Four area stars get another chance to shine in Classic

April 07, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- One definitely wants to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The other wants to get away from the area.

Both brought their wishes closer to reality with outstanding senior seasons, earning berths on the Capital All-Stars team that takes on the United States All-Stars tonight in the 21st Capital Classic at Cole Field House.

For Dunbar High's Rodney Elliott and Southern-Baltimore's Kevin Simpson, The Baltimore Sun Player of the Year, the game represents another chance to raise stock that constantly has risen since their junior years.

It is different for Norman Nolan, Elliott's high school teammate, and Steve Wojciechowski of Cardinal Gibbons, who already are committed to attend Virginia and Duke, respectively.

In the case of Elliott and Simpson, their postseason performances might have great bearing on their final choices.

"I pretty much want to stay near home," said Elliott, who has narrowed his possibilities to Maryland, Clemson and North Carolina State, the only school he has officially visited.

"I know Clemson is not real close, but it is the ACC and to me, that's the highest level of all the conferences. You might as well shoot for the moon."

Elliott, who is 6 foot 8, averaged 14.4 points, 12.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists (near the team high) for the Poets and emerged not only because of his inside play, but because of his ability to pass.

Simpson thrived in last year's summer camps and the progress carried forward for the 6-5 swingman, who led the Bulldogs to a second straight state title, this one in Class 4A.

He had some interest from major schools after a good junior season, but now is on everyone's list. He is considering Maryland, Nevada-Las Vegas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Massachusetts and Temple and expects to make a decision in "a couple of weeks."

"I just kind of exploded this year on defense and offense," said Simpson, who averaged 21.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists in helping Southern to a final No. 2 national ranking.

"The big difference was in my defense. I held my men down well."

Simpson said he is looking "to be away from the local atmosphere" for a while.

"I know I won't get homesick because I've already traveled a lot of places to play," he said. "Where I go will probably be somewhere not very close."

At his best in the biggest games, he scored 34 points against Simon Gratz and a game-high 21 against Rice in the Charm City Classic, Simpson was "somewhat surprised" to be named the Player of the Year.

"I thought Norman would get it because everybody knew about him. But I kind of stepped up and played hard when we went against them."

Elliott also was surprised when he learned that he would play for Capital coach Mike McLeese of Washington's Dunbar High.

"I'll determine a college after all this business is closed," he said. "I just want to go somewhere where I can contribute to my team and win."

McLeese will be aiming for the Capital Stars' fourth victory in the past six years and said he hopes to give all 13 of his players at least 10 minutes on the court.

Of Elliott and Simpson, he said: "I'm sure they have elevated their stock. A lot of Division I coaches are looking toward these guys now and I've had several calls about both of them.

"They knew they could play at this level. Now everybody else does."

The U.S. team will showcase 7-3 center Chase Metheney of Latin (Charlotte, N.C.), third-team All-America Curtis Staples of Oak Hill (Va.) Academy and 6-9 forward Jerod Ward of Clinton (Miss.), considered the top prospect in the nation, who also is undecided.

Staples and Metheney will join Nolan at Virginia, giving the Cavaliers a look next season that will resemble Maryland's lineup this year.

Nolan had an ice pack on his right knee during practice yesterday, but said "it's only some tendinitis. I'll play."

21ST CAPITAL CLASSIC

Site: Cole Field House, College Park

Time: 8 tonight

Tickets: $15 and $10 at U. of Maryland

Parking: Free

Coaches: Capital-All Stars (Mike McLeese, Washington Dunbar); U.S. All-Stars (Frank LaPorte, St. Joseph Notre Dame High, Alameda, Calif.)

Baltimore players: Norman Nolan and Rodney Elliott, Dunbar; Kevin Simpson, Southern; Steve Wojciechowski, Gibbons.

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