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All-star participants know Williams to be demanding By Jeff Zrebiec Sun Staff Originally published April 13, 2003 Their official arrival in College Park is still more than three months away, but the newest members of the Maryland basketball team have already heard about the responsibilities that they will harbor. They know they will join a program that won a national championship just over 12 months ago, but has lost all playing links from that team. They've heard the buzz that they comprise one of the strongest recruiting classes Terps coach Gary Williams has ever brought in, and realize that on a sophomore-heavy team with only one senior - Jamar Smith, who transferred from Allegany College just last year - contributions from newcomers will not only be needed, they'll be expected. "I don't think there's more pressure on us," said Ekene Ibekwe, a 6-foot-9 forward out of Carson High School in California. "I think this is a good thing what people are saying about us and I'm just happy I'm a part of it." Ibekwe, along with three other future Terrapins, are in town for today's Marines Charm City Challenge, a high school all-star game at the Towson Center. Maryland recruits Ibekwe, Hassan Fofana, a 6-10 center from Worcester, Mass., and Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) and D.J. Strawberry, a 6-4 guard from Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.) will play on the U.S. team, which faces the Baltimore All-Stars in the challenge's nightcap at 6 p.m. The Baltimore All-Stars will be led by Maryland-bound Will Bowers, a 7-foot center from Archbishop Spalding. The Terps' fifth and highest-rated recruit Mike Jones, a 6-5 shooting guard from Thayer Academy (Mass.), played in the McDonald's All-American game in Cleveland last month, but will not play today. For Bowers, a Hanover resident, the opportunity to play for a former national champion so close to home proved too much to pass up. Strawberry and Ibekwe, teammates on a California Amateur Athletic Union team, wanted to head east where they think that the schools, especially those in the Atlantic Coast Conference, get more recognition and attention. Fofana, from the same high school as former Terp Lonny Baxter and current guard Andre Collins, was intrigued by Williams' proven track record with big men. They know how demanding Williams can be on his players. They've watched enough ACC games and seen Williams ranting and raving on the sideline to know that. "He might scare me sometimes, but I'll deal with it," said Ibekwe, enjoying a hearty laugh. All four recruits, who will start taking classes at Maryland this summer, said they are committed to a common goal: keep the Terps among the nation's elite. "It really doesn't matter if I play that much or not, I just want to get better everyday," said Strawberry, the son of former baseball star Darryl Strawberry. "We all just want to contribute and win games." The athletic guard made Maryland his first and only visit, saying College Park and the Comcast Center just felt like home. Strawberry, who averaged 14 points a game this past season and was recruited by Florida State, Oregon and DePaul, will likely help the Terps off the bench in both the point and shooting guard slots, behind John Gilchrist and Collins. A native of Conkary, Guinea, Fofana has played just four seasons of organized basketball - three at Holy Name High School (Mass.) and one at Hargrave Military Academy - but for a 270-pounder, the former soccer player has good quickness and footwork. It's still in rebounding and blocking shots where Fofana's greatest assets and the Terrapins' biggest question marks lie. Maryland returns only two players who are 6-8 or taller. "I know if I do what I'm supposed to do, Coach Williams is going to help me get better," said Fofana, who averaged 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds this season and is considered one of the top 15 high school senior centers. Bowers, much like Fofana, is considered a work in progress. He has a soft touch for a big man, but is still developing low post moves and a Division I body. "I just have to work in the weight room really hard and get in better shape so I can compete at an ACC level," said Bowers, who averaged 12.6 points, six rebounds and three blocks for Spalding in the Baltimore Catholic League. "Hopefully, I can get about 10 or 15 minutes a game and help the team win." Ibekwe, a top 40 player, figures to make much more of an impact. Capable of playing either forward position, Ibekwe is lean and long. He averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds and 4.6 blocks at Carson High School, while flourishing in transition. He was recruited by Kansas, Arizona and Southern California, but Ibekwe's motivation to attend Maryland was simple. "I've always liked the ACC schools - especially North Carolina," said Ibekwe. "But I don't like them any more. Williams is hoping the rest of his heralded freshman class are all such quick studies. National game U.S. All-Stars (coached by Richard Masson, Carson, Calif.) - Akini Adkins (Leon HS, Fla.); Karron Clarke (The Winchendon School, Mass.); Guillermo Diaz (Miami Christian Academy); Hassan Fofana (Hargrave Military Academy, Va.); Ekene Ibekwe (Carson HS, Calif.); Omari Israel (Our Lady of Good Counsel, Wheaton); Mike Nardi (St. Patrick's, N.J.); Will Sheridan (Sandford School, Hockessin, Del.); D.J. Strawberry (Mater Dei, Calif.); Mario Taybron (Ryan Academy, Norfolk, Va.); Franklin Young (Florida A&M HS). Baltimore All-Stars (coached by Mike Glick, Spalding) - Maurice Barksdale (Dunbar); Josh Boone (West Nottingham Academy/South Carroll); Will Bowers (Spalding); Gerald Brown (Hargrave Military Academy/Douglass); Dontaye Draper (Trinity Pawling/Walbrook); Kyle Garrison (Lake Clifton); Byron Joynes (Oak Hill Academy/Towson Catholic); Laronja Owens (Annapolis); Holden Plack (St. Paul's); Mike Popoko (McDonogh); Matt Stevenson (Loch Raven); Levi Stukes (Randallstown). Preliminary game City All-Stars (coached by Rodney Coffield, Douglass) - Charles Brooks (Douglass); Derrick Brookes (St. Frances); Lonnie Embry (Douglass); Anthony Fair (Mount St. Joseph); Paul Frazier (Mervo); Willie Horne (Mount St. Joseph); Brahn Jenkins (Gibbons); Kyle O'Connor (Mount St. Joseph); Brandon Russell (Douglass); Bryan Scroggins (St. Frances); Michael Thompson (Dunbar); Antwan Williams (Mervo). Suburban All-Stars (coached by Pat Clatchey, Mount St. Joseph) - Jared Bradford (Long Reach); Terrance Breaux (Randallstown); Tommy Breaux (Randallstown); Derrick Davis (Goretti); David Douglas (Spalding); Essien Ford (Loyola); Adrian Gross (Southern-AA); Joshua Johnson (Annapolis); Jack McClinton (Calvert Hall); Sean Rozanski (Glenelg Country); Malcolm Thomas (Pikesville); Shawn Velazquez (Mount Hebron). Copyright © 2003, The Baltimore Sun
By RON SNYDER Staff Writer TOWSON - Archbishop Spalding's Will Bowers will trade one red and white jersey for another when he takes to the court next year for Gary Williams and the Maryland Terrapins. But before that, the 7-foot center and most of the Terps incoming class of 2007 gave their fans a sneak peek of what they can expect in College Park next season during yesterday's Marines Charm City Challenge at the Towson Center. Hassan Fofana (Hargrave Military Academy/ Chatham, Va.), Ekene Ibekwe (Carson High School/ Carson/Calif.) and D.J. Strawberry (Mater Dei High/ Santa Ana, Calif) will join Bowers next year. But, last night they were on opposing ends of the court as a team of Baltimore All-Stars, coached by Spalding's Mike Glick, took on a group of U.S. All-Stars. The Baltimore squad, which trailed 73-71 after three quarters, pulled away in the fourth, winning, 112-97 in a game attended by current Terps Ryan Randle, Nik Caner-Medley, John Glichrest and Chris McCray. Bowers and Annapolis guard and Polk Community College-bound Laronja Owens both saw significant playing time yesterday, but neither had a great impact on the game. Bowers struggled with his shot, missing all six of his attempts, finishing with three points and five rebounds. Owens finished with two points, four assists and two steals, including one off of Strawberry, which he converted into an assist in the second quarter. "I was forcing my shot early and knew it wasn't going to be my night so I was looking for ways to get others involved," Bowers said. Glick said he was proud the way Bowers rebounded and felt he would flourish under Williams' system. "Will is a pattern player who will do well in a system with set plays," he said. "This type of game is not the type a player like him will do well in." Although the U.S. All-Stars played the role of visitors, the fans made the newest Terps feel welcome, giving each a nice ovation during the opening introductions. Each of the three gave those in attendance an idea of what type of player each will be for Maryland. Strawberry' s highlights including a full-court pass for an assist and an array of baskets from dunks to jump shots, while Ibekwe displayed his ability to shoot beyond the 3-point arc and drive to the basket. Ibekwe finished with 18, while Strawberry had 12 points and five rebounds. "It means a lot for me to show the fans what I've got this week," Strawberry said. "It has also been a great week to get to know some of my new teammates. When I came to Maryland, it just felt like home to me and I felt that tonight." The 6-foot-9 Fofana displayed his physical side, dropping Bowers to the floor with a hard foul in the second quarter. He finished with seven points and five rebounds. "I don't know (Bowers) real well, yet," Fofana said. "I'm sure he'll sleep well tonight." Bowers said the play was just part of the game and knows it wasn't done intentionally. "Hassan is a real physical player and it will be interesting to face him everyday in practice," Bowers said. In the preliminary game, a group of local suburban high school stars trounced a team of Baltimore City players, 118-89. The Suburban All-Stars included Annapolis' Josh Johnson, Southern's Adrian Gross, who finished with six points and six rebounds, and Spalding's David Douglas (five points, three rebounds). Johnson finished the contest with six points and 10 rebounds despite having not practiced with the team all week. The 6-foot-6 senior officially signed to play at Polk Community College, most likely joining Owens in Florida next season. However, Johnson said that may change depending on his latest SAT scores. He said Wagner has expressed interest in the Panther senior. Johnson said wherever he ends up in the fall, he said it will be difficult knowing that yesterday will be the last time he will take the court as a high schooler. "It will be tough to be watching on the sidelines and wishing you are out there," he said. "But, I'm ready for the next level." Suburban Stars 118, City Stars 89 City (89) Frazier 9 2-3 20, C. Brooks 6(2) 0-2 14, Fair 5 0-0 10, D. Brooks 4 3-4 11, Embry 2 1-2 5, Williams 3 2-3 8, O'Connor 2 (2) 1-2 7, Thompson 2 0-0 4, Horne 0 0-0 0, Jenkins 1 0-0 2, Scroggins 1 0-0 2, Russell 2 2-4 6. Totals: 37(6) 9-16 89. Suburban (118)Thomas 8 0-0 16, Te. Breaux 5 0-0 10, To. Breaux 6(2) 0-0 14, Ford 5(1) 0-0 11, McClinton 6(2) 0-0 14, Bradford 4(1) 0-0 9, Rozanski 5(1) 1-3 12, Davis 6(2) 1-4 15, Gross 3 0-0 6, Douglass 2 1-2 5, Johnson 3 0-1, 6. Totals: 53(9) 3-10 118. Baltimore 112, U.S. 97 U.S (97) Clarke 5(2) 0-2 12, Ibekne 7(2) 2-2 18, Fofana 3 1-2 7, Diaz 7(1) 5-6 20, Taybron 1 0-0 2, Adkins 2 1-2 5, Strawberry 5 2-3 12, Young 5(1) 1-2 12, Sheridan 3 3-4 9. Totals: 38(6) 15-23 97. Baltimore (112) Brown 8 9-14 25, Boone 8 0-0 16, Bowers 0 3-6 3, Draper 3(1) 5-7 12, Stokes 5(3) 0-0 13, Garrison 0 0-0 0, Barksdale 4(2) 5-6 15, Owens 0 2-2 2, Joynes 3 4-4 10, Plack 1 0-0 2, Popoko 2(2) 2-2 8, Stevenson 2(2) 0-0 6. Next High schools story High schools Page Sports Page Top Stories Page Published April 14, 2003, The Capital, Annapolis, Md. Copyright © 2003 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
MVP Brown leads Baltimore stars, 112-97 By Jeff Zrebiec Sun Staff Originally published April 14, 2003 Still about six months away from wearing Maryland basketball uniforms, Will Bowers, Hassan Fofana, Ekene Ibekwe and D.J. Strawberry were welcomed with open arms. A sellout crowd of more than 4,000, many wearing red, and a group of current Maryland players were on hand to greet the future Terps yesterday at the Towson Center in the Marines Charm City Challenge. "It feels great to play here, and I wanted to get the fans something to get excited about," said Strawberry, who threw down a couple of dunks in the game. "I'm just ready to come here and play college basketball." Added Ibekwe, a California native: "I could have stayed in California and played in one of these games, but I wanted to start making the transition." In what seemed like an afterthought, the Baltimore team beat the U.S. All-Stars, 112-97, in a game played in a herky-jerky style, typical of all-star games. Baltimore's Gerald Brown, who helped lead Douglass to a Class 3A state title in 2002 before transferring to Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) this season, earned game Most Valuable Player honors after scoring 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Josh Boone, the former South Carroll forward who is headed to Connecticut, added 16 points, and The Sun's Player of the Year, Maurice Barksdale of Dunbar, contributed 15 for the winners. "This was my last high school game, so I guess the best things come to those who wait," said Brown, bound for Providence. Perhaps the most interesting subplot was the duel between the U.S. team's Fofana and Baltimore's Bowers. On the first possession of the game, Fofana ran down the court and into the paint seeking position and collided with the 7-foot Bowers. The Archbishop Spalding senior, who weighs 250 pounds, clearly got the worst of the collision with the 270-pounder, getting rocked back about a foot and a half. "I could tell from the first play how physical it was going to be down there," said Bowers, who had three points and five rebounds. "Every day in practice, it's going to be just like that. It's going to be fun." Later in the first half, Bowers drove strongly to the basket only to be sent to the floor by a hard foul from Fofana. Fofana (seven points) clearly enjoyed the give and take with his soon-to-be teammate. "I banged him around a little bit. I think he'll sleep well tonight," he said. Strawberry, who got the loudest ovation during pre-game introductions, showed his athleticism by skying to slam down Mario Taybron's alley-oop pass in the second quarter, eliciting some oohs and aahs in the crowd. The 6-4 guard out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., and the son of former major leaguer Darryl Strawberry, finished with 12 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks. He will close his high school career on Thursday in the Capital Classic at MCI Center in Washington. Ibekwe, a 6-9 forward, struggled early, badly missing two open jumpers in the first half. But he got going in the third quarter, showing the inside-outside game that made Kansas and Arizona among his suitors. After a Fofana tip-in, Ibekwe (18 points) hit a three-pointer from just right of the top of the key to give U.S. team a 63-57 lead with just over three minutes to play in the third. Then, after a free throw by Baltimore's Levi Stukes (Randallstown) evened the game at 65, Fofana scored from in close, followed by an athletic tip-in from Ibekwe. Ibekwe swooped in and got a left hand on his teammate's miss while falling under the basket. Ibekwe scored his team's last six points in the third quarter as the U.S. team held a 73-71 lead entering the fourth. Stukes and McDonogh's Mike Popoko, who is headed to Stony Brook, knocked down back-to-back threes to give Baltimore an 87-79 lead with 6:34 left, and it coasted from there. The game's result certainly took a backseat to a new beginning for four soon-to-be Terps. "I think the future is bright at Maryland," said Bowers, who also will play in the Capital Classic. "Everybody there saw what the Maryland players can do." U.S. ALL-STARS-Clarke 12, Diaz 20, , Strawberry 12, Young 12, Taybron 2, Fofana 7, Ibekwe 18, Adkins 5, Sheridan 9. Totals 38 15-23 97. BALTIMORE ALL-STARS-Barksdale (Dunbar) 15, Draper (Walbrook/Trinity Pawling) 12, Owens (Annapolis) 2, Brown (Douglass/Hargrave Military) 25, Stevenson (Loch Raven) 6, Stukes (Randallstown) 13, Bowers (Spalding) 3, Joynes (Towson/Oak Hill) 10, Plack (St. Paul's) 2, Boone (South Carroll/West Nottingham) 16, Popoko (McDonogh) 8. Totals 26 10-23 112. Half: U.S. All-Stars, 47-46. Copyright © 2003, The Baltimore Sun
By RON SNYDER, Staff Writer Archbishop Spalding's Will Bowers and Annapolis' Laronja Owens have excited local basketball fans for years with their play on the court. Now, many in the Baltimore-metropolitan area could possibly get their first glimpse at two of the state's top players and how they perform against some of the best talent in the country during a pair of high school all-star games next week. Bowers, a 7-foot center, and Owens, a 6-foot-1 point guard, will play tomorrow in the Marines Charm City Challenge at the Towson Center and will participate Thursday in the 30th annual Jordan Capital Classic at the MCI Center. "I just want to go out there and have fun and get to know some of these guys this week," said Owens, the two-time Capital-Gazette Newspapers Player of the Year. "This will give me a chance to go out there and see what my level of play is and where I need to improve." Owens, nicknamed Eke, concluded his three-year varsity career as the second-leading scorer in Annapolis High history with 1,624 points and averaged 22.4 points and 5.5 assists per game as a senior. He signed to play next season at Polk Community College in Winter Haven, Fla. Bowers, who will play next season for Gary Williams and the University of Maryland, finished his career with 1,089 points, was second in school history with 573 career rebounds and was first in blocks with 210. "These games are just about having a good time for me," Bowers said. "Games like this will do more for the guys who are still undecided and trying to get a couple more schools to look at them." The Spalding senior will get to test his skills against some of his future teammates tomorrow when the Baltimore All-Star squad on which he and Owens play takes on a team of U.S. All-Stars. The U.S. squad includes incoming Terps Hassan Fofana (Hargrave Military Academy/Chatham, Va.), Ekene Ibekwe (Carson High School/ Carson, Calif.) and D.J. Strawberry (Mater Dei High School/ Santa Ana, Calif.), son of former baseball player Darryl Strawberry. "These types of games are just a chance for these players to have a great experience and for the fans to see some great basketball," said Spalding coach Mike Glick, who will coach the Baltimore All-Stars. While Bowers and Owens will play in the main attraction tomorrow, they will be in the preliminary game in the Capital Classic as part of a game featuring the region's top high school seniors and signees of regional colleges. The main attraction that night will feature a group of national prep stars, most notably LeBron James, the likely top selection in this year's NBA draft. James will be covered by a $10 million insurance policy when he plays in the contest. Through the years, the Capital Classic has showcased the talents of such stars as Michael Jordan, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Magic Johnson and Patrick Ewing, whose son, Patrick Jr. will play in the regional game tomorrow.
Talk about it in the Message Boards With the contact period underway for the Class of 2004, the month of April will be a busy time for Archbishop Spalding (Md.) High School Coach Mike Glick. The veteran coach has 6-8, 205-pound forward Rudy Gay to thank for that. Gay is a top-50 forward that combines terrific athleticism with a solid inside-outside game. Indiana is among the prominent schools that have been in contact with Glick about his rising senior. "(Indiana) has been showing the same interest everyone else has," said Glick. "The only difference is they havenâ€™t come out and evaluated him." Indiana assistant coach Jim Thomas has been to Maryland to see Gay play on several occasions, and IU Coach Mike Davis has talked with Glick about Gay. Both have let Glick know theyâ€™ve been impressed with his play. "They liked his whole game," said Glick. "Iâ€™ve had a chance to talk with Coach Davis, and heâ€™s a real nice guy, and I was real impressed with him as a person. "The kid is a great player, and an NBA-caliber player. They basically said that, â€˜weâ€™d love to have him at Indiana, and weâ€™d like to recruit him.â€™" Glick isnâ€™t surprised by the level of interest in Gay. He helped lead Archbishop Spalding to a 26-7 record this winter by averaging a team-best 13.9 points and 7.1 rebounds, while also tallying a team-high 85 blocks. He did all that while playing alongside a pair of seniors that inked Division I scholarships last fall â€“ 7-0, 250-pound center Will Bowers (Maryland) and 6-7, 225-pound forward Guss Durr, Jr. (Mt. St. Maryâ€™s). Now that heâ€™ll unquestionably be the focal point of the teamâ€™s offensive arsenal, Glick expects Gay to emerge as one on the elite players in the Class of 2004. "Heâ€™s a 6-9 3-man," said Glick. "Heâ€™s probably one of the most athletic players in the country. He has a soft, feathery touch. The kid has the potential to be an NBA player if he continues to develop and continues to work on his game." Glick said Gay reminds him of another player who dominated the teamâ€™s conference before going on to a hugely successful freshman season. "Heâ€™s very, very similar to Carmelo Anthony," said Glick, referring to the Syracuse freshman that led the Orangemen to the NCAA title. "Heâ€™s just a phenomenal athlete. Heâ€™s a Carmelo Anthony clone. Heâ€™s actually further along at the same age than Carmelo was." Indiana joins a lengthy list of schools that are after Gay. While he recently listed approximately 10-15 schools that heâ€™s considering, Glick said that five programs have scheduled trips to the high school set for the coming days â€“ Maryland, Syracuse, Villanova, UConn, and N.C. State. "(Indiana) hasnâ€™t been in yet (during the contact period), so they donâ€™t have a visit set up with him," said Glick. "There are a lot of others that are further along in the process right now, to be honest with you." While that might not seem to be a huge concern considering that itâ€™s still only April, Gay could be closer to a decision than many think, according to Glick. "He could very easily commit by June," said Glick. "Weâ€™re bringing people in, maybe six or seven to talk with him, and then heâ€™ll probably take some officials in May."