LANDOVER -- A wide-eyed Cap Centre crowd of 10,002 caught Donyell Marshall on the fly last night.
The 6-foot-8 high school All-American from Reading, Pa., punctuated an 18-point performance in the Capital Classic with three thunderous second-half dunks, then left open the question of where he will attend college next fall.
Maryland or Syracuse, he said, with a decision in two weeks. Beyond that, Marshall was noncommittal.
Maryland fans were quickly crossing their fingers after Marshall and 6-11 center Cherokee Parks, who is Duke-bound, led the United States All-Stars on a 114-89 frolic past the Capital All-Stars.
Having already visited College Park once, Marshall got a second look around Cole Field House this week. As fate would have it, bTC that's where the U.S. stars practiced. "I got a feel for the campus, but I don't know if it will help the decision," he hedged.
Marshall said he liked what he saw of the "social life" at both Syracuse and Maryland. If you read between the lines, you might deduce the Terps are in good position.
The lines: "The Maryland coaches are just like my coaches back home . . . If you don't have a good feel for the coach and the school, you're not going to be happy."
And even if Maryland has another year of NCAA probation remaining, the ongoing investigation into alleged violations in the Syracuse program could hurt the Orangemen's chances of landing Marshall. "At first it had no effect," he said. "But lately I've been hearing more and more. It might have an effect."
Marshall had an explosive effect at the end of the fastbreak last night. In the space of little more than six minutes in the second half, he slam-dunked three times and had two lay-ins. All but one of those field goals came off the transition game. The outburst helped turn a 56-53 U.S. lead to a 76-65 rout-in-the-making.
In the first half, Marshall appeared tentative, although he showed an outside touch with a three-point basket.
"The first half I wasn't into it," he said. "I was trying to get a feel for the game. Most of the team was trying to get a feel. In the second half, I knew whoever covered me, I felt I was quicker, that I could score."
Marshall, Pennsylvania's Player of the Year, hit eight of 14 field goal attempts, took six rebounds and had two steals. Parks, California's Player of the Year, had 14 points, 16 rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals. Parks will take back to Huntington Beach the most valuable player award for the U.S. team and the tie he had autographed by President Bush during a visit to the White House. "I got a pin from [Bush's] secretary, too," Parks said.
The Capital All-Stars MVP award went to Johnny Rhodes, a 6-5 swingman from Washington Dunbar. Rhodes scored 15 points (7-for-16 from the field) and made four steals. He wants to play for Gary Williams at Maryland, but his SAT scores are below admissible standards. He'll try the SATs again in May, he said, "and if my scores don't go up, I'll go to prep school." Rhodes said he would attend Maryland a year later in that event.
Meanwhile, the one Maryland recruit who has signed his letter of intent and is ready to come to College Park struggled for the Capital stars. Wayne Bristol, a 6-2 guard from High Point, went 0-for-7 from the field and was scoreless. But he did contribute four assists.
"For me it was a long night," Bristol said. "My shot didn't fall and that made it a longer night. I thought I played pretty well defensively. It was a learning experience, though. I got picked off pretty good out there."
Devin Gray of St. Frances, who had an emergency appendectomy two weeks ago, suited up for the Capital stars, but did not see action.