Good tidings for Terps fans

Charm City Challenge

April 06, 2009|By DAVID STEELE | DAVID STEELE,david.steele@baltsun.com

It only seemed as if they had planned it that way. But no, Jordan Williams insisted, when he and James Padgett teamed up to run the Baltimore All-Stars off the Towson Center court in the first four-plus minutes of the second half, they weren't going the extra mile to put on a show for their future fans.

"It just sort of happened," Williams said as he sat on the bench occupied by his U.S. All-Star teammates just minutes earlier Sunday, when they rolled to a 112-86 victory in the Charm City Challenge high school all-star game. "We're both pretty good scorers, and we work hard to get our points. So we just kind of went out and took over the game."

As the pair did - Williams and Padgett combined for 12 of the U.S. team's 19 points in that span, on everything from flying dunks to feathery jumpers - they managed to win the fans' hearts, as well. Besides, as teammates for the first time, they clicked.

They were on the floor together for about 13 of the game's 40 minutes, but the longer they were out there, the more the vision of the two future Maryland big men became clear. Even to each other.

Early in that second half, after helping force a Baltimore turnover, they slapped hands, and when they went to the bench after their outburst, with 5:18 left in the third quarter, they both were grinning, giving and accepting congratulations from their teammates and acknowledging the roar from the stands.

"We had fun," Padgett said. "And the important thing is we got the win."

It was the latest Charm City game to serve as a coming-out party for the incoming Maryland recruiting class. Red gear and turtle logos dotted the stands. The fans wanted to see what Gary Williams was banking on for next season and beyond, what his greatest weapons were against the months of accusations he couldn't recruit anymore.

They weren't let down. Whether Williams and Padgett are really as good as they looked yesterday or they just have a knack for rising to the occasion, it doesn't matter because it works out in Maryland's favor either way.

They looked very good yesterday. Padgett was named Most Valuable Player and had to be called away from a pack of reporters to receive his award. As for Williams, you can't go wrong with a 6-foot-10, 245-pound forward who can block four shots in 14 minutes, grab seven rebounds and step out to the top of the key with his jumper.

Padgett (listed at 6-8, 220) and Williams look like legit Atlantic Coast Conference-level inside players. They were playing with and against top-notch recruits with major-program size, a few of whom they will see in the conference next season. Together, one can see how different they make Maryland and how different this past season would have been with anyone like them.

"It was good to play with him," Williams said. "He's a great player, he works hard and I'm excited to be his teammate."

"This is what we wanted," Padgett said. "We wanted to be in this kind of atmosphere."

The feeling clearly was mutual. Not just before they took the floor, but afterward. That should come as a relief to all of them - the players, fans and, wherever he was, Gary Williams.

Listen to David Steele on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. on Fox Sports 1370 AM.

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