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Commitments Are Sign of the Times Bowers, 4 Other Basketball Players Expected to Pledge Allegiance to Terps By Alan Goldenbach and Heather A. Dinich Washington Post Staff Writers Wednesday, November 13, 2002; Page D12 Spalding center Will Bowers has made a lot more friends since he orally committed to sign with the University of Maryland at the end of July. "People just come up to me on the street and introduce themselves," the 7-foot Bowers said. "They're like, 'Are you that kid that's going to Maryland?' It makes me kind of nervous. I guess I just blush a bit. They don't really know my name. I'm just 'That kid.' " "That kid" is one of many Washington area seniors expected to commit formally today at the start of the NCAA's week-long early signing period. Players in all sports except football, soccer, field hockey and men's water polo can sign national letters-of-intent during the period, although many will wait until the late signing period in April to commit. Maryland's men's basketball program is expecting four other commitments now: 6-4 shooting guard Michael Jones from Thayer Academy in Braintree, Mass.; 6-9 forward Ekene Ibekwe of Carson (Calif.) High; 6-10, 270-pound center Hassan Fofana from southern Virginia's Hargrave Military Academy; and 6-3 guard D.J. Strawberry, the son of former baseball star Darryl Strawberry, of Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif. Georgetown is expecting commitments from 6-8 Carroll center Darian Townes and 5-11 point guard Matt Causey of Lilburn, Ga. Virginia is awaiting letters from a pair of shooting guards: 6-3 J.R. Reynolds from Oak Hill Academy, and 6-5 Gary Forbes from Brooklyn, N.Y. Among top area boys' players who intend to sign today is Dunbar All-Met guard Tre Kelly, who will commit to South Carolina. Kelly led the Washington area in scoring last season at 27.9 points per game. Riverdale Baptist forward Sheray Thomas plans to sign with Kentucky, while Ricky Lucas, who will play this season at Herndon, his third high school in as many years, will likely commit to George Washington. Good Counsel forward Omari Isreal will head to Notre Dame. Among the top girls' players signing are West Springfield second-team All-Met center Janielle Dodds (Southern Methodist) and Largo center Melissa Washington (Wake Forest). © 2002 The Washington Post Company
School, farmers play ball on sale Family sells Severn land to Spalding for sports use; By Rona Kobell Sun Staff Originally published November 4, 2002 After more than a year of nail-biting negotiations, Archbishop Spalding High School has an agreement to purchase the adjacent 22-acre farm from three elderly Severn brothers who were determined the property wouldn't become another housing development. The Upton family farm, which will cost the school about $2 million, is one of the few remaining working farms along busy New Cut Road. Spalding plans to convert the land where fruit and tobacco once grew into badly needed playing fields for its lacrosse, soccer and softball teams. The deal, which is expected to close early next year, preserves the house where all 12 Upton children were born after their father cleared the land in 1890. It also leaves the family with 2 acres near the house, and includes the stipulation that Melvin, Calvin and Ridgely Upton are allowed on the field property at any time. The deal won't be closed until Spalding fulfills county requirements, including hooking the property to the public water system. But school officials, who have quietly been talking about the deal for weeks, publicly announced it this month as part of their fund-raising campaign. In addition to the fields, the school is planning its first new construction since it was created in the 1960s -- a new academic and athletic facility that will include eight classrooms, a gym and a weight-training center. The addition is expected to cost $4 million. Melvin Upton, who at 93 is still farming, said he's pleased the family was able to make a deal with the school. Upton, who remembers when the road was unpaved and he could recognize passers-by by the rattle of their trucks, is now surrounded by expensive homes built on land that once belonged to family farms. One such development, Daniel's Purchase, sits on the former Wagner farm next to Upton's sweet potato garden. "If it's to be sold, I'd rather it go to the school, because I don't want no houses on it," said Upton, whose home sits on several acres across from the school that weren't part of the sale. "It's worth something to us to have the school get it." Even so, the deal came precariously close to falling through. Spalding came up significantly in price during the negotiations, but it could not match builders' offers, some of which exceeded $4 million, according to sources familiar with the deal. In the spring, school President Michael Murphy told a group of parents that the family's lawyers had rejected his best offer and that the deal was off. Murphy and the parents were crestfallen. For years, cheerleaders have been practicing in the halls because of lack of space. The soccer team uses a tiny field that lies dangerously close to the main road. The lacrosse teams go to a nearby vocational-technical school for its practice. One field isn't usable on game days because it turns into a parking lot, another is a mostly brown swatch -- not quite big enough for a game -- where the football team warms up. "We had one opportunity," Murphy said of the school's plans to expand fields. "And we knew if we lost that opportunity, it would be lost forever." Three days after he got the rejection, negotiators called back and gave Murphy another chance. The school raised its offer and agreed to pay at closing -- a benefit because home builders sometimes take years to pay. The school won its fields. "When you talk about divine intervention -- I'm convinced that played a role in this case," Murphy said. Students and parents said they're thrilled about the acquisition. "By the time they get everything in order, I'll be gone," said Sam Clement, a senior lacrosse player. "But it's a good investment for the juniors." Pat Brady, who sent his three children to Spalding, said he volunteered to help maintain the grass on the existing field hockey field, but hasn't had the chance because it's in constant use. As he watched his daughter clobber the ball on a recent afternoon, he pointed out the field's holes. "We go to the other schools and they have these beautiful fields," Brady said. "It's always so embarrassing to come to ours." Murphy expects most of the new fields to be ready by next fall. He said the new fields also will allow Spalding to create intramural leagues. But the school's president also is glad Spalding got the Upton land for another reason: He grew up on a Howard County farm that is now a housing development and was sorry to see it go. For years, Spalding students have watched from their windows as the Uptons tended their land. Murphy wants that education to continue and plans to put up a plaque explaining the farm's significance. He also hopes the environmental science classes will make use of a stream behind the farm to learn about the relationship between land use and water. "I think it's important for the kids to know that this didn't suddenly fall out of the sky, that there was a family that worked the farm and provided food to this area and beyond," Murphy said. "It fits well with the mission of the school -- a family that took what they had, expanded it, and shared it with other people." Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun
Boys basketball: Dream matchup benched By CRAIG ANDERSON, Staff Writer Annapolis boys' basketball coach John Brady has pulled his team out of a game with Archbishop Spalding this winter, citing his opposition to private school teams who add public school transfers as the reason. Rudy Gay, a 6-foot-6 Division I prospect from Baltimore, recently transferred to Spalding from public school Eastern Tech, which made Brady decide not to play the highly-anticipated matchup scheduled for Feb. 3, 2003. "I don't agree that once someone starts at a public school they can transfer and play at a private school," Brady said. "That's the reason we're not playing. I don't want to make a big deal about it. That's just the way it is." Spalding coach Mike Glick said he was disappointed with Brady's decision, but declined further comment. Spalding athletic director Lee Dove said he was surprised with Brady's timing. The programs agreed late last spring to play in 2002-03, citing the interest from fans and players the game would draw. After trading telephone messages from Brady at his school office, Dove finally got word from the coach that Annapolis was withdrawing from the game. "John told me he was inclined not to play the game in light of (Gay's) transfer," Dove said. "I told him that we agreed to play the game before we added him, and still wanted to play the game now. "If it were me I certainly wouldn't be cancelling, but I can't speak for John." All-county Annapolis center Josh Johnson said recently that he looked forward to the opportunity of playing against Gay and the rest of Spalding's team. The Panthers are expected to be this year's county public school team to beat, with Johnson and returning player of the year Laronja Owens leading the way. "Our players wanted the game and will be disappointed, but I'm the adult who is making decisions on what's best for the basketball program at Annapolis," Brady said. Gay averaged 19.2 points and 9.7 rebounds as a sophomore at Eastern, and has already received a scholarship offer from Connecticut. Defending national champion Maryland is also hot on his trail, and has received a verbal commitment from 7-foot Spalding senior center Will Bowers. Both schools' administrators said they were looking for games to fill out their schedule. Published October 02, 2002, The Capital, Annapolis, Md. Copyright © 2002 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
Annapolis cancels game with Spalding Transfer of E. Tech's Gay concerns Panthers' Brady; MIAA may change policy By Pat O'Malley Sun Staff Originally published October 2, 2002 The highly anticipated boys basketball game between Annapolis and Archbishop Spalding has been canceled because Annapolis coach John Brady has "philosophical differences" concerning the transfer of junior standout Rudy Gay. Gay, a 6-foot-6 swingman who averaged 12.5 points and 7.3 rebounds for Baltimore County's Eastern Tech last season, transferred in early September to Spalding, a private school in Anne Arundel County. The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association mandates that student athletes who transfer from one league school to another must sit out a season. There is no such rule for transfers of public schools students to MIAA schools. Brady's decision to cancel the Feb. 3 contest, along with the concern of other coaches and officials, may spark the MIAA to change its policy concerning public school transfers. "It is my understanding at this time that at least two member schools will propose that the association adopt a similar rule for transferring student athletes from public schools that currently exists for transfers between its 26 member schools," said MIAA executive director Rick Diggs in a prepared statement. "This rule is similar to the NCAA rule mandating transferring student athletes be prohibited from participating in athletics for one calendar year from the time of the transfer. Unlike the NCAA, the MIAA does have a provision for appeal such as in the case of a geographical relocation." Diggs said MIAA school principals could vote on such a change at their annual May meeting. Said Spalding athletic director Lee Dove: "I would not have a problem with a transfer rule like that because it would dissuade kids from transferring for all the wrong reasons." The Panthers' Brady informed Dove last Friday that he was canceling the game. "John told me he had philosophical reasons with playing us because of the transfer and I respect his wishes," said Dove. "I understand his thought process but the issue is, we scheduled the game last year and would have played the game whether the kid [Gay] came or not." Said Brady: "I have philosophical differences about transfers and that's why I told Lee we no longer wanted to play the game. This has nothing to do with winning or losing. It's just something I feel strongly about." With the rise of Spalding boys basketball in recent years, an Annapolis vs. Spalding meeting had been much ballyhooed in Anne Arundel County. It would match the county's perennial public school power with the Baltimore Catholic League/ MIAA A Conference power. Spalding coach Mike Glick said that Gay transferred "for academic reasons," in order to qualify for Division I basketball. "He loves the school, and his mom said our school has changed her son's life," said Glick. Dove said that "Rudy is in our Aquinas program, which is for students who need extra help, and is doing very well." Added Glick: "We had six transfers [from around the Baltimore Catholic League] play in our all-star games recently. Towson Catholic has a transfer from Africa. I have no other comment ... concerning Rudy and the canceling of the game." A Division I prospect, Gay is being recruited by a number of colleges, including Maryland, Connecticut, Georgetown and Villanova. Many other public school athletes have transferred to private schools. Just last year, Aberdeen's Gary Neal, a second-team All-Metro basketball player, transferred to Calvert Hall for his senior year. Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun
By CRAIG ANDERSON, Staff writer Capital Gazette - 07/31/02 To nobody's surprise, Archbishop Spalding 7-footer Will Bowers finalized his collegiate recruitment last night by verbally committing to defending national champion Maryland. The Terrapins had long been the men's basketball program to beat in the recruiting chase for a center who will help fill the void when frontcourters Tahj Holden and Ryan Randle depart after the 2002-03 season. Bowers, a rising prep senior, can sign a letter of intent in November. Bowers said he decided on Maryland two weeks ago while competing at the adidas ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., but kept it to himself until returning home to tell parents Karen and Bill. Prep coach Mike Glick later told the Maryland staff of his intentions. "I always wanted to go to Maryland," Bowers said. "The coaches, location, style of play and depth chart all fit into what I was looking for." Maryland coach Gary Williams called Bowers yesterday to welcome him into the program. The Terrapins recruiting class already includes highly regarded 6-foot-4 swingman Mike Jones of Massachusetts. "Coach Williams called to congratulate me, and we just talked a bit about the camps I've been at this summer and how they've gone," said Bowers, who just returned from the Vegas Big-Time tournament in Las Vegas. The 17-year-old received scholarship interest from 150 Division I schools, with runner-up Stanford and Notre Dame leading the pack of contenders. With a 1,310 SAT and 3.3 grade-point average, his academic and athletic options were unlimited. In the end, College Park's proximity to his Severn home won out. Bowers has played in pickup games this summer at Maryland, going against incoming freshmen and future teammates Travis Garrison and Nik Caner-Medley. "This is truly where he'll be happy because it's close to home and we're a close-knit family," mother Karen said. Bowers is believed to be the first Anne Arundel County product to earn a scholarship out of high school with the Maryland men's program. Glen Burnie High's Mike Thibeault was a walk-on in the early 1990s and later earned a scholarship. "Will was very mature throughout the whole process and made himself very available to talk about his options," Spalding's Glick said. "He visited with 17 schools in 12 days during April and handled it as well as anyone I've seen in my 10 years of being involved with this. "In the end, Will clearly wanted to go to Maryland. They need big guys, are the defending national champion and a great academic institution. This is a great fit for everyone," Glick said. Bowers, a first team All-County selection by Capital-Gazette Newspapers last season, averaged 12.2 points and six rebounds per game as a junior. The first team All-Catholic League selection also had 61 blocked shots. Even at 235 pounds, Bowers said he needed to get stronger, work on his conditioning and agility for the grind of 40-minute college basketball games. He's had a busy summer of high-level camps and tournaments, and was heading to Ocala, Fla. with a Baltimore Select team (which includes Annapolis county player of the year Laronja Owens) to play in the International Hoop Summit. Next winter, seven Spalding graduates will play Division I basketball -- Derrick Snowden (Villanova), Landy Thompson (Mount St. Mary's), Tremaine Robinson (Delaware State), James Bowen (Delaware State), Derrick Goode (Towson) and Aleksandar Pavlovic (Sacred Heart). Senior to be Gus Durr -- a 6-foot-6 forward -- has drawn Division I interest, including Iona College. firstname.lastname@example.org