Raspa on top of the score and still looking up AACS' leading scorer still shooting for respect

February 18, 1993|By Tom Worgo | Tom Worgo,Contributing Writer

Greg Raspa is making up for lost time.

You didn't hear much about the Annapolis Area Christian School center last season. He sat out his sophomore year.

But Raspa returned this season for the Eagles to rank first in the metro area in scoring (25.4) and sixth in rebounding (12.9). He also averages 3.8 blocks.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Raspa scored a school-record 47 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in a 85-77 win over Capital Christian on Feb. 9. And in two games against league-leading Montrose Christian, a team with two inside players who stand 6-5 and 6-6 -- one of whom is being recruited by Maryland -- Raspa scored 46 points and had 29 rebounds.

Raspa's accomplishments this season may only be the beginning.

"He has good potential to play college basketball," said Joe Snowden, who coached the 16-year-old in a two-week AAU summer clinic last year. "I compare him to players like [Glen Burnie's 6-3] Vernon Osborne, just as big, just as strong, and to [Arundel's 6-5 Richard] Abrams.

"It's unlikely you will find a 6-2 power guy in Division I, realistically. But you never can tell. Even at the Division I level, if they need a player where his potential can come out, then, yeah, he can probably can play Division I."

AACS assistant coach Bart George agrees.

"If he played at a public school, he'd still be considered a top 10 player in the county," George said.

"Greg would probably average just slightly less than what he's averaging now if he were playing for a public school. When he gets the ball inside, regardless of how tall the defender is, he's pretty unstoppable. We may beat a team by 30 points, but Greg is not playing the whole game, and he still gets his high point totals. Some games he sits out two quarters."

Raspa had a chance to play at a public school, but his stint lasted only one semester at Broadneck. He transferred there in September 1991 in anticipation of his parents moving to Arnold from Edgewater, and he aspired to play for the Bruins. But his parents never moved, and after the semester at Broadneck, Raspa decided to go back to AACS.

"He wasn't able to adapt quickly to a program of that extreme, with its emphasis on winning," Gilman said of Raspa, who participated in one day of tryouts at Broadneck. "I don't think he was really ready for that. We don't have the same pressure here you see at a Broadneck or a Annapolis."

Said Raspa: "I just kind of missed being back with my friends. I liked the atmosphere better at AACS. I just didn't have the desire to play at the time, and I wasn't going to force myself to play."

Things will be different in college for Raspa than at Broadneck, Gilman predicts. "In two years, when he's at the college level, he will be able to handle that type of atmosphere," Gilman said. "He will have matured and regained his confidence."

Raspa's strength is his inside game. He can outplay competitors two to four inches taller, usually scoring most of points within five feet of the basket. And he still can hit a jumper from 12 to 15 feet consistently when forced outside.

Raspa hopes to be able to shoot more jumpers next season when some taller players move up from the JV team, allowing him to shift to forward, a position he might play in college.

Raspa played on AACS' varsity as an eighth-grader, playing as its sixth man at forward and averaging 10 points. The next season he averaged 12.9 points and 8.1 rebounds at center and forward.

Last September, Raspa attended the Blue Chip Shootout, a regional Nike two-day camp featuring Division I and Division II prospects, where he averaged 10 points. He hopes his standout performances, playing guard and forward, caught the attention of college scouts.

AACS plays its games at St. John's College because it doesn't have a facility for games yet. The Eagles practice at AACS in an old sanctuary converted into a gymnasium with metal backboards and a tile floor. They also practice in the afternoons in a cafeteria converted into a gym at Germantown Elementary.

The Eagles played Severna Park and St. Mary's this season, but Raspa hears the critics who say the Eagles play a soft schedule and that most players on his team couldn't cut it playing for a public school. He tries to answer them with his statistics and play. But he knows the criticism will remain.

"I hear the people talking about it, saying we don't play the good teams and I score so much because of it," said Raspa, who scored 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked six shots in a loss to Severna Park in December. "I still need to prove myself to the critics. I have to prove myself to every basketball player who sees my name at the top of the list. They ask who am I and what do I got."

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