Goode stuff ahead for teen

December 19, 1993|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

Thirteen-year-old Derrick Goode says his ambition is to be a star center in the NBA.

But if those dreams don't come true, the eighth-grader says he has other plans that are just as ambitious.

"I'd like to own a big and tall store," said Goode. "There are not enough of them around."

He knows from experience.

At 6 feet 9, 230 pounds, this middle-school student, who wears a size 15 shoe, has come to learn that finding a comfortable fit can sometimes be a large hassle.

Lately, though, the only thing larger has been the expanding list of area high school basketball coaches vying to fit him in their uniform.

In just his second year of organized basketball, Goode, a center for the Pikesville 13-14 travel team, has been the terror of Baltimore County, averaging 15 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots a game.

"We've had big kids before, but few who have worked as hard as Derrick," said his coach, Larry Fishel. "With the way he's improved, I expect him to be a star."

Just a little over a year ago, however, the standout center had trouble just making the team. Fishel said he could barely run from the baseline to midcourt without gasping for air.

"He was 6-4, 290, and couldn't even hit the backboard," said Fishel, who had long discussions with head coach Brian Yaniger about whether to keep Goode, who at that time better resembled William "Refrigerator" Perry than Moses Malone.

Goode made the team -- barely -- and dropped over 40 pounds during the course of the season. Under the tutelage of Yaniger, he learned how to catch the ball, make layups, hit foul shots and use his immense frame as a weapon on the court.

His coaches credit much of that improvement to the amount of time Goode has put into learning the game. Over the summer, he got his first taste of city ball playing in the Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League.

And when Fishel told him he had to improve his foul shooting, he began walking to the local court with his grandmother to take 50 foul shots every night. Now he's the second-best foul shooter on the team.

Though he's still raw, coaches are getting a glimpse of his real potential.

"He's intimidating, there's no doubt about that," said Arbutus coach Larry Shockney. "His game has improved tremendously. If he improves on his conditioning, who knows how good he can be?"

But conditioning aside, the most impressive aspect of Derrick Goode isn't his game.

He exhibits a unique blend of intelligence, wit and determination that you just don't find in your average 6-9 13-year-old.

He's a straight-A student at Fallstaff Middle School, loves to crack a good joke and seems willing to go the extra distance to be the best he can in school and sports.

He gets rave reviews from everyone he meets.

"There aren't a whole lot of people you can't say anything bad about," said Yaniger, "but this kid is one of them."

Said Fishel: "He's a great kid, and a leader on the floor. I'm glad that this kid was given this size and ability."

The size comes mostly from his father's side of the family (his grandfather is 6-6), but as for the ability, it's something his mother, Deborah, says she once never thought possible.

"To me it's just like a miracle," she said. "He was always so clumsy as a little kid. He'd just be walking and all of the sudden he'd fall down. He had no coordination whatsoever."

The coordination is coming slowly, as Goode seems to finally be figuring out how to maneuver his huge frame. In the last two years, he's grown over six inches, and his family doctor says he can expect to be well over 7 feet by the time he stops growing.

"I want to grow more," Goode said with a laugh, "but my mom doesn't want that. It's killing her."

For coaches, though, the sky's the limit. The more Derrick grows, the more potential they can find, and the brighter his future.

Next year, Goode will begin to live that future at probably either Loyola, McDonogh, Towson Catholic or Calvert Hall.

Although he will be a project at first, his potential is staggering.

Yaniger remembers his first few days with Goode.

"You'd look at him and you'd know he wasn't a player at that point," said Yaniger, "But then you'd look down the road and realize his potential. He's the guy you've been dreaming about."

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