Jarius Ashlock didn’t go the private school route to seek out a rewarding high school basketball experience.
But the Spotsylvania County native’s transfer to John Marshall in Richmond had many of the same perks as playing at an elite preparatory academy.
After transferring from Massaponax following a breakout sophomore campaign, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard spent the past two years with the Justices.
He was a key reserve when John Marshall captured the Class 3 state championship in 2018, averaging 12 points per game.
He was a starter this past season when the Justices fell just short of a repeat with a hard-fought loss to Phoebus in the state semifinals.
Ashlock will play in front of Fredericksburg-area friends and family one final time before heading off to college or a prep school Saturday when he participates in the sixth annual Area All-Star Classic at Riverbend High School.
Tip-off for the boys game is at 7 p.m. Some of the top area girls seniors will play a contest at 5 p.m. AAU games will take place throughout the day, starting at 10 a.m.
“It was definitely less shots and less attention,” Ashlock said of his experience at John Marshall. “But when my number was called I was ready.”
As a junior, Ashlock was able to play alongside former John Marshall center Isaiah Todd, who is rated a five-star prospect by 247sports.com and holds scholarship offers from heavyweights such as Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Todd transferred to Trinity Academy of Raleigh (N.C.) prior to this past season and more of a scoring load was on Ashlock and other returnees.
When Todd was in the fold during Ashlock’s junior campaign, the Justices were able to play in several prestigious national tournaments, including the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
“It was great,” Ashlock said of his experience at John Marshall. “I got to experience things many high school players don’t … I think it was different playing with other guys that can put the ball in the hole just like I can, but it was an advantage for us because we had a deep roster.”
Ashlock’s college future remains unsettled. He holds a scholarship offer from Division-II Clinton College in Rock Hill, S.C. He also has the option of attending Barton, a junior college in Kansas.
“Right now, me and my family have been discussing the best option between going prep, JUCO or taking the Division II offer,” Ashlock said.
But first Ashlock’s family will be in attendance Saturday to see him play with and against many of his friends. Ashlock played in the Fredericksburg-based Runnin’ Rebels organization and knows many area players from his two years at Massaponax and growing up in the region.
Event organizer Nat Jackson, the Riverbend boys head coach, said he’s expecting a night of family fun and entertainment. There will be a live DJ and prizes. There are 10 participants slated for the boys 3-point contest. There will be a slam dunk contest and a girls 3-point shootout.
Ashlock isn’t the only former area resident returning for the game. On the girls side, Culpeper native Jada Bennett will participate following a career at St. Anne’s Belfield, a private school in Charlottesville.
Former Courtland standout Lauryn Caiafa, who went on to play at John Paul the Great in Dumfries, will play in the girls’ contest, as well.
Jackson said he’s hopeful the boys and girls will play carefree and make it an enjoyable night of hoops.
“The struggle is to see what you can tweak and what you can fix,” Jackson said. “But we don’t want to play with it too much. We want to focus on the kids and let them know, ‘It’s just a basketball game. You put on a show.’ We’re going to give them that message and allow them to go out there and have fun.”