Hemsley plans to attend Miami Southern star spurns Maryland, Georgetown

March 27, 1996|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Whatever suspense there was surrounding yesterday's announcement of what school John Hemsley was going to attend ended when he entered the gym at Southern High.

Then there was shock.

Wearing a University of Miami cap, Hemsley, the area's top boys basketball prospect, announced that he will be signing with Miami, choosing the Hurricanes over Georgetown and Maryland.

"This may be a shock to a lot of people," said Hemsley, a 6-foot-5 forward. "This was a hard decision. The process was long and hard, but I think this is the best decision for me, athletically and academically."

Hemsley, who broke into tears during the news conference, visited the Coral Gables, Fla., campus last weekend, spending most of his time with coach Leonard Hamilton.

He also spent time with sophomore point guard Kevin Norris, a Baltimorean and former standout at Lake Clifton, who played in recreation leagues with Hemsley.

The speculation during the past season was that Hemsley's choice would be Maryland or Georgetown. Yesterday morning, he informed both schools of his decision.

Hemsley, whose only other official visit was to Pittsburgh, said he felt shunned during the recruiting process but did not say by which school.

"Contact wasn't kept and things like that, and I couldn't understand what was going on," said Hemsley, who will be the lone Baltimore-area player in the Capital Classic at USAir Arena April 10. "The schools that supposedly wanted me so badly didn't keep in contact with me. Miami stayed in there with me. They called me every day, and I knew where I stood. I just felt at home there."

Miami finished this past season 15-13 after a 92-62 loss to Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. The Hurricanes lost three seniors.

"For a long time I suspected it would be Maryland or Georgetown," said Southern coach Meredith Smith. "It's a little surprising, but I'm not shocked. Miami is in the Big East Conference and is an up-and-coming program. They expressed to him not only that they wanted him but that they needed him."

Hemsley, who has met the academic requirements to play as a freshman, hopes to be a major contributor next season.

"I think the opportunity will be greater there," said Hemsley, who plans to major in business. "Maryland has a good caliber of players and I could have played a sufficient amount of minutes, but I think at Miami, I'll be on the floor a lot and be looked upon for leadership, even as a freshman."

A two-time first-team All-Metro selection, Hemsley averaged 17.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists this past season, helping Southern to a 24-3 record and a state Class 4A championship.

Pub Date: 3/27/96

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