Booth signs on with Maryland Dunbar star is glad to make it official

April 15, 1993|By Tara Finnegan | Tara Finnegan,Contributing Writer Staff writers Paul McMullen and Pat O'Malley contributed to this article.

Dunbar senior Keith Booth looked as calm as ever, effortlessly shooting jump shots in the Dunbar gymnasium minutes before he signed a national letter of intent to attend the University of Maryland yesterday on the first day of the monthlong signing period.

Booth briefly lost his grip on the blue Erasermate pen because of his shaking hand, but then with a smile, he began to sign the three copies of the letter as he sat beside his mother, Norma Salmon, and across from his coach, Pete Pompey.

"I already read it, Mom," he said to his mother before autographing the first copy at 12:30 p.m.

"I know," she responded with a smile.

And less than five minutes and three signatures later, Booth officially became a Terrapin.

"Once I made the oral commitment two months ago, everything seemed to settle down," the 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward said. "It was just a matter of signing. I already knew the best place for me was Maryland."

Booth, The Baltimore Sun's Boys Player of the Year, averaged 21.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists for the Poets (20-4), who won the Class 1A state tournament this year at Cole Field House.

His most recent trip to his future home court came April 8 when he played in the 20th Capital Classic and was one of five players on the victorious Capital All-Stars team to score in double figures (11 points).

That night he also had the opportunity to play on the same team with future teammate Joe Smith of Norfolk, Va., a 6-9 forward who signed with Maryland last fall.

"The players and coaches have the will to win and I've been winning successfully on the high school level," Booth said. "All the hard work starts over again this summer."

As well as having Smith as a teammate, Booth is looking forward to playing with Duane Simpkins, Exree Hipp and Johnny Rhodes, who he has competed with in summer league basketball.

Booth, who has played virtually every position during his career at Dunbar, has a good chance of playing at shooting guard or small forward at Maryland.

"The best possibility for him is the No. 2 guard," Pompey said. "[Maryland] has decent perimeter players and they need big kids."

Towson State also got a lift for its backcourt, signing 6-1 point guard Michael Keyes, from Woodland Hills High School outside Pittsburgh. Keyes, who averaged 20.9 points, 6.9 assists and 6.1 rebounds, was named to the Western Pennsylvania "Fab Five" selected by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"He's one of the top guards I've ever had," said Woodland Hills coach Matt Furjanic, who coached at Robert Morris and Marist on the collegiate level. "He could have scored more in his career if he wanted to. However, he's a great floor leader."

South River's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, Darren Hall, also signed yesterday. The 6-7 center is joining Liberty of the Big South Conference.

"I visited the school three weekends ago and really liked it," said Hall, who averaged 23.8 points and 12 rebounds this season. "They have seven seniors returning, so after that, I should get a chance to play at least by my sophomore year if not before."

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