1997 All-Metro boys basketball teams

March 22, 1997|By Derek Toney

Player of the Year

Mark Karcher, St. Frances, forward: Karcher could be the best player ever in the storied history of Baltimore high school basketball. Karcher, who will be playing his final high school game tonight at Frostburg State at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational, has had a remarkable four-year varsity career. The resume: Twice The Sun's boys All-Metro Player of the Year, in addition to being a three-time first-team selection. Karcher is a three-time Catholic League Player of the Year and MVP of the league tournament. He was named first-team All-Catholic League in each of his four seasons, leading St. Frances to three consecutive regular-season and tournament titles. After becoming the first junior in more than a decade, at least, to be named The Sun's Player of the Year, the 6-foot-5 swingman led the area in scoring during the season, averaging 28.7 points a game. He also averaged 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 3.4 steals for the No. 2-ranked Panthers. A Super 25 pick by USA Today, Karcher has played -- and excels in -- all five positions. He can score from anywhere, but his passing and knack of making the right play makes him outstanding. At the First National Bank Charm City Classic, Karcher scored 35 points in 31 minutes, including a three-pointer at the buzzer to send St. Frances past St. John's at Prospect Hall of Frederick, then ranked No. 1 in the country by the Associated Press. He was named co-MVP of the Northwest bracket, along with Tracey McGrady of Mount Zion (N.C.) Academy, a probable NBA first-round draft pick. "He just knows how to play the game," said Tom Konchalski, editor of the HSBI Report and one of the country's top high school boys basketball evaluators. He's definitely the best player to come out of Baltimore since Reggie Williams." Karcher, also a second-team pre-season All-American pick by Street & Smith's, will play in the McDonald's All-American in Colorado Springs, Colo., and in the Magic Roundball Classic in Auburn Hills, Mich. In four seasons, Karcher has led St. Frances to a 97-23 record

(heading into Alhambra Catholic Invitational).

The first team

Demon Brown, Randallstown, guard: Brown, a junior transfer from Douglass, was Baltimore County's best player this season. The 6-foot-1 point guard averaged 22.5 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds, leading Randallstown to the Class 3A state semifinals. There, against Thomas Johnson of Frederick and Maryland-bound Terence Morris, Brown scored a team-high 24 points. Flashy at times, Brown's quickness allows him to create scoring opportunities. "He has the heart of a warrior," said Randallstown coach Kim Rivers. "He's, right now, the best player I've ever coached, and he's still developing." Brown scored in double figures in all Randallstown games, including a season-high 40 against Perry Hall.

Juan Dixon, Calvert Hall, guard: National recruiting guru Bob Gibbons calls Dixon "one of the best pure shooters in the country." The wiry, 6-foot-3 shooting guard averaged 23.4 points and 4.5 rebounds for Calvert Hall, which was runner-up to St. Frances in the Catholic League Tournament for the third consecutive season. At times, Dixon, a senior who has twice been a first-team All-Metro pick, couldn't be stopped from the perimeter but also could create points in other ways. He improved defensively. "He's the catalyst," said his coach, Mark Amatucci. "He's capable of carrying us offensively, and when he puts his mind to it, he's also a good defender. He has proven to be one of the top five guards in the country." Dixon, who scored a career-high 47 points against Washington, D.C., champion Anacostia, was a first-team All-Catholic League selection, as well an All-Catholic League Tournament pick for the second straight year. Dixon, a two-time All-City/County selection, has signed to play for Maryland next season.

Shawn Hampton, St. Frances, center: While Mark Karcher has been the focus of attention, Hampton's presence maybe the biggest reason St. Frances has been a dominant force the last couple seasons. The 6-foot-8 junior center is averaging 19.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and 4.9 blocks for the three-time Catholic League champions. A dominating rebounder and shot blocker who allowed Karcher to move to his natural position on the wing, Hampton improved his offensive game vastly this season. "Shawn now realized he plays a major role in our offense, and he has been getting it done," said St. Frances coach William Wells. Hampton earned a spot on the Catholic League All-Tournament team after scoring a team-high 18 points in the Panthers' 61-57 title victory over Calvert Hall. An All-City/County first-team pick, Hampton also was a first-team All-Catholic League selection.

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