Court pressure a relative matter

Basketball: Anthony Bogues, Brandon Young, Dean Hart Jr. and Ennis Whatley Jr. stay grounded amid high expectations created by accomplished kin.

March 03, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Big shoes to fill.

Before every basketball game, that's the mantra rattling through the heads of Howard's Anthony Bogues, Wilde Lake's Brandon Young, Atholton's Dean Hart Jr. and Pallotti's Ennis Whatley Jr.

It's easy to understand why they can't quite get that thought out of their heads. Their basketball lives are a challenging double-edged sword.

Each has an uncle or a father who played for outstanding college teams, or made it to the professional ranks, and they feel pressured to perform at high levels.

At the same time, each enjoys a relationship that has given him an advantage and a privileged connection to the game unlike any of their contemporaries.

Bogues' uncle, Muggsy, a 5-foot-3 point guard, played 14 years in the NBA, including a nine-year stint with Charlotte before retiring as one of the top 20 in assists in NBA history.

Muggsy, a Wake Forest graduate, also played on two undefeated national championship Baltimore Dunbar teams that went 59-0 during his two seasons in 1981-82 and 1982-83. Reggie Lewis, David Wingate, Reggie Williams and Bogues from that team played in the NBA, and all but Wingate were drafted in the first round.

Those are obviously gigantic shoes that 5-4 junior point guard Anthony Bogues is trying to fill for a Lions team that struggled to a 6-17 record. He averaged nine points and 4.3 assists.

"People expect a lot and are hard on me if I don't play well," said Bogues. "So sometimes it's bad that he's my uncle. But it's also a plus having an uncle that wants you to go to the highest level. He's a good role model. And I talk to him on the phone the day of every game. I spend my summers at his house in Charlotte working on my game."

His uncle said his nephew has a big heart and won't back down.

"You need that little extra something to make it to the next level," said Muggsy, now 39 and two years removed from the NBA. "I try to teach him the game and what his position is all about. Knowledge is a big plus, and he's still learning to run the offense, but I've seen a lot of improvement. He's aggressive defensively, gets in your face like I did."

Whatley, a 14-year pro from Alabama, five years removed from the game and now an ordained minister and motivational speaker, played on several NBA teams. One year in Chicago, as a 6-3 point guard, he set the team single-game assist record of 24.

Ennis Jr. tries hard to live up to his father's reputation, sometimes too hard.

"People complain that I play too aggressively and foul too much," said Ennis Jr.

Whatley Sr. said: "I've had a big influence on Ennis Jr. because we're really close and I'm his biggest critic. I see a lot of me in him, and he can be what I was and more. I was born to assist, but he likes to shoot."

Whatley Jr., a 6-4, 195-pound freshman, averaged 14 points and eight rebounds for an MIAA B Division Pallotti team that went 24-5 after a 7-21 record the previous season.

The two had a particularly poignant father-son moment this year when Ennis Jr. finally beat his 41-year-old father in a one-on-one game, 7-5.

"He always talked a lot of smack, saying I wouldn't beat him until I was 20 years old, but I beat him at 14 with a jumper in his face for the last point," said Whatley Jr, whose best game was a 31-point, 14-rebound, six-assist effort against Friends.

Young is a 6-2, 175-pound junior guard/forward at Wilde Lake who is multiply blessed with talented relatives.

His 6-7 uncle, Barry Young, played on the UNLV national championship team. His 6-5 uncle, Perry Young, played at Virginia Tech and briefly in the NBA. Another uncle, 6-3 Leroy Scott, was also gifted and played at Frostburg State. All three played at Mount Hebron.

"It's very hard for me growing up in their shadow," said Young, who has helped the Wildecats to one of their best seasons at 18-5. "They want me to be as good as them, and they've pushed me to my limits. My uncle Barry, who's been my best coach, always made me stay after practice to make me more committed, and I didn't like it at first - until I got to high school and realized how important the game is to my life. For all the pain I went through, it turned me into a good ballplayer."

Young averages 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and 2.3 steals.

His coach, Phil Chenier Jr., who also played at Wilde Lake, knows exactly what Young is going through, since Chenier's father played in the NBA.

"Instead of establishing my own marks, everything was always a comparison to him," said Chenier Jr., a late bloomer who led Wilde Lake to the state final four his senior year. "You couldn't get out of that shadow. But I wouldn't have traded it for anything. He's always been my hero and role model. We have a great relationship."

Hart, a 6-2, 180-pound sophomore, doesn't start for the 16-7 Atholton Raiders, but he gets playing time.

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