Conwell adds flair, intensity to Scorpions

January 22, 1995|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

On the basketball court Irving Conwell is a perpetual motion machine.

"Pure all-out hustle is his calling card," Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby said. "He's a great, instinctive player who energizes the other kids and thrives on an open-court game."

Conwell's constant hustle is why his teammates have nicknamed him Irvie Love Bug -- after the yellow Volkswagen named Herbie in the movie "The Love Bug."

Conwell, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior who usually plays a swing position, is a key reason No. 10 Oakland Mills (12-1 overall, 5-0 league) is off to one of its best starts ever.

Not only is he talented, he brings excitement.

He wears multi-color knee-high socks and changes the colors he wears from game to game.

"On my left leg I wear our team colors, and on my right leg I wear the other team's colors to show I have team spirit for both teams," Conwell said. "I do it just to be different."

Off the court he likes to talk a lot and clown around so that people won't think he's a snob.

But on the court, except for the socks, he's serious.. Conwell thinks his strengths are instincts and defense. Grant Hill and Joe Dumars are two of his favorite pro players.

Assistant Oakland Mills coach Joe Lewis said: "You can't trap Irving. He's an excellent one-on-one player. He sees the court well and makes excellent passes. He can use his left or his right hand. He could be a Division I college point guard."

Conwell worked hard at becoming proficient with his left hand.

"I used to walk around dribbling the ball with my left hand wherever I went -- up stairs, down hallways -- until I got so I felt more comfortable with my left hand than my natural right," he said. He's not afraid to shoot with his left if he's close to the basket.

But his shooting, he admits, is the one part of his game that needs some work.

He twice has scored more than 30 points this season and averages 20 points and seven rebounds, but calls himself a scorer, not a shooter.

"My freshman year I shot 63 percent, but I don't know what happened after that," he said. He averaged 12 points that freshman year when he started for Hammond's varsity. He transferred to Oakland Mills last spring.

He scores most of his points by slashing hard to the basket, or off rebounds or steals. He likes to dunk and throw the alley-oop pass to teammate Mike Hill.

"He doesn't shoot that well from the perimeter yet," Appleby said. "He needs to work on his hand positioning on the ball."

Conwell pledges he's going to work on his shooting this summer.

Summer is a time of intense basketball activity for him.

He's been to Five-Star camp the past two summers. His AAU team, the Prince George's Jaguars, won the D.C. AAU league championship for under-16 last summer and finished seventh in the country.

That team won the Mountaineer Shootout in Morgantown, W.Va., last summer and he was the tournament MVP.

His Oakland Mills summer team made it to the championship game of the Watkins Mill League but lost to Bullis. He also played in a Baltimore summer league.

His family moved from Detroit to Laurel when he was a fourth-grader, and then to Columbia in ninth grade.

His athleticism and passing ability enabled him to lead Oakland Mills to the league championship in football last fall as quarterback. He's a two-time All-County defensive back.

Colleges are sending him recruitment letters. He'd like to make an early commitment next season. He has a 2.5 grade-point average.

"Irving may be the hardest-working player I've ever coached. He loves the game and ranks up there with the top Oakland Mills players ever," Appleby said. "He's well-rounded. He's also a good kid, and with the proper direction and motivation will be successful."

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