EMMITSBURG -- Washington Bullets captain Darrell Walker was using his sharpest needle to get under the skin of teammate Harvey Grant.
"It says here in Dick Vitale's basketball magazine that you'll never be as good as your brother Horace," said Walker. "It says he's a rebounder and inside scorer who likes to rough it up inside, and you lack his muscles. It says. . ."
Harvey Grant started to interrupt, but knew better. He had heard this song before, and also knew he couldn't win a verbal duel with Walker. But, in fact, the forward last season began to emerge from the shadow of his twin brother, a starting power forward with the Chicago Bulls.
Given an opportunity to start at power forward after Bullets coach Wes Unseld exhausted his other options for replacing injured John Williams, Harvey Grant averaged a respectable 13.3 points and 6.3 rebounds over the final 22 games. Those figures nearly matched his brother's season marks of 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Unseld said he still believes Harvey Grant, 6 feet 9 and 215 pounds, lacks the bulk and inside moves to play power forward full-time, but now regards the former Oklahoma star as one of his most versatile frontcourt weapons.
"Harvey improved dramatically from his rookie year," Unseld said. "He was just more comfortable in knowing what to do. He's always been an aggressive competitor, and last year it just started to pay dividends."
Grant, a first-round draft pick (12th overall) of the Bullets in 1988, said there were times he questioned his ability to compete in the National Basketball Association.
He averaged 5.6 points as a rookie reserve and continued to struggle early last season until injuries and the slow development of rookie forward Tom Hammonds made him a starter by default.
"Wes had tried everybody else -- Hammonds, Ed Horton and Mark Alarie -- before he turned to me," Grant said. "I just wanted a chance. I always felt that you can do just about anything if you get the minutes.
"But the big thing was being more aggressive and setting it in my mind to attack the basket.
"When I scored only two or four points a night my rookie year, it was a real shock for me. I'd always been a big scorer. I started to lose confidence, but my teammates told me I had a bright future and just to be ready when my chance came."
With Williams missing from training camp, Grant still is running at power forward. He spent most of the summer in the weight room, adding 12 pounds to his slender frame.
"I feel stronger and more fluent," he said. "I'll probably lose most of the weight in the course of the season. I know I'm not as strong as most power forwards, but they don't have my outside shot or quickness."
NOTES: Unseld made his first cuts, dropping swing man Lenzie Howell of Arkansas and guard Charles McGill of Albany State.