Goodman's college prep

Basketball: A year from Gary Williams' exams, Tamir Goodman is going to summer school -- `definitely holding his own' vs. collegians, pros and fellow prep stars.

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

Tamir Goodman is out to prove a couple of things this summer.

For one, Goodman, 17, hopes to justify the attention that came to him last winter as the stringy, yarmulke-wearing guard who got a basketball scholarship from the University of Maryland.

For another, Goodman wants to show he is more than the gunner who averaged 35.4 points as a junior while carrying the attack at Talmudical Academy, a 62-boy Orthodox Jewish school in Pikesville.

"This is my stretch, the most important stretch in my life and I've got to take advantage of it," he said. "There's only one going-into-senior-year summer in my life."

Goodman has kept a frenzied schedule, competing locally in the Baltimore Coalition League and the Charm City League vs. pros and collegians and against prep players in the Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League.

In between pickup games at colleges, he also has traveled to Princeton for an NBA camp and is attending the ABCD camp this weekend in Teaneck, N.J. Later he expects to go to the Five-Star camp in Pittsburgh.

On the court -- against the tougher competition and while enduring backaches -- his grades have been passing.

"I think he's going to be good," said Rudy Archer, a former Maryland guard who was on an opposition team. "He knows the game, but right now he's playing with guys who are pros. They're going to tend not to give younger guys a shot. Once he learns to play at this level, he's going to be fine."

Said Derrick Lewis, one of Goodman's teammates on his Baltimore Coalition squad, "He's definitely holding his own out there."

Lewis, a former Terp who plays professionally in France, said he appreciates the restraint and knowledge of the game that Goodman has shown.

"When you look at a lot of young guys, everything is flash and trash -- no fundamentals," he said. "Guys don't know how to pump-fake and cut to the basket like [Goodman] does."

In two games at the Baltimore Coalition League, Goodman's distributive skills showed that the 6-foot-3 guard doesn't need to be a scorer to be effective. He consistently gave his team a lift against players five to 10 years older. Conversely, his team seemed to flounder when he left the lineup.

"I've noticed that many times," said Pat McKindles, his coach in the league. "The offense seems to flow better with him in there."

In Goodman's second game playing along with Derrick and Cedric Lewis (Derrick's brother and also a former Terp), his team was even against a Washington team. McKindles took Goodman out, only to watch the opponents go on a 17-4 run.

Goodman returned and his team's 11-point deficit dwindled.

"See that, see that," said Harold Katz, Goodman's mentor, referring to the narrowing gap on the scoreboard. "And look at who's in there."

Katz was his coach last season at Talmudical and has become his chaperon for now, as the second-team All-Metro selection looks for a new school for his final season. Katz, who accompanies Goodman nearly everywhere, says Goodman feeds the post better than any other prep player he has played with.

On the sidelines at UMBC Fieldhouse, Katz goes even farther. Meaning no disrespect to the Retrievers, who invited Goodman to be their guest for a few games of late-night pickup, he said, "If I were looking for the best player, I'd be looking at the kid with one year left in high school."

Subjective? Certainly. In fact, one could make the case that Goodman -- running with college kids who won the Northeast Conference regular-season title -- stood out only in the context of his blue yarmulke, the fact that his mentor was there, and the fact that his jumper was stubbornly uncooperative.

In no small achievement, Goodman blended in with the likes of Terence Ward, Brad Martin, Jason Womble and Kennedy Okafor.

The games started at 9: 30 p.m., and one hour later, players were starting to get weary. The group broke up at about 11 p.m., to the 17-year-old's disbelief.

"I can't believe this is Division I," Goodman said, while writhing in pain, leaving it unclear whether the source of his discomfort was the gall of the UMBC players for leaving or the thumb he had jammed in the last game.

`A sweet family'

Three nights later at Maryland, Goodman took the court with players such as Terence Morris, Danny Miller, Mike Mardesich and Juan Dixon, all part of the family that Goodman will be joining in about 14 months.

"And it's a sweet family," Goodman said. "I'm excited because I realize that I'm so lucky."

Goodman has been working out to prepare for his initiation, trying to add mass to his sinewy frame. In less than a year, his bench press has increased from the bar (45 pounds) to the 230 pounds he said he last cleared.

For now, the guys in College Park already have abbreviated Tamir, calling out "Tee!" whenever they want him to pass the ball. Children at coach Gary Williams' camp sought autographs.

Most importantly, Goodman got to play point guard, the position most geared to his talents.

"He doesn't need to score," Katz said. "If he makes the right play, that's good enough."

In an effort to de-emphasize the shooting aspect of his offensive game, Goodman seemed to hold back. On his first touch of his first game, he had an open look and hesitated.

"It's like if he doesn't pass it to the right person, people won't talk to him anymore," Katz said. "He's got to get over that."

Eventually, Goodman found the right person, kicking it out to Dixon for a three-pointer. He followed up with a steal on the defensive end, then drove past his defender for a bucket.

Goodman's team won two in a row, building his confidence as he prepared for a camp that was to begin two days later at Princeton.

"When I go there, there's not going to be anyone quicker than this," Goodman said. "Every move, I've seen it out here."

Pub Date: 7/08/99

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