SALISBURY -- Andre Foreman will be home for Christmas.
That has more meaning this year than it has in the past.
Foreman is a 6-foot-6 junior on Salisbury State's basketball team who's on a pace to become Maryland's all-time leading scorer. He's also an Army Reservist and ROTC cadet who could be assigned to Operation Desert Shield.
"We could be called up," says Foreman, who is 21. "I try to keep that out of my mind."
As part of a simultaneous membership program, Foreman is one of 90 students studying the Salisbury State ROTC curriculum. He is also one of the 158 men and women who make up the 63rd Military Police Co. (Combat Support) at Seaford, Del. He enlisted with that Army Reserve unit in February 1987, while still a student at Stephen Decatur High in nearby Berlin, Md.
A sergeant with the MP company in Seaford said, "I am not allowed to comment on the nature of our status." But Foreman understands that a call to active duty in the Persian Gulf is possible.
Although he hasn't completed his ROTC training, Foreman has been to MP school, and in the eyes of the Pentagon brass making the calls, he possesses the proper "military occupation skills." Joining the half-million American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia and environs is in the back of Foreman's mind, and his father's.
Captain and soon-to-be Major John Foreman, an assistant principal at Annapolis High, is in his 15th year as a reservist. He encouraged Andre to take advantage of the early entry program for high school students, and he also had something to do with his son attending Salisbury State.
"I felt the ROTC program [at Salisbury State] would be good for Andre," John Foreman said. "The military is a good way to develop some leadership qualities. So many opportunities in the military and business world are made available through the program."
There are other reasons, all linked, that Andre ended up at Salisbury State.
Foreman is one of the nation's top small-college talents, and if you watch him for a half, it's obvious he could play in the lower echelons of Division I. Maryland-Eastern Shore and several other members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference were interested.
John Foreman played a season of junior varsity at UMES in the early 1970s, when the star was Talvin Skinner, his old running mate at Worcester County High who would play for the Seattle Supersonics.
Stephen Decatur was a high school rival, and the coach there was Ward Lambert, who soon after took the Salisbury State job. This is his 21st season running the Sea Gulls. One of Lambert's top players in the mid-1970s was Tyrone Mills, who just happened to coach Andre Foreman at Stephen Decatur.
"My first year teaching was at Buckingham Elementary, when Andre was in the fifth grade," Mills said. "You could see the potential. His senior year, he was a first-team all-Bayside Conference. He played point guard as a junior, because no one else could handle the ball."
Foreman never got Stephen Decatur past the region playoffs, but he was the state Class 1A track and field runner-up in the high jump (6 feet 4) and triple jump (41-5 1/4 ) in 1987. His bounding ability was evident when he moved on to Salisbury State, where he averaged 24.4 points and 11.4 rebounds as a freshman and 25.5 and 12.6 as a sophomore.
The summer after his freshman year, Foreman spent 12 weeks at MP school in Alabama.
The following summer, he was on active duty in Virginia when his dual commitments to school and country caught up with him. During that summer of 1989 he missed all but the exam in a physics class, and received no credit for the course. He was ineligible to play the first semester, and decided to sit out the second semester of the 1989-90 season as well.
Ironically, Lambert had revamped the offense before that season, deciding that Foreman would be even more effective in the up-tempo style popularized by Loyola-Marymount. The Sea Gulls set an NCAA Division III scoring record of 104.5 points per game last season without him, and Foreman's play is the main reason they'll take a 6-3 record into tomorrow's home game against St. Mary's.
"Andre's the reason we went up-tempo," Lambert said. "This style of play is perfect for him. He's good in the open court, and deceptively strong. We press all the time, and he's the one up on the ball. If we get a steal, he's a nice guy to throw it to."
In nine games this season, Foreman is averaging 28.1 points and 13.1 rebounds. He also leads the Sea Gulls in steals, 31; blocked shots, 12; and minutes played, 31.6 a game. He went the entire 40 minutes against Allentown last week, and fatigue might have been one reason he missed a 12-footer in the lane with 10 seconds left that would have tied it.
Foreman missed all three of his three-pointers in that game, and his long-range percentage dipped to 35.1 (13-for-37), second on the team to guard David Byer. He's doing everything Lambert asks of him, and receiving the respect an MP warrants.
"The system tires me out sometimes, but I like it," Foreman said. "When we started doing it last year and I wasn't playing, I couldn't stand watching them. I only went to three or four games."
In 60 games for Salisbury State, Foreman has scored 1,532 points. At his current pace of 28.1 a game, he'll break his own school record for points in a season -- 663 as a sophomore -- and surpass 2,000 by the end of this season.
The Salisbury State career record -- 2,064 by Juan Gabourel from 1976-80 -- should fall next November. Jack Sullivan scored 2,672 for Mount St. Mary's from 1953-57, and that state record is an attainable goal for the latter stages of the 1991-92 season.
That's if Uncle Sam doesn't call first.