Osborne's best days may lie ahead Glen Burnie senior is a late bloomer

January 19, 1993|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Staff Writer

If veteran Glen Burnie coach Terry Bogle is right, he and Gophers fans won't get to see Vernon Osborne's best basketball until after he graduates. And then, depending where he plays college ball, they may only read about it.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior is still a raw talent who, according to Bogle, "plays like he's 6-5 and has his best basketball days ahead of him."

Those remarks came after Osborne's performance Friday in a 62-60 thriller over Old Mill (3-4). Osborne scored 17 of his 21 points in the final period including a game-winning three-point play with two seconds to go while playing with four fouls.

"Vernon just took his game to another level and played super as we came back from an eight-point deficit in the final period," said Gophers assistant Mike Rudd.

Such Osborne efforts have become commonplace at Glen Burnie (8-2). Yet, despite such heroics, this young man has apparently only scratched the surface.

"Vernon never played any rec ball, and actually didn't start playing the game until ninth grade on our JV," said Bogle, who is in his 26th season.

"He's not only one of the best players we've had here, but also one of the finest young men you will ever meet."

Osborne's Pentecostal religion, which requires church attendance on Saturdays (the day most recreation leagues play), prevented the him from playing organized basketball until high school. He learned the game practicing on a hoop at his house and in neighborhood pickup games.

His father, Vernon Sr., is a minister at True Fellowship Church in Elkridge where the Harundale family spends most of the day on Saturdays.

"I can't do anything else until after the sun goes down," said Osborne, who turns 18 on Jan. 28 and also works part time at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie on weekends.

"I have played the last couple summers in the league [outdoor] at Lake Waterford," he said.

As a junior, Osborne averaged 17.5 points per game and was named to the Anne Arundel County Sun All-County Boys Basketball second team. This year, he has developed into a complete player.

Osborne is averaging 14.7 points per game, 7.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and three blocks. He has hit 39 percent (50-for-129) of his field-goal attempts from the two-point range and 80 percent (4-for-5) from long distance (three-pointers). At the line, Osborne has made 35 of 53 free-throw attempts, 67 percent.

"What a lot of people don't realize is that Vernon is playing a new position," said Bogle. "He played power forward his first two years, but midway last year we moved him to the No. 3 position, small forward and that's what he is playing now.

"Vernon has also taken on the role of team leader and that's one of the reasons, he didn't get off to a great start, points-wise. But, he showed what he's capable of doing Friday."

Looking out for the senior's best interests, Bogle suggested that if Osborne hoped to play in college, his best shot would be at small forward and not the power position that demands big bodies.

"At first, I didn't like it when Coach Bogle moved me, but I soon realized it was best for me, if I hope to play in college," said Osborne, who carries a 2.80 grade-point average and wants to pursue a career in the computers field. "I'm out on the wing and have learned to drive in."

Division I schools Wagner (New York) and Old Dominion (Norfolk, Va.) and an NAIA school, Belmont Abbey (N.C.), have shown an interest in him.

"I think he can play Division I and he just needs to play more against better competition," said Bogle.

"Vernon has raw ability, is quick and can really jump. He used to shoot strictly right-handed, but now he can go left-handed. He's learning all the time and I think his best days are ahead, because the more he plays the better he will get."

But what about church on Saturdays?

"It will be OK for me to play on Saturdays, but for now my goal is for us to win the region," said Osborne. "We've got the hardest part of our season coming up, and I think we have a real good shot at it."

Glen Burnie will play host to Severna Park (4-6) tonight before Arundel (8-3) comes calling Friday and a Jan. 27 road contest with 14th-ranked Broadneck (7-3).

February brings two games with fourth-ranked Annapolis (7-2) and a home game with No. 18 Meade (9-1).

If last Friday's game is any indication, it could be that Vernon Osborne is about to play his best basketball at the right time.

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