The Sweet 16: Baltimore's best college basketball players

November 09, 2011|By Matt Bracken, The Baltimore Sun

16. Dylon Cormier, Loyola

Jimmy Patsos was ecstatic to keep Cormier home for college. The Greyhounds coach was not only getting a first-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro player in Cormier, but also a player that would later prove to be his top local recruiter.

After Cormier's pledge, Loyola landed commitments from St. Frances point guard R.J. Williams, Xavier transfer and City grad Jordan Latham, Milford Mill small forward Tevin Hanner and St. Frances center Josh Forney. Williams is now a freshman at Loyola and Latham is a sophomore, while Hanner and Forney will arrive next fall. Patsos credits Cormier, a 2009 Cardinal Gibbons grad, with starting the Baltimore-to-Loyola movement.

"He gets active in the recruiting process," Patsos said. "He tells them what he really likes about Loyola and playing in the league. He loves the league. He's just a great guy."

Cormier's freshman-year success certainly aided his recruiting pitch. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound combo guard started 27 of 30 games for the Greyhounds as a freshman, averaging 8.1 points and three rebounds. Cormier expects his role to expand this season.

"This is the best team I've seen in years at Loyola," Cormier said. "We'll be tough to play. We're [one of] the biggest, strongest teams in the league this year. I'm real excited about this season. We've got a lot more to show."

15. Jamar Briscoe, Charlotte

Briscoe, a 2008 Cardinal Gibbons grad, sat out the 2009-10 season after transferring from North Carolina Central, where he was the second-leading freshman scorer in the country. His sophomore-year production came up a bit short of what he accomplished against a lower level of competition as a freshman, but Briscoe easily proved himself to be one of the Atlantic 10's top newcomers.

"I'd say he had a really good year," said Charlotte coach Alan Major. "Just with our limited numbers, it really puts almost an unfair kind of pressure to ask a guy to handle the ball, take care of the ball and take great shots, defend at a high level and play 35-plus minutes a game. … But … for what we asked him to do, I thought he had a very good season."

A 5-foot-10, 165-pound point guard, Briscoe started 28 games, averaging 12.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals. He guided the 49ers (10-20) to three huge upsets: a 49-48 win over then-No. 7 Tennessee, a double-overtime triumph at Georgia Tech, and a 66-62 home win over Xavier. He's hoping for more noteworthy victories as a junior.

"I want to win, man," Briscoe said. "I'm trying to win. Like I said when I came here, I want to win. I know I've got the chance to play in the A-10, but I want to play in the Atlantic 10 championship. Everybody's got a chance — every team in the conference. But I want to win it, man. I really do."

14. Brendan Bald, Vermont

Expectations among Vermont fans were likely tempered for Bald last season after the former Severna Park star averaged just 2.9 points and 9.9 minutes as a freshman. But John Becker, a Catamounts assistant who was elevated to head coach after the 2010-11 season, wasn't dismayed by Bald's debut. He expected the 2009 Anne Arundel County Player of the Year to make major strides as a sophomore, and Bald delivered.

"He did really well offensively and defensively in the league," Becker said. "He can really guard and take the opposing team's best wing player out of the game."

Bald finished his sophomore year as Vermont's second-leading scorer at 11.3 points per game and its top 3-point shooter at 41 percent. He also served as a lockdown defender on the wing. For his efforts, Bald was named the America East Defensive Player of the Year, in addition to earning third-team all-conference honors. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound wing is primed for an even bigger role this season.

"I'm definitely going to be looked on as an aggressive scorer, and I'm still going to have to lock up the other team's best player," Bald said. "I'm going to have a larger role this year. My team's going to depend on me a bunch. We've got a lot of good guys coming back, a lot of guys that are going to step up. … I think we're going to have a good year and surprise some people in the postseason."

13. Eric Atkins, Notre Dame

After four years as Mount St. Joseph's starting point guard, primarily coming off the bench for the Irish was a strange feeling for Atkins. But the two-time Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection had no problem whatsoever playing a supporting role for Notre Dame, which went 27-7 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament last season.

"I think I had a really good experience as a freshman last year," Atkins said. "Coach Brey told me before the season that pretty much everything was going to be done just the way it happened. He told me how my playing time was going to be. I knew how it was going to play out."

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