GW's Dare keeps on growing, adding polish to imposing game

February 28, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

West Virginia guard Mike Boyd picked up his dribble at the top of the key, hiked the ball upward in a way that announced a jump shot, and then, almost imperceptibly, flinched. Matt Roadcap, Boyd's teammate and the Mountaineers' center, was poised in front of Boyd, a human screen. But lurking several feet away, coiled and alert like a rattlesnake, was Yinka Dare.

Boyd's belief that he had a chance to get off a shot without getting the ball's label tattooed on his forehead, even with Roadcap in between, diminished quickly.

Such is the impact that Dare, George Washington University's center, has on basketball games.

At 7-foot-1 and 265 pounds, Dare (pronounced dah-RAY) is a 19-year-old freshman from Kabba, Nigeria, who is still growing. And, unfortunately for George Washington's future opponents, his growth is expected to extend far beyond the physical.

In only his second season of organized basketball, Yinka Dare inspiring awe among peers and respect from NBA scouts already is being compared to budding superstar Shaquille O'Neal and such accomplished NBA centers as Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, who is also from Nigeria.

"When this year began, I thought that physically Yinka was where Patrick was as a junior in college," said George Washington coach Mike Jarvis, who honed Ewing's skills at Rindge & Latin High School in Cambridge, Mass. "His offensive game is a long way from him having a complete package, but he knows where the basket is and he knows how to get there."

Defensively, the George Washington freshman is already somewhat of a terror.

The Colonials are second nationally in field-goal defense,

allowing opponents only 39.1 percent shooting. Individually, Dare 19th in the nation in rebounding with 10.6 boards a game, and he ranks 17th in blocked shots with 2.7 rejections per contest.

Dare hasn't developed much more than a nasty dunk along with other moves close to the basket, but the muscular pivotman still manages 13 points a game.

What's more frightening is that, along with his quickness and agility, Dare shows signs of having the kind of touch that will allow him to quickly develop his offensive skills away from the hoop.

As a youth in Nigeria, Dare was said to be more than proficient at both tennis and soccer.

It was not until February 1991 that Dare, trying out for the %J Nigerian national team, was spotted by George Washington assistant coach Ed Meyers, who had flown to Africa after getting a tip from a friend.

"I think I can improve a whole lot," said Dare, who averaged 14.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 8.2 blocks at Connecticut's Milford Academy last season. "I don't think there is any limit to what I can do. I'm not going to get to a point and say, 'Oh, this is it.' I'm going to continue to work hard to improve until I leave the game."

Already, NBA executives are salivating in contemplation of the numbers this young man might enter into the league's annals by the time he decides to hang up his sneakers.

There have been scouts at almost all of the Colonials' games this season, representing more than half of the NBA's 27 teams.

"I'd say he's a tremendous prospect," said Gene Shue, the Philadelphia 76ers' director of player personnel. "He really has a world of potential. He could move to the next level of his game so easily because he has the skills."

There has been no talk from Dare about an early bid at an NBA career, and Shue pointed out that his next level would be the elite collegiate ranks. But there are pundits saying that the George Washington center could step into the lottery this spring.

That, countered Jarvis, is ludicrous.

"That's stupidity on their parts," said Jarvis. "They (NBA lottery teams) could pick him. They could pick me."

Cooler heads expect Dare to be ready for the NBA in a couple of years.

"If all the underclassmen who could come out did come out this year, he wouldn't be a lottery pick," Washington Bullets general manager John Nash said. "If only seniors came out, maybe he'd be in the lottery, but he won't be on an NBA level for several years."

Dare is still adjusting to the transition of living in a foreign country and the universally tough job of handling collegiate life.

Dare had a 3.44 grade-point average at Milford, where he toiled under the protective eye of coach Scott Spinelli, who played for Jarvis at Boston University in 1986-89.

Dare came from a close family, the son of a civil engineer and an accomplished tennis player. He speaks dialects of Hausa, Yoruba and Owe, along with English, and has a brother and two sisters. His mother is a consultant for several corporations.

"I wondered if I was going to come over," said Dare. "It was a tough decision. At first, I was nervous. I wasn't sure whether I should come over here. It wasn't so much being away from home. It was the difference in culture."

Dare said that he quickly became comfortable socially but that he has yet to get used to the cold weather and American food.

Jarvis also has had a positive influence on the impressionable center.

"He is a great young man," Jarvis said. "If he stays healthy and keeps his work ethic, he's going to be one of the great players of our time."

Dare, aware of Jarvis' reputation for demanding excellence, came to George Washington ready for a rugged basketball regimen. He found it, but he also found something else.

"I knew this would be hard work, so I expected [Jarvis] to be all basketball," said Dare. "It's more than basketball. He's like a father off and on the court for all of us."

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