Maryland's long dry spell in recruiting from Dunbar could end with Booth in '93

The Inside Stuff

January 20, 1992|By Bill Tanton

It's about time for Dunbar High basketball players to quit shunning the University of Maryland.

That's all the more obvious in the wake of the display of talent at the Charm City Classic at the Towson Center over the weekend, in which Dunbar beat two New York area opponents, St. Raymond's of The Bronx, 93-82, and St. Anthony's of Jersey City, N.J., 50-49.

Dunbar, the nation's No. 1 high school team, is producing a steady stream of players who go on to just about every top team in the Eastern half of the country except Maryland.

I asked some Dunbar alumni and fans at the Charm City event why their players don't go to College Park.

Some cited the treatment their former coach, Bob Wade, received there. Some even mentioned Dunbar grad Ernest Graham, who was pushed aside at Maryland by coach Lefty Driesell in favor of New Yorker Albert King.

We don't have to look as far back as Reggie Williams and David Wingate, who starred for an NCAA championship team at Georgetown, and wonder what Maryland might have done with those two.

Just look back two days -- to Saturday and Maryland's 91-83 overtime loss to Florida State. Sam Cassell, a Dunbar grad, scored 20 points for the winners. Cassell averages 20 points a game. If he plays for Maryland instead of Florida State, Maryland wins that game.

There's talk that Maryland could get its first Dunbar player since Graham when 6-foot-6 Keith Booth, now a junior, graduates. Terp coach Gary Williams covets Booth, who carries a 3.2 grade point average. It will only take one Dunbar star to begin the flow of talent to Maryland.

The catch in this year's Dunbar senior group is 6-6 Donta Bright. He scored 52 points in the two weekend games and was named tournament MVP.

"Donta will go wherever he wants to go," says Bill Spotts, the Charm City promoter. "I think Maryland still has a way to go in winning over Baltimore kids.

"Ernest Graham is history, but there's hard feelings about Coach Wade -- and I think the way they handled Joe Krivak's situation hurts Maryland. It's too bad. Maryland could be in the top 10 in the country -- maybe the top five -- with Baltimore and Washington kids alone."

* Who says Baltimore is not a basketball town? While the Charm City event was selling out the Towson Center Saturday night (4,553) the Bullets were losing to Philadelphia, 105-101, before a sellout crowd of 12,054 at the Arena.

Dunbar's Bright is an acknowledged college star of the future, but the player in the Charm City tourney whose athleticism dazzled me was 6-7 Rod Rhodes of St. Anthony's. Rhodes has signed with Kentucky. Dunbar coach Pete Pompey says very simply of Rhodes: "He can play."

Quotes from Bob Hurley Sr., who has coached St. Anthony's for 20 years: "Defense is like a savings account. You consistently draw interest on it." Also: "Seniors have a way of coming to play every night. It's their last year."

* The well-deserved election of former Morgan State coach Earl Banks to the College Football Hall of Fame underscores the difference between football at predominantly black schools in Banks' day and today.

Banks had great players such as Leroy Kelly, Willie Lanier and Raymond Chester, who became NFL greats. Players like them are no longer limited to black schools.

I like what Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson tells people who say integration has hurt him -- and who imply, therefore, that it has hurt Morgan:

"Integration didn't hurt us. I would rather it be like it is now where an athlete can go to any school in America than have it where, when he graduated from high school, he had to go to predominantly black schools."

* Gary Williams thought Saturday's game with Florida State could be "a turnaround game" for his Maryland basketball team -- and it nearly was. The Terps' 91-83 overtime loss was their seventh straight.

One statistic says it all about the Maryland setback. FSU scored 43 points off the fastbreak; Maryland scored only 13. Williams thought his running game would be better than that this year.

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