Anyone who has followed Dunbar High basketball during the past three years knows it's no surprise to see Donta Bright and Michael Lloyd occasionally growl at each other on the court. But anyone who thinks they don't get along doesn't know them very well.
"On the court we tend to argue with each other, but after the game we go out together," said Lloyd. "We let bygones be bygones. Off the court we are the best of friends, like brothers. We never carry anything off the court."
Tonight, Lloyd and Bright will play one of their last games together in the Capital Classic at 8 p.m. at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.
They will play for the Capital All-Stars along with Southern's Kwame Evans against the U.S. All-Stars, who will be coached by Loyola High's Jerry Savage.
Lloyd and Bright will play their last game together April 19 in the McDonald's All-American game in Atlanta, putting the final touches on two of the most successful careers in the history of Dunbar basketball.
Lloyd and Bright are best friends with contrasting personalities. Lloyd is outgoing, openly emotional, talkative and a showman. ,, Bright is quiet and unassuming.
When Bright was named MVP of the Metro Classic last month, Lloyd took the microphone and addressed the Baltimore Arena crowd while Bright slipped into the background.
Their styles of play are almost as different as their personalities. Lloyd, 6 feet 2, is a gambler on defense who can be the prototype point guard on offense. But he also excels at posting opponents inside, taking advantage of his superior jumping skills and strength. He led the Poets in scoring (21.9), assists (6.3) and steals (6.2).
Bright, 6-6, spent nearly his entire high school career playing out of position as a power forward or center, although he is more suited for small forward. A McDonald's and Parade magazine All-American and the Gatorade Circle of Champions state player of the year, Bright is fundamentally sound and has always played better against highly touted opponents. He limited Harker Prep 7-3 center Serge Zwikker (headed for North Carolina) to 14 points. He held Simon Gratz 6-11 junior center Rasheed Wallace to nine points in one of two meetings. Bright averaged 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds this past season.
The two do have some things in common.
"Their personalities are pretty similar in that they hate to lose," said Dunbar coach Pete Pompey. "They will give everything it takes to win, whether it's changing positions or taking the last shot. Their personalities are ones of great confidence."
Lloyd and Bright considered attending the same college. They visited Clemson together, but Lloyd chose Arkansas and Bright has committed to Massachusetts.
"I think they will be outstanding college players," said Stu Vetter, the Harker Prep coach who is coaching the Capital All-Stars. "I think they are in the same league as many of the great guys that have played in the Capital Classic, certainly some of the guys I've coached like Dennis Scott, George Lynch and Aaron Bain. They rank right up there with them and certainly they rank right up there with Dunbar greats like Reggie Williams and Muggsy Bogues, whom I had an opportunity to coach against."
During their three years on the varsity, Bright and Lloyd led th Poets to a 74-5 record that included a 53-game winning streak over the last two seasons. It culminated with a 29-0 record this season and the school's third mythical national title in the last 10 years.
"It's something to look back on and say I'm glad it happened to me to play with a person like Donta," said Lloyd, a McDonald's All-American. "My feelings about Donta will never change. What we do off the court, we do as one."
Bright said: "That's all we talk about is how much we are going to miss each other. We're like brothers, but we must go our separate ways."