Top-rated Bullock brings his smooth touch to Classic

January 26, 1995|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

LAUREL -- From the time his father put a basketball goal in the family's backyard when he was 6 years old, Louis Bullock has been a student of the game.

The strategy. The extra hours in the gym practicing on his outside shot and free-throw shooting. Even to the preparation before a game.

From the moment he puts on his uniform in the locker room until warm-ups are completed, Bullock doesn't allow anyone to touch his right hand.

"I treat the game with a lot of respect," said Bullock. "When I step on the court, I don't show too many emotions. I focus right into the game."

His approach, not to mention his right hand, has made Bullock, a 6-foot-2 guard from Laurel Baptist, the state's No. 1 high school senior player and one of the country's premier performers.

Bullock, whose team will meet No. 3 St. Frances tonight at 8:45 at the First National Bank Charm City Classic at Loyola College, had to adjust to a switch of schools and positions this season -- shooting guard to point. Despite the changes, his numbers have been impressive. He averages 25.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 5.4 steals.

Bullock has drawn comparisons to former St. Maria Goretti and North Carolina State standout Rodney Monroe. The smooth stroke from the perimeter. The silky moves to the basket. The quiet, yet confident, demeanor on the court.

"I thought he was a junior or a senior because of the way he acted and played," said Laurel Baptist coach Chris Chaney, who was Bullock's coach when he was a freshman at the Canterbury School. "He's just so cool and calm on the court, and always knows what to do and when to do it."

Last week against St. John's Prospect Hall of Frederick, then ranked No. 4 by USA Today, Bullock made a three-pointer with 10 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, Bullock was 11-for-11 from the free-throw line, capping a 40-point, seven-rebound and six-assist performance, leading Laurel Baptist to a 62-56 upset win.

"He had the best game of any player that I coached against in 20 years," said St. John's Prospect Hall coach Stu Vetter, whose team will play Calvert Hall tomorrow afternoon at 3:30. "He's certainly very gifted. He can play either at the point or two-guard with his shooting skills."

After averaging 23.8 points as a sophomore, Bullock averaged 27 points, nine rebounds and three assists last season, including a single-game high of 57 points for Canterbury, a private school in Accokeek, Md. In his first 94 varsity games, Bullock scored in double figures in all but one game.

In July, Bullock was ranked as the top wing guard at the Nike Camp in Chicago, igniting interest from college recruiters. In November, Bullock signed with Michigan, choosing the Wolverines over Maryland.

His decision was difficult because he lives 20 minutes from College Park. At Michigan, Bullock probably will be the starting point guard, while at Maryland, he would have had to sit a season behind Duane Simpkins.

"That was important to me, being able to come in and play right away," Bullock said. "The chance to compete is there for me at Michigan.

"With Maryland, I just felt that I wasn't going to get the chance to compete against Duane Simpkins. From the way I was hearing it, I would basically sit behind him. They [Maryland] were focused on my three years on college rather than four. I'm thinking of coming in and learning something my first year instead of watching."

For his first three varsity seasons, Bullock was at Canterbury, which was 51-9 during his sophomore and junior seasons and was quickly becoming a basketball power in the Washington area.

With Bullock and Joe Childress (cousin of Wake Forest's Randolph Childress), plus a talented returning cast, Canterbury -- student enrollment 80 -- was on the brink of national prominence. But the administration at Canterbury decided to de-emphasize basketball.

Childress, a 6-foot senior point guard and Bullock's best friend since elementary school, enrolled at National Christian Academy. With Bullock being recruited as a point guard, a backcourt reunion with Childress wasn't as attractive. Bullock opted for Laurel Baptist.

Bullock said he doesn't think about what could have been. His focus is reaching his ultimate goal of playing in the NBA like his boyhood idol, Isiah Thomas. But even this student of the game understands the reality.

"Basketball opens you up to a lot of things, not just athletically," said Bullock, who plans to major in finance at Michigan. "There's no doubt that I want to play in the NBA, but my parents have taught me to be prepared because basketball can take you only so far."

CHARM CITY CLASSIC TONIGHT

Site: Loyola College's Reitz Arena

Games: No. 16 Cardinal Gibbons (14-6) vs. No. 7 Broadneck (11-1), 5 p.m.; Thomas Johnson (12-1) vs. No. 6 Southwestern (10-4), 6:45 p.m.; Laurel Baptist (23-2) vs. No. 3 St. Frances (15-1), 8:30 p.m.

Tickets: $5 for adults; children under 12 will be admitted free.

Top players: Louis Bullock, Laurel Baptist, 6-2, Sr., G; Josh Davalli, Gibbons, 6-5, Jr., F; Ernie Evans, Southwestern, 6-6, Sr., F; Mark Karcher, St. Frances, 6-5, Soph., F; Alphonso Jones, St. Frances, 6-1, Jr., G; Terrance Morris, Thomas Johnson, 6-7, Soph., F; Reginald Johnson, Southwestern, 6-2, Jr., G; Jason Smith, Broadneck, 6-2, Sr., G; Jason Williams, Thomas Johnson, 6-5, Sr., G.

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