Dennison makes an impact No. 1: Glenelg Country School's Bernie Dennison leads the metro area in scoring and rebounding.

January 07, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Glenelg Country School's Bernie Dennison likes being a big fish in a little pond.

Through Glenelg Country's first seven games, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior center was leading the Baltimore metropolitan area in scoring and rebounding.

He had scored 189 points for a 27.0 average and had grabbed 132 rebounds for an 18.8 average.

Last season, his first at Glenelg Country, he averaged 26 points and 16.8 rebounds.

"I like Glenelg Country," he said. "It's an opportunity to make an impact. It feels real good to be the leading scorer in the area."

His team went 17-2 a year ago, but graduated most of the starting team and has won only four of its first seven games. The Dragons start three sophomores.

The school joined the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association league this season and is in the fifth tier of Division C.

"Bernie and Glenelg Country has been a good marriage," Dragons coach John Aquila said. "We highlight him, and he makes us a legitimate team."

Aquila believes that by establishing Dennison first as a force inside, it opens things up for the rest of the team.

Dennison exploded for 41 points and 38 rebounds the first game this season against Barrie Prep. That was a career-high rebounding effort. His top scoring game was 44 last season. The county record is 51, held by Mount Hebron's Barry Young.

"I've coached a number of good players and he's one of the best big men. He maximizes his talents. He's one of the strongest players I've ever coached," Aquila said. "He runs the floor well, is a decent ball handler, has strong post moves -- a good drop step and good power move."

Aquila, coaching his first season at Glenelg Country, thinks Dennison can play at a small Division I school.

"I've received four or five letters apiece from Lehigh, Colgate and the University of Pennsylvania," Dennison said. "Towson State, Western Maryland and Washington College have also been calling me."

He carries a 3.5 GPA, scored 1,160 on the Scholastic Assessment Test and hopes to study pre-law. He's also received an appointment to West Point.

Whatever Dennison lacks in pure athleticism, he makes up for with desire and hustle.

"As the kids say, he doesn't have great hops [leaping ability]," Aquila said. "But like a Wes Unseld type, he positions himself well and works hard on the boards. He always follows his shots. That kind of tenacity can't be taught."

Dennison said he feels he needs to work on his ball-handling skills, if he hopes to continue improving his outside game.

"My biggest improvement this season is my jump shot, which I worked hard on all summer," Dennison said.

He played for Howard High teams in both the Liberty and Howard Community College leagues last summer.

Dennison also continued to work with Kevin McDuffie, who is the basketball instructor at the Supreme Court and a family friend. McDuffie played college basketball and was the college roommate of former NBA standout Reggie Lewis.

Dennison's newfound jump shot makes him tougher to defend.

"It's good that he improved his jump shot," Aquila said. "Because when he's double-teamed or triple-teamed inside sometimes, we have to bring him outside where he can hit the 15-foot jump shot."

One of Dennison's strengths is the ability to draw fouls. He has shot 77 percent at the line.

"That's very good for a big man," Aquila said. "He consistently gets the other team's big man in foul trouble."

One of Dennison's career highlights came last season. It was a 29-point, 14-rebound effort against Laurel Baptist, a team that featured Louis Bullock, one of the Baltimore-Washington areas top players, who is starting as a true freshman at Michigan.

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