Breland makes grade on, off court

Basketball: Oakland Mills' Anthony Breland has taken his game -- and his grade-point average -- to another level after sitting out last season because of inadequate grades.

January 10, 1999|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Oakland Mills' Anthony Breland is making up for lost time.

Academically ineligible last season, the smooth 6-foot-5, 175-pound senior forward is intent upon creating an impact this season.

Through nine games, he leads the Howard County league in scoring with a 24.2 average, shooting 88-for-150 (58 percent) from the field. He's 5-for-9 (56 percent) from three-point range and 27-for-32 (82 percent) from the foul line.

Breland also has 52 rebounds, 32 assists and 24 steals.

All of that has helped Oakland Mills compile a 7-2 overall record and a league-leading 5-0 mark while hoping for its first county title since 1992 and first state title since 1990.

"He's made a big difference on our team," Scorpions coach Dave Appleby said. "He's the element we missed last season -- a great all-around player who sees the court beautifully, handles the ball well, and can go inside. He's a scoring machine but doesn't look like he's looking for points. He works within our system."

Breland's performance comes as no surprise, because he averaged 15 points his sophomore season.

But he has improved his decision-making, outside shooting and passing.

"There's a maturity and calm about him this year," Appleby said. "He seems happy to be around his teammates and to be getting some acclaim."

Breland also has improved in class, garnering a 3.67 grade-point average for the first quarter of this school year.

"It's nice to see that he's improved himself all around," Appleby said.

Breland thinks his best game was against Long Reach Wednesday. He scored 28 points, had five rebounds, three steals and two assists.

"They tried to play a triangle-and-two against him and Murray Graves," Appleby said. "Teams really aren't able to double-team him, because we press so much it's hard to pick him up in the open floor. He and Murray have both height and speed, so it's hard to predict where they'll be."

Veteran Long Reach coach Al Moraz, whose team played No. 1-ranked Archbishop Spalding this season, was impressed with Breland's basketball talent.

"He's on a par with a couple of kids that Spalding has," Moraz said. "The kid's a player. We tried everything and couldn't stop him."

Although Breland thinks Long Reach was his best game, he produced his best numbers against North County -- 33 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and four assists.

He also scored 24 points with seven rebounds, three steals and three assists in an 83-67 loss to third-ranked Annapolis.

Breland and Graves, who also is 6-5, have played together for so long that they complement one another.

"He makes me a better player. I missed having him last season," Graves said.

Breland said: "We know how each other plays."

That teamwork is most evident when the duo combine for alley-oop dunk shots. Breland has 21 dunks and Graves has 17. They serve balls to each other like they've been doing it all their lives.

Breland has played basketball since he was 7, first on Howard County Youth Programs teams, then on Columbia traveling teams. He's played in the Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League and as a pick-up on an Amateur Athletic Union team that finished 10th at last year's nationals in Florida.

Breland also played on the First Baptist AAU team that finished fifth in the state last season. And he played with three of the county's all-time best players -- Barry Young, Ray Peale and Irving Conwell -- as teammates in an unlimited basketball tournament at Towson University last summer.

College basketball is Breland's goal. Appleby sees him as a Division I prospect. Moraz also sees him playing Division I at a school such as Towson, Loyola or UMBC.

Breland said he may attend a prep school next season while he works on his academics.

Pub Date: 1/10/99

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