DeMatha’s Morgan Wootten featured in film as ‘The Godfather of Basketball’

Filmmaker Bill Hayes and college basketball assistant coach Dereck Whittenburg sat knee-to-knee on a commuter jet together six years ago on a three-hour flight up the East Coast. When they landed, the two had pledged to produce a documentary together about legendary DeMatha basketball coach Morgan Wootten, one of the most successful coaches in the high school history.

“Morgan Wootten: The Godfather of Basketball” premiered Thursday night in the cafeteria at the Hyattsville school before an audience of former DeMatha players and boosters.


The most important review came in right away: “They did a phenomenal job,” said Wootten, 86, who won 1,274 games in his 46 years at DeMatha.

His teams won five high school national championships and 22 Washington, D.C. titles and never lost more than two games in a row. According to the film, over a 30-year period, every player who came through his basketball team earned a college scholarship. He invented the modern “charging” offensive foul and the concept of the fast break.

Before Wootten, when defenders stole the ball, they just stood there.

He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, but Hayes, the film’s executive producer and director, said that for years Wootten’s legend was a local one. Hopefully, that will change, he said.

“I couldn’t believe that one high school coach could do all these things,” Hayes said. “I couldn’t believe nobody knew his story. We need more leaders like him.”

Hayes highlights in the 1-hour, 14-minute documentary Wootten’s role developing DeMatha into an athletic powerhouse. When Wootten arrived at the school…

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