mookie Felder after a game and shaking his hand.

Now Fountain is the guy young basketball lovers walk up to for brief conversations and handshakes. It’s happened to him already.

“When I was at NBA camp [this summer],” Fountain said, “a boy named Kendall Marshall came up to me and said ‘You’re Daniel Fountain. You go to Woodbridge. I go to your games.’ ”

Marshall, a sixth-grader who’s made Evangel Christian’s varsity roster, recently garnered attention for appearing in Sports Illustrated.

Fountain, whose military family moved back to Woodbridge two years ago, said the moment made him proud.

“It feels good inside when people notice you,” he said.

Fountain knows he better get used to the feeling. As he kicks off his junior campaign, college recruiters will be coming up for handshakes. Woodbridge coach Will Robinson called Fountain one of the best shooters in the state, if not on the East Coast. Fountain has already drawn comparisons to 2001-02 state player of the year J.J. Redick, now a Duke freshman.

“I try not to worry about all this college stuff,” said Fountain, who will take some visits after the season is over. “That’s something that can take away from your game when you’re in high school. You don’t want to say ‘Oh well so-and-so’s in the stands’ and feel like you have to play a perfect game.”

With Woodbridge’s best post presence Tyrice Watkins gone to graduation, Fountain is ready to lead a fast-paced attack for an unusually guard-heavy Viking team. In his third year on one of the area’s best varsity units, Fountain feels the pressure to lead, but deflects it.

“I don’t put it on myself,” he said. “But I do feel some of it because of expectations.”

Robinson said Fountain could score 30 a night on some teams, but figures he’ll surprise onlookers with how well-rounded his game has become, particularly on defense and passing the ball.

“What people don’t know about him, but what people will come to understand is that Daniel is more athletic than people realize,” Robinson said. “The first thing you notice about him is his ability to shoot. … I’m not so sure he enjoys the label of ‘shooter’ because of the connotation that he’s one-dimensional. We certainly don’t see him that way.”

Fountain says the team game comes naturally to him. Robinson said his pupil has had to ask at camps whether to play team ball or be selfish, which is rare in itself. Then Robinson, whose fundamental approach has won him more than 300 high school games, has had to tell Fountain to be the latter, in order to catch the proper attention.

“Sometimes I don’t want him to be a team player,” the coach laughs.

But playing that way should work out for Fountain, who lists James Prince’s emotion and Chris Kendall’s toughness among his team’s strengths.

Robinson does not balk at the comparisons to Redick, who scored 31 points to help eliminate Woodbridge from its 12th consecutive regional tournament last season.

“I think about it all the time, what we could have done to shut him down more,” Fountain said. “You want to take things he did in the game, and say ‘How can I put that in my game?'”

Of course, Fountain has been a student of the game since he first picked up a ball. His goals for the season are to help the Vikings’ young players improve and to get to the state tournament.

He just might be able to do both.

“He has the ability to help make other people better,” Robinson said. “That’s the true mark of an outstanding player.”

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