Dunbar High's two McDonald's All-Americans, Donta Bright and Michael Lloyd, who led the Poets to the nation's No. 1 ranking and a 29-0 record this past season, have made oral commitments to Massachusetts and Arkansas, respectively.
Both are expected to make their decisions official after April 15, when the NCAA signing period begins for basketball players.
Bright's decision is somewhat of a surprise. The 6-foot-5 center/forward, who was The Baltimore Sun's Player of the Year this past season, had been leaning toward Ohio State.
"I was [going to Ohio State] at first, but Massachusetts did well in the NCAAs [tournament] and, with the players they have, I just felt more comfortable," said Bright, who was chosen as the state's Gatorade Player of the Year and a Parade All-American.
Bright, who averaged 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds last season, also had visited Clemson, St. John's and Ohio State. However, Bright's familiarity with Massachusetts head coach John Calipari and assistant Bill Bayno from summer camps the past three years was an advantage for Massachusetts.
"Ohio State and St. John's were tough for Donta to turn down," said Dunbar coach Pete Pompey. "Those are two very good programs. It's a credit to John Calipari."
Arkansas was the front-runner all along for Lloyd, a 6-2 point guard who led the Poets in scoring (21.9) and assists (6.3) last season. He also visited Clemson and Minnesota.
"The atmosphere was nice there," Lloyd said. "It was like city life. I thought it would be like the country. As far as the academic help for athletes, like tutors whenever you need them, it seems like it will all be there."
Neither Lloyd nor Bright has scored 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which is necessary for freshman eligibility. Both took the test Saturday, but have failed in two previous attempts.
Pompey said both schools are prepared to allow Lloyd and Bright to sit out their freshman years if necessary, which likely rules out a stay at a prep school or junior college for either.
Bright, a three-time All-Metro first-team choice, has been heralded as the better high school player of the two. However, he might have to make the tougher transition in college.
Bright said he will be used primarily as a shooting guard after four years as a center and forward in high school. Though Bright is an outstanding rebounder, quick and capable of hitting the three-pointer, he has limited experience handling the ball and playing on the perimeter.
"The two guard will be tough for him," said Pompey, "but it's not a lot of ball handling, and what will help is his great first step and he has a stop pull-up jumper that's incredible. He probably fits more nicely into a small-forward spot, but the coach up there has to do what he thinks is best."
Lloyd might have an opportunity to start immediately for the Razorbacks, who lose senior point guard Lee Mayberry.
"I think I can pretty much start with my work ethic," said Lloyd, a first-team All-Metro selection the past two seasons. "I'm not going in there expecting them to give me nothing. I'm going to work hard."
tTC Pompey said that 6-0 shooting guard Diego Jones, also a first-team All-Metro selection, is expected to sign with a Division I school. Jones visited Clemson a week ago and plans to visit Duquesne, Delaware, Towson State and Loyola.