Hammond keeps elevating her game

January 25, 1995|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

The only reason Chavonne Hammond made her JV basketball team as a freshman at Radford High School in Hawaii was because of her height. She didn't even understand the rules.

Two years later, she is Anne Arundel County's third-highest scorer and rebounder, leading the Arundel Wildcats to a 13-0 record and No. 10 ranking in the metro area.

There's much more to Hammond than her 5-foot-11 frame.

"She can run the floor, jump, post and handle the ball. And she has an outside shot," said Wildcats coach Lee Rogers, whose team is off to its best start in history.

"She can go to the basket, she passes and she plays defense. And she breaks the press for us all the time. A lot of big men her size can't handle the ball as well as she does."

They probably couldn't have handled the travel, either.

The daughter of a retired Army sergeant, Hammond was born in Virginia and has lived in Florida and Germany. She also lived in Fort Meade for four years before moving to Hawaii, where she stayed for five years before coming to Gambrills as a sophomore.

Rogers, for one, welcomed her arrival, and not just because she is averaging around 18 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and four steals. He discovered something special about Hammond, something that separates her from many student-athletes, he said.

"She's a very spiritual girl. She's very involved in church, and her spiritual leadership is something that's brought a lot to our ballclub," he said.

"She leads by example, and the kids respect her for that. It's not flamboyant. It's just the way she carries herself."

At times, she has carried an Arundel team with no seniors, but perhaps more depth and talent than any 4A school in the county.

A typical outing came Jan. 3, when she amassed 21 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in a 61-40 drubbing of defending 4A East Region champion Annapolis. She had 23 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks in an 80-66 win over Northeast Jan. 6, and 13 points, nine rebounds, five blocks, four steals and three assists in a 53-25 win over Eleanor Roosevelt in Arundel's Christmas Tournament.

Hammond averaged around nine points last season while still getting acquainted with the sport. She wasn't comfortable handling the ball, but extra work with Rogers, her experience that summer with the Chesapeake Bay Hurricanes 15-and-under team that went to the nationals in Shreveport, La., and participation in a couple of camps and three-on-three tournaments, have transformed her into a Division I prospect.

"Playing over the summer helped me a lot," she said. "Last year, I didn't catch the ball that well, but I learned how to catch it. I also had to work on ball-handling, too. Last year, I didn't dribble that much."

Now, she'd love to play point guard, though Rogers mainly uses her at power forward and on the wing.

"In college, she's going to be a small forward," Rogers said. "In some games, we've allowed her to play that position to get some experience there. But most of the time, she plays inside."

For a time, Rogers thought she would be playing somewhere else this season. Her father, Karl, wanted her to transfer to St. Johns-Prospect Hall, a private school in Frederick. Hammond is close friends with the Vikings' Nicole Teasley, and their coach, Steven Kennedy, was an assistant with the Hurricanes.

Hammond had attended a camp in Frederick over the summer, and her parents later visited the school and discussed the

possibility of sending Hammond there.

"I talked to her mom and dad and told them, 'If she's as good as we think she is, it doesn't matter where she goes.' They trusted us, that we would do the right things for her, and it's worked out so far. It's good for us and for her," Rogers said.

Said Hammond: "My dad wanted me to go because he thought the teams we played were more challenging and it was a higher level of competition. But I've been playing here for a while and didn't feel it was fair to leave them. I figured that we haven't won the states yet and that's our goal. I knew we'd have a good team this year."

Karl Hammond has no regrets. He told Chavonne it was her decision, and "I would be happy with whatever she did."

Among the universities interested in Hammond are Seton Hall, Pittsburgh and Maryland.

"And I want to go to a school nearby," she said, "so I won't have to travel far."

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