Pride of the C Conference, Park's Kerr defies defense

February 19, 1991|By Sam Davis

During the preseason, Park School boys basketball coach Web Johnson called talented senior Todd Kerr "an A Conference player in the C Conference."

Johnson should have just painted a bull's-eye on Kerr because his comment saw more copy machines than a chain letter and was posted in several locker rooms by coaches looking for an edge.

Kerr quickly became a target for opponents. He has seen every gimmick defense there is, but none has succeeded.

Kerr remains the Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference's most exciting player, if not its most versatile.

The 6-foot-2 guard/forward has an accurate jumper from three-point range. He is a threat to penetrate with his excellent ball-handling and explodes to the basket with a quick first step.

Kerr, who is averaging 23.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists, leads sixth-seeded Park (11-8) against 11th-seeded Lutheran today (4 p.m.) in a first-round game of the Independent School Tournament at Gilman.

Park finished the regular season with a winning record for the second straight season, including 10-4 in the C Conference's Division I, good for second place and a spot in next week's conference playoffs.

The remarkable thing about Kerr is that he still is learning the game. Kerr did not play on an organized team until he was a seventh-grader at Park.

And his career at Park did not have an illustrious beginning. There was no hint of what was to be.

"I played, but my role was going around the foul line," Kerr said. "They would pass me the ball and I immediately passed it back because I had a tendency to throw it up at the basket."

Kerr's breakthrough occurred after his eighth-grade season, another season of patrolling the foul line and passing.

That summer, Kerr attended the Five Star Camp at Robert Morris College in Coraopolis, Pa. He was assigned to the lowest of three divisions, but his understanding of the game and his skills improved immensely.

"They worked with me a lot, and I ended up being one of the better players on my team, but I wasn't outstanding," said Kerr.

Kerr improved so much that during his ninth-grade season he saw box-and-one and triangle-and-two defenses aimed at stopping him.

"It kind of hit me that I must be doing something right," said Kerr.

Kerr's popularity skyrocketed last season when he averaged 23 points and six rebounds while leading Park to its first winning season (14-10) in more than a decade.

"It kind of came natural to me. A lot of the concepts you have on the basketball court you can also use in the classroom," said Kerr, who carries a B average and scored 900 on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test last year. "I got used to it and easily put it into my game."

Johnson, who is in his first season at Park, says Kerr will get better.

"He needs to get stronger and get more experience," said Johnson. "He gets a little wild sometimes. He reminds me of Pete Maravich. He tends to make four moves when one will suffice. He tends to be a little fancy. When he learns to simplify his game, he will really be something. He has a great step to the basket, and he can finish a play with his right or left hand."

College recruiters from Division III, Division II and a few Division I schools have shown interest.

Johnson, who was an assistant at two Division III schools -- Washington College and Johns Hopkins -- says Kerr could be a standout at that level but also has the potential to play at a higher level.

Kerr, who recently turned 17, is one grade ahead and also is considering a year at prep school.

"Some teams are going to be leery of a kid in our conference," said Johnson. "My feeling is if things don't pan out and he's not happy, he can go a year to prep school. It really comes down to what kind of package he gets from a school, whether it be a full scholarship to a Division I [school] or a whole financial-aid package."

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