Howard's Powell keeps pressure on her game

EVER THE PERFECTIONIST

January 15, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Camille Powell usually makes life difficult for opponents on the basketball court, though she often is harder on herself.

Maybe that's the reason Powell remains one of the county's top players. After earning All-County honors last year and leading Howard to the playoffs, Powell is enjoying a memorable first half of her final year. She has led the Lions to an 8-2 record by averaging 12.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 9.7 steals.

Wednesday night in a 65-39 victory over Oakland Mills, Powell played perhaps the finest game of her four-year varsity career. She scored 22 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had eight assists, 12 steals and four blocked shots. Not a bad night for a 5-foot-8 point guard.

"You have to see her [Powell] to appreciate her, and you aren't going to walk away without being impressed," said Craig O'Connell, Howard's coach.

You also won't catch Powell gloating about her great performances. You're more likely to find her highlighting her occasional off-nights. Like the Lions' playoff loss to Linganore last year, when foul trouble put her on the bench early and never allowed her to get into the flow of the game. Or her 1-for-13 shooting in a loss to Linganore last month.

"There's no excuse for me getting into foul trouble in a playoff game. That still haunts me," Powell said. "I tend to pick up the little things and analyze them over and over. I'm a perfectionist in my school work, and I think it carries over [to sports]. I don't ever want to grow too satisfied."

Powell never has been complacent in the classroom. Since the day she walked into Howard, she has been a straight-A student. With a 4.0 grade-point average, Powell probably will not need sports to help her get a first-rate college education. She already has been accepted at Maryland, and she has applied at Duke, North Carolina, Dartmouth, Princeton and William & Mary.

Her athletic ability can only make Powell more attractive to college recruiters. She has played soccer since age 7, when she joined the Columbia Soccer Association, and she was a two-time All-County fullback at Howard. She started playing basketball at 8. Although she only plays that sport during the high school season, that hasn't stopped Powell from becoming one of the county's impact players.

On a typical night, Powell disrupts opponents like few players in the county can. Combining quickness, long arms and the work ethic that the Lions live by, Powell presents opposing offenses with an array of problems. She constantly slaps away or picks off passes, which spark Howard's effective transition offense.

"You've got to be so careful with your passes if Camille is within six feet of you," O'Connell said.

Offensively, she is an unselfish passer who usually picks the right time to take a medium-range jumper, her favorite shot. She rebounds like a forward at both ends of the floor.

O'Connell still talks about the day Powell walked into her first basketball practice as a freshman. A shy, reserved type, Powell felt intimidated by the older students. But she impressed O'Connell with her raw ability.

"I watched her dribble one time, and I knew she was good enough to stick with us [the varsity]," O'Connell said.

Powell didn't think so. Later, after a rough scrimmage, she approached O'Connell timidly and asked if she was good enough to play on the junior varsity. Having already guaranteed Powell a roster spot in his mind, O'Connell was stunned by the question.

The rest is history. By midseason of her freshman year, Powell was in the starting lineup. As a sophomore, she shared the backcourt with Kristi Greer, who went on to become the Player of the Year and lead Howard to the regional finals. Last year, with Greer having graduated, Powell took over the offense and emerged as one of the league's top guards.

This year, Powell is a co-captain who still has that shyness she had as a freshman, although the angry competitor in her leaps out with a little more regularity. O'Connell says the Lions basically will go as far as Powell takes them.

"She gets angry at times, although she doesn't show it much. When she kicks the bench during a timeout, you know how intense she is," said O'Connell, who got to see another side of Powell when he taught her history as a junior.

"She'll hate me for saying this, but Camille is a saint," he added. "She never speaks out of turn, is always respectful, gets A's on every assignment you give her. She's just a super nice kid. They don't come along that often. I'm humbled to be around her."

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