Former college rivals work together to make Bullets

July 16, 1991|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Correspondent

BOWIE -- Coppin State 70, Maryland 63.

It was a game played at Cole Field House in December 1989 that Larry Stewart of Coppin will always remember and Cedric Lewis of Maryland is still trying to forget.

"No one figured we could beat Maryland," Stewart said. "They had a front line of Jerrod Mustaf and Tony Massenburg, who both played in the NBA last season, plus Lewis, who led the country in blocked shots last year. "I had 24 points and 12 rebounds. How can I forget it?"

Said Lewis: "That was a game that really got Coach [Gary] Williams upset. I know I didn't have a particularly good game [four points, five rebounds]."

Yesterday at Bowie State, Stewart and Lewis were going at it again, but this time the two free-agent forwards had the same goal -- winning a roster spot with the Washington Bullets, who opened their three-day tryout camp.

Ironically, the two have been preparing for the camp together in Philadelphia, playing one-on-one against each other and with former La Salle star Lionel Simmons, now with the Sacramento Kings.

"I told Cedric I was going to try out with the Bullets, but he never said he was coming here, too. Maybe he didn't want me to know," said Stewart with a laugh.

Both are considered long shots even with a Bullets team that won only 30 games last season. Washington's strong suit was its front line of Bernard King, Pervis Ellison and Harvey Grant, with potential All-Star forward John Williams returning from a knee injury.

"I didn't consider the odds or numbers," said Lewis, a Maryland native. "I just feel I have a chance of making this team and getting to play at home.

"I know the fans always think first about offense and scoring. My strong suits are rebounding and blocking shots, and those are qualities the pro scouts admire."

Still, Lewis, who averaged 11.9 points his senior season, has been working on improving his shooting. He has spent the last few weeks practicing against his older brother, Derrick, who was a more prolific scorer at Maryland.

"He's helping me with my shooting, and I'm helping him with his inside game," Cedric Lewis said.

"We've been testing each other since we were kids, playing on a miniature court in our basement. When we got older, I'd just tag after Derrick and our neighbor Grayson Marshall, who wound up playing at Clemson. They gave me a hard time, but after awhile, they just accepted me as one of the guys."

Derrick Lewis flunked a trial with the Chicago Bulls two years ago and spent last season playing professionally in France.

"Derrick liked France and intends playing there at least another year," said Cedric Lewis. "But right now Europe is my last resort. If I don't make it with the Bullets, I'm going to try out with Boston and Milwaukee. I'll give it my best shot."

Lewis and Stewart were cut last month by the Philadelphia Spirit of the USBL. Both, of course, had explanations. Stewart said the squad was "pre-selected." Lewis, a half-semester short of his degree in family studies, had already committed himself to summer school at Maryland and could not work out travel plans.

Like Lewis, Stewart has always been battling the odds. He was a member of Philadelphia's 1983 Dobbins Tech championship team, but was overshadowed by teammates Bo Kimble and the late Hank Gathers.

The latter two starred for high-scoring Loyola Marymount while Stewart became a minor celebrity at Coppin State, earning MEAC Player of the Year honors his senior year, averaging 23.9 points and 13.4 rebounds.

"I still didn't get invited to audition by any specific NBA team," Stewart said. He did, however, get invited to the pre-draft Chicago camp in June but left a lukewarm impression.

"The Bullets invited me here, but I'm also going to go to the Dallas Mavericks. I'll go wherever I can get a legitimate shot," said Stewart.

NOTES: Top draft pick LaBradford Smith was easily the most impressive of the newcomers. Known more for his scoring, the muscular 6-foot-3 guard displayed excellent court vision operating at the point. . . . G Haywoode Workman was a no-show. The veteran, who has been given a qualifying offer (a 25 percent raise over last year's $120,000 minimum) is in Italy discussing a possible two-year deal with Pesaro Scavallini, the same team that lost the bidding war for Chicago G John Paxson. "I encouraged Haywoode and his agent [Frank Catapano] to pursue the deal," said general manager John Nash. "I didn't think we could be competitive with our salary cap status. Still, there's a chance Haywoode could be back with us Thursday when we start playing rookie games in Detroit." . . . Former Charlotte Hornets F Brian Rowsom also missed the first day of camp. His father experienced kidney problems. . . . Veterans Greg Foster, Larry Robinson, A.J. English and Tom Hammonds, plus Smith have been chosen to play in the L.A. Summer League starting in late July. They will be joined by players from the Pistons and Indiana Pacers. Pistons aide Brendan Malone will serve as coach.

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