English brings Bullets a knack for scoring

September 13, 1990|By Jerry Bembry Sun | Jerry Bembry Sun,Staff Correspondent

LANDOVER -- It could not be said of A.J. English that he lacked confidence last season while scoring 33.4 points per game at Virginia Union en route to becoming Division II Player of the Year.

"Against the people that I played in college," English had said of his competition in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, "nobody could stop me."

English, signed by the Washington Bullets yesterday, acknowledged that the same braggadocio won't hold up in the National Basketball Association. But the 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard said he looks forward to the day when he can pose a major threat to opposing defenses.

"It's a different ballgame now," English said at a news conference announcing his two-year contract. "Even [Michael] Jordan can be stopped. But, in due time, I want to go in with the same type of attitude."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It was the attitude and ability of English that led the Bullets to select him with their second pick of the draft (second round, 37th pick overall). Last week, the Bullets signed their other draft choice, forward Greg Foster (second round, 35th pick).

"We're delighted we can go into camp ready to go and not be worried about our rookies," coach Wes Unseld said.

A projected first-round pick before the draft, English -- who possesses an accurate jump shot to go with a 43-inch vertical leap -- may have fallen into the second round because of playing in Division II.

Still, he averaged 32.7 points in the first three games of the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational for prospective pros and held his own in postseason all-star games. And Bullets officials seem confident that the 23-year-old from Wilmington, Del., will help fill the void left by the departure of traded Jeff Malone.

English impressed team officials when, without a contract, he participated on the Bullets team in the Detroit summer rookie-free agent tournament and averaged 25.3 points.

"I was just glad to be out there getting my feel of NBA competition," said English, who played both guard spots in the tournament. "I may have surprised the other coaches, but I didn't surprise A.J. English."

Even with the signing of English and Foster, the status of two top Bullets players is uncertain less than a month before training camp.

Guard Ledell Eackles, a projected starter, is unsigned. And versatile forward John Williams, who had extensive surgery on his right knee last season, has been fined for abandoning a rehabilitation program.

"I'm not going to worry about him until I see him on Oct. 5," Unseld said of Williams. "When he comes into camp -- and if he's not ready -- then I have a problem. I don't know what his situation is, but I've got other players to worry about. I only worry about things I can actually control."

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