BLADENSBURG – Coming into his final year with the Bladensburg High School boys basketball team, Daniel Oladapo knew he would carry the load on offense this season. Regardless of the tight early schedule, player injuries and student transfers, the senior wanted to prove that he was one of the best players in the county. Head Coach Antonio Williams agreed with his young star player, naming him team captain, but asked him to strive for more.
“I told him that he should try to be the best player in the state, the best player in your region and then the best player in the nation,” Williams said. “He hasn’t even gotten to where he needs to be, and that’s something scary to think about.”
Listed at six-foot-seven, Oladapo tormented defenses with his physicality and ball-handling abilities, making him one of the hardest players to guard. His continued dominance over the past three seasons (and leading Bladensburg to an impressive run to the state finals) earned Oladapo the recognition as the Prince George’s Sentinel Player of the Year.
Oladapo’s playing style is morphing alongside the current trend for big men in basketball. It is no longer about picking up rebounds and scoring on second-chance opportunities. The ability to create plays off the dribble, driving into the paint for hard dunks, and establishing a jump shot are now required skills to excel as a power forward or center. The addition of a jump shot and scoring three-pointers into his arsenal made the Mustang a more significant threat this year.
It was unclear if Oladapo would ever have a shot at championship glory with Bladensburg especially ending the regular season losing three of their last four games leading them to a 10-11 record. Despite the late-season struggles, the Mustangs were seeded No. 3 seed in their sectional bracket for the state playoffs.
With the power forward leading the way, Bladensburg won four straight games including a stunning 83-81 win over powerhouse Eleanor Roosevelt, for the school’s first regional title win since 1979. He saved his best game of the playoffs, a game-high 27 points with 11 rebounds, for the state semifinal victory over Old Mill High School. During the six-game playoff run, Oladapo finished with a double-double four times.
Helping the Mustangs reach their first state finals appearance in 40 years became a momentous moment for the young forward, teaching him that their Cinderella run meant more than winning a trophy.
“This was for the community,” Oladapo said on March 10. “The real goal was to bring the community together, so to see all those people support us, the Bladensburg basketball team, it meant a lot. Win or lose, that was what it was all about at the end.”
The senior announced his intentions of completing a year at a prep school while pursuing his goal to play Division I college basketball. He ends his high school career scoring more than 1,000 points. In his senior year, he scored 23 points a game while averaging 10.6 rebounds.
Throughout the season, Mustang fans chanted MVP, motivating Oladapo while acknowledging his success. Now, he is finally being recognized for his efforts, Williams said about his playmaker.