Part of Challenge: future UM duo

Collins and Grinnon among U.S. all-stars to face metro squad

High Schools

April 28, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Mike Grinnon's shot bounced off the rim and landed right into the hands of his future Maryland teammate, Andre Collins. Collins, ever the point guard, dished it back to Grinnon, who proceeded to nail a three-pointer.

They had been on the basketball court less than a minute into practice, and the two already clicked. "Mike can score, and I can score," Collins said. "I really think we bring the missing pieces that they will need."

The Collins-Grinnon connection, which could excite Terps followers for the next few seasons, will debut at 8:15 tonight, when they lead the U.S. All-Stars against the Baltimore All-Stars in the first Charm City Challenge at Towson Center.

Both teams practiced the past two days for what tournament organizers plan to be an annual event. Collins and Grinnon should get their fair share of playing time tonight, as well as next season at Maryland.

Up until a few weeks ago, Grinnon's playing time for what should be a deep Maryland team seemed far-fetched. But then backup forward Danny Miller decided to transfer, which has opened the door for the 6-foot-6 Grinnon to be one of the first players off the bench next season, with the ability to back up Byron Mouton.

"It's an unbelievable opportunity since that is the position I'm going to be playing in," Grinnon said of Miller's transfer. "I think it's going to hurt Maryland, because he would have been a senior, but the way I look at it is that it will be a tremendous opportunity for me."

Grinnon is a classic shooter who averaged just under 20 points as a senior at St. Dominic in Oyster Bay, N.Y. He kept up that scoring average and turned in what his coach called some clutch performances late in the season while playing with an ankle injury.

Grinnon, who is lanky, plans to put on some weight this summer and has hired a personal trainer to help with his diet.

"If I can gain just a couple more pounds, with the height I have, that will be good," Grinnon said.

"One thing that I can bring to the table is my shooting. I have a really good outside shot shooting threes. Hopefully, when they start doubling down, I can hit some threes to keep the defense honest."

Grinnon started for three seasons at St. Dominic and chose Maryland over Princeton.

"He's like a brother to me," said Jim Fox, Grinnon's coach at St. Dominic. "We're just not going to be able to replace him, on or off the court. He's friendly with everybody and knows everyone in our school.

"He's always been a tremendous shooter. But his game now is more well-rounded now because he is always working to get better. He gets in good defensive position and uses his long arms. His whole game is improving."

Collins starred at Crisfield in Somerset County before playing last season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., where he averaged 18 points. The 5-10 Collins is expected to back up Steve Blake next season.

He started all four years at Crisfield and averaged 30.5 points and nine rebounds a game. Collins relies on his quickness to get his shot off and set up others. Although he suspects that he'll be the backup until Blake leaves, Collins has not ruled out winning the starting position.

"Not taking anything from Steve, but I'm going to go at him," Collins said. "I don't like playing behind anybody."

Chris Chaney, who will coach the U.S. All-Stars, knows Collins' game well. Chaney coaches at Newport School in Kensington and had his squad face Collins' team last year in a scrimmage.

"I think he is going to bring a lot to the table for Maryland," Chaney said. "He's quick and can score but is a team player. He is used to playing with a whole lot of talent around him, so that should suit him well at Maryland."


Players in the Charm City Challenge, followed by height, current school and college choice:

Baltimore All-Stars

Chris Charles, 7-0, Crispus Attucks, Pa. (Seton Hall)

Sherrod Ford, 6-9, Hargrave Military Academy, Chatham, Va. (Clemson)

Ivan Griffin, 6-7, Towson Catholic (uncommitted)

Jermaine Hancock, 6-2, Edgewood (uncommitted)

Marcus Harrison, 6-6, Mervo (uncommitted)

Keith Jenifer, 6-3, Hargrave Military Academy, Chatham, Va. (uncommitted)

Jai Lewis, 6-6, Aberdeen (uncommitted)

Darshan Luckey, 6-4, Southern-B (St. Francis, Pa.)

Kevin Mickens, 6-7, Mount St. Joseph (uncommitted)

Kenny Minor, 5-7, Dunbar (uncommitted)

Melvin Scott, 6-3, Southern-B (North Carolina)

U.S. All-Stars

Marcus Austin, 6-9, St. Patrick's, Elizabeth, N.J. (Villanova)

Eddie Basden, 6-5, Eleanor Roosevelt, Greenbelt, Md. (Massachusetts)

Andre Collins, 5-10, Hargrave Military Academy, Chatham, Va. (Maryland)

Craig Forth, 7-0, Columbia, East Greenbush, N.Y. (Syracuse)

Brandon Fuss-Cheatam, 5-11, Blackhawk, Beaver Falls, Pa. (Ohio State)

Mike Grinnon, 6-6, St. Dominic, Oyster Bay, N.Y. (Maryland)

Jonathan Hargett, 6-1, National Christian Academy, Fort Washington, Md. (West Virginia)

Ismail Muhammed, 6-5, Mohammed, Atlanta (Georgia Tech)

Josh Powell, 6-9, Riverdale, Riverdale, Ga. (N.C. State)

Derek Stribling, 6-5, Richards, Tallahassee, Fla. (Tennessee)

Dijon Thompson, 6-6, Redondo Union, Redondo Beach, Calif. (UCLA)

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