With 3, maybe 4, Capital Classic could turn into Terrapins' party

Blake, Holden, Nicholas hope that Gaines sees way to College Park, too

April 08, 1999|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- The Maryland basketball program has three of its incoming players performing tonight in the Reebok Capital Classic at the MCI Center.

But by the time the ball is tipped at 7: 30, a fourth could come into the fold.

Reece Gaines, a 6-foot-5 point guard from Madison (Wis.) West High School, may announce his intention to attend Maryland as early as today and plans to make a college decision by tomorrow.

His parents will hold some sway in the matter, particularly his father, Arnold "Clyde" Gaines, who played at Lake Clifton in the 1970s before going to play basketball at Wisconsin.

"My mom and my dad are coming up and I'll get a chance to talk to them," Gaines said. "My dad has a lot of experience in dealing with recruiting."

Gaines hasn't wanted for peer pressure this week. While Maryland signees Tahj Holden and Drew Nicholas play for the U.S. All-Stars, one of Gaines' teammates on the Capital All-Stars is Steve Blake, the 6-3 point guard from Miami who could be Maryland's point guard in November.

Gaines said that Blake has offered him a little encouragement.

"He likes the school and thinks that we could have a pretty good team there," Gaines said. "He thinks they could use another guard."

The guys who will be in College Park for sure this fall -- Blake, Holden and Nicholas -- not only get the perk of playing against some of the nation's best high school players in front of a big audience, but they also get the chance to play in front of some of the same people who will be watching next year, only 20 minutes away from the Maryland campus.

"I'm excited to be playing in front of Maryland fans, to show them what type of player they have coming there," said Blake, who averaged 7.5 points and 8.5 assists while leading Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Va., to another mythical national championship. "I just want to play well so everyone can feel good about having me here.

"There's nothing to prove. I know I can play in the ACC, but I just hope to have a good solid game."

Holden is a slender, 6-10 post player who has drawn comparisons to Danny Manning and averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds at Red Bank (N.J.) Regional High School.

While Holden wants to have fun, he said he is also keeping an eye on fellow big men like Nick Collison, a 6-9 player headed for Kansas, and Samuel Dalembert, a 7-footer who has committed to Seton Hall.

"I just want to see where people are at and what I have to do to get better," Holden said. "My coach says the smart take from the strong. I know I have to get stronger, to work on things like that. I can take a little from Sam and the way he blocks shots, or from Nick and the way he plays in the post."

All said they were stunned but accepting of Maryland's earlier-than-expected ouster from the NCAA tournament, and less stunned but equally accepting of the news of Steve Francis' move to the NBA.

Nicholas, a 6-3 shooting guard from Lutheran High School in Hempstead, N.Y., said he was disappointed that he wouldn't get to play with Francis, but at the same time hopeful that the development might create opportunities for him.

"As soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to put a little more in so that I could fill whatever role," Nicholas said. "Any time you go into the ACC you have to compete. Not many kids are guaranteed starting spots. When you get your shot, you get your shot."

Capital Classic

What: High school all-star basketball game between U.S. All-Stars and Capital All-Stars

When: 7: 30 tonight

Where: MCI Center, Washington

Tickets: Available at $7.50, $12.50 and $17.50

TV: Tape delay on HTS, Saturday, 7: 30 p.m. Pub Date: 4/08/99

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