BCL players given chance to show they've got game

About 70 college coaches watch league's best in showcase at Spalding

October 01, 2001|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

St. Maria Goretti coach Cokie Robertson's idea turned into reality and a huge success yesterday in the first Baltimore Catholic League Preseason Basketball Showcase.

Nearly 70 college coaches were among the crowd that nearly filled Archbishop Spalding's capacity of 850 to watch the BCL's top players participate in an exhibition doubleheader.

"It was not the greatest game to watch, but something like this can help kids get opportunities," said Loyola's Jerry Savage, the dean and only coach still in the BCL since it began 31 years ago.

Team scores and individual statistics were secondary to what amounted to player auditions in front of such schools as Penn State, Holy Cross, Providence, West Virginia, Wake Forest, South Carolina, La Salle, Princeton, Wake Forest, Loyola, Towson and UMBC.

"It's beyond expectations for our kids to be in front of so many college coaches and scouts ... great show, great turnout," said Robertson, whose more than 660 career wins are second among active coaches to Morgan Wootten of De Matha's more than 1,230.

"The idea is not original, but it gave our coaches the opportunity to come together and do something for the entire league."

The eight schools in the BCL, which starts the new season with the first practice Oct. 29, were split into two divisions. The North had Calvert Hall, Loyola, St. Maria Goretti and Towson Catholic. The South was made up of Archbishop Spalding, Cardinal Gibbons, Mount St. Joseph and St. Frances. Juniors and sophomores played in the first North vs. South game followed by the seniors.

Guard Gary Neal, who transferred from Aberdeen to Calvert Hall for his senior year, had a chance to play in front of La Salle assistant Joe Lombardi. Neal committed to La Salle in August, but Spalding seniors Cory Hudson and Landy Thompson were wondering about their futures.

"I was kicked out of Spalding over the summer for academics ... " said Hudson, 6 feet 6. "My grades have kept schools away from me, but I went to summer school and worked hard to get back into Spalding.

"I never thought it would happen to me, but I'm doing well in school now and intend to keep working hard because I want to play in college. I got to show some schools today that I'm a different person now and hope to get a chance."

Spalding coach Mike Glick was talking up Thompson, a 6-1 transfer from Newport Prep, to a couple of coaches.

"A showcase like this helps the borderline players get opportunities, and I feel Landy can play at the next level along with a few other kids who did well today," Glick said.

BCL commissioner Jack Degele said this will be an annual event. "Everybody here today is pleased," he said, "especially the players who may have earned an opportunity or caught the eye of a school."

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