Ten county basketball players, including 1990-1991 Anne Arundel County Sun Player of the Year Rob Wooster of Annapolis, are going to get a unique opportunity for exposure the last weekend in September.
The 6-foot-6 Wooster, who averaged 14.1 points per game for the 4A state finalist Panthers last year, will join nine other county cagers inthe first Charlie Weber Maryland Invitational at Cole Field House, the University of Maryland at College Park, Sept. 27-29.
The 17-and-under tournament involves 12 teams from Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and Virginia which will compete before a host of college scouts and coaches.
Joining Wooster are Annapolis teammates B. J. Gross, Lozonnah Jones and Josh Gannon; Gene Pleyo of Northeast; Scott Brown of Severna Park; Ravon Austin of Old Mill; Ian Taylor of Meade; Jamah Forbes of Glen Burnie and Wes Van Wambeke of Chesapeake.
"I'm hoping the kids we picked throughout the county will benefit from the exposure, because this is an open-period time for college coaches," said Annapolis 14-year veteran coach John Brady, who was last season's Coach of the Year.
Brady was told about the unique tournament by University of Maryland assistant coach Billy Hahn and saw it as a great opportunity for the players.
"There will be a lot of good young players in this tournament, and the college coaches can come out and observe and even come to our practices torate a kid," said Brady.
College basketball coaches are allowed to see a prospect four times in a given year under National CollegiateAthletic Association rules, but in this tournament they could see a prospect play four times with it only counting as one observation.
"They can also come watch us practice, but that counts as one observation each time, but this gives the kids a chance to be seen even before the regular season begins," said Brady, who has 299 career victories and one state title (1990).
As a result of one practice conducted by Brady's team, which is sponsored by Mike Gunther of Gunther's Rolloff Services, St. Bonaventure has set up a home visit with Wooster in Annapolis.
St. Bonny's head coach Tom Chapman will visit Wooster within the next few days. Chapman and his assistant coach Tiny Green are reportedly very impressed with Wooster, and a visit usually indicates a serious scholarship offer.
Wooster is considering several schools, including Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy, and may make his decision before the starting date of high school hoops practice, Nov. 15.
Brady is hoping more opportunities will evolve from organizing this team. The Annapolis coach and his staff of South River assistant Jack Jordan and Jimmy Savage, a former assistant at Loyola High and Cardinal Gibbons in Baltimore, tried to assemble the best available players from around the county.
Some players were unable to play because of age, prior commitments and participation in fall sports such as football and soccer. Nonetheless, Brady and his staff assembled a good team that will open 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at Cole Field House against Prince George's County.
Gross is a 6-foot-7 junior up from the Annapolis junior varsity, along with the 6-1 James. The other Panther on the team, Gannon is a 6-2 senior.
Pleyo is the slick 6-1 senior guard from Northeast who averaged 14.3 points asa junior for the Eagles and was named All-County second team.
Severna Park's Brown, third-team All-County, averaged 17.2 points a gameas a junior. Brown is a 6-4 senior.
Austin, a 6-0 senior at Old Mill, is very quick and has excellent court instincts, while the 6-3 Taylor of Meade can jump and shoot. Taylor is an excellent athlete like his older brother, Lance.
Lance, a member of the Anne Arundel County Sun All-County Academic Athletic Team, graduated from Meade lastyear and is on an academic/athletic scholarship at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Ian, also a baseball player like Lance, started at first base last Sunday for the Arundel Suns against the Oriolelanders in the Anne Arundel County Sun-Oriolelanders Game.
Glen Burnie's Forbes is an impressive 6-7 junior and the type of player college scouts willkeep an eye on because of his size. Chesapeake's Van Wambeke is a 6-4 senior who keeps getting better the more he plays.
"We will go with a run-and-gun offense in order to give the players a chance to show their natural skills," said Brady, who tried "to spread the talentaround and get as much representation from county schools as possible."
The 12 teams playing are guaranteed three games each. Three groups of four teams each will play in a round-robin situation where the three division winners will meet in the finals on Sunday, Sept. 29.
Cole Field House will be home of a horde of college scouts that weekend. It gives county athletes a chance to show how they might compete on the collegiate level by going against outsiders.