A week ago Joe Gower was a lightly recruited star from a small town in Pennsylvania who was leaning toward attending Mount St. Mary's only because the school -- the alma mater of his high school coach -- was one of the few Division I programs to offer him a scholarship.
But a 76-point, 35-rebound outing over the weekend in a tournament for high school players in eastern Pennsylvania suddenly has other colleges clamoring for Gower, 6 feet 8, as the national signing period starts today.
In addition to Mount St. Mary's, four other state schools that failed to sign anyone during the early signing period in October will attempt to add players for the 1991-92 season.
Last week, Gower, one of two recruits Mount St. Mary's hopes to get during the signing period that runs through May 14, told reporters that he was committed to attending school in Emmitsburg in the fall. Although he averaged 30 points and 11 rebounds and led Lehighton High School to an 18-5 record, he played in what's not considered a tough league and wasn't heavily recruited.
But his performance in the Al Donofrio Classic -- he scored 50 points in an earlier game -- reportedly has some Big East schools jockeying to get his signature on a letter of intent. Mount St. Mary's was 8-19 last season and inconsistent on its front line.
At Coppin State, coach Fang Mitchell is hoping his pipeline to the Philadelphia area is open. All but one of the players from this past season were from that area and, with three starters gone, he's looking to land one of four recruits that Coppin is looking closely at.
It's the same situation at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where the Retrievers, who were 7-22 last season, failed to sign anyone early. Coach Earl Hawkins said he hopes to attract one of a "handful" of players he is pursuing.
Towson State, coming off its second straight National Collegiate Athletic Association appearance, attempts to continue to attract local players. It is in the hunt for St. Frances center Devin Gray, Walbrook's Stevie Thomas, Dunbar's Terrance Alexander and Southern's David Cason.
The last of the state teams that failed to sign anyone during the early signing period was Maryland Eastern Shore, which went 5-23 and was eliminated in the first round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament.