Coach of the Year
Eric Lee Dunbar
In his first season as head coach, Lee guided the storied East Baltimore
school to its seventh state championship in nine years, restoring the briefly
lost status of the area's top program. Under the coaching and leadership of
Lee, a member of the 1985 Dunbar mythical national championship team, the
Poets staved off adversity and steadily climbed from No. 15 in The Sun's Top
20 to finish No. 1.
Several expected returnees transferred to other schools in the off-season,
which was unprecedented for Dunbar, and coach Lynn Badham resigned just days
before the start of practice. Lee was elevated from assistant to head coach of
a Poets team that received its lowest preseason ranking, No. 15. Dunbar had
finished 18-6 and ranked No. 9 the season before, and Southern, Lake Clifton
and Walbrook all appeared to be stronger going into this season. Lee and his
Poets would knock off all three of those Top 10 teams, including Southern
twice on the Bulldogs' home court, the second a 79-73 win for the city
championship. Top 10 team Aberdeen also fell to the Poets, 70-66.
Dunbar beat six ranked teams in all, with its only loss to Harrisburg, Pa.,
82-72, in a holiday tournament. Dunbar went on from there to finish the season
with 20 consecutive wins, including five in postseason play, capped by a 45-43
victory over Wicomico in the state Class 2A final at Cole Field House.
Player of the Year
Carmelo Anthony Towson Catholic, junior
A smooth and graceful 6-foot-7 junior swingman, Anthony, who could go from
the point to the post, left an indelible impression. Anthony, 16, is a
multitalented yet unselfish player who has a lot of fun playing the game.
"Carmelo is a great kid and a great player," said his coach, Mike Daniel.
"He's a team player who loves to get the other players involved. He does
whatever it takes and is not worried about personal glory." Gonzaga (D.C.)
coach Dick Myers called Anthony "a great talent."
Compliments like Myers' were heard often throughout the season as Anthony,
the Baltimore City/County Player of the Year, led the Owls (28-9) to the
Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title, runner-up in
the Baltimore Catholic League tournament and two out of three wins over BCL
champion St. Maria Goretti of Hagerstown.
Anthony, a three-year starter for the Owls, grew nearly 5 inches over the
summer. His quickness, leaping ability, soft hands and scoring from the inside
or perimeter made him a five-position player. Scouts and coaches from a host
of Division I programs, including Maryland, North Carolina and Syracuse,
watched him play this season. Anthony averaged 23.0 points, 10.2 rebounds and
3.7 assists. Despite routine box-and-one schemes to stop him, Anthony
consistently scored in double digits. When opponents zeroed in on him, he
would concentrate on the intangibles that win games.
One of his top games came early in the season, and another at the end. In
the Towson Tip-Off Classic, Anthony had a season-high 37 points, 17 rebounds,
nine assists and six blocks in a 64-62 victory over National Christian. And
there was Anthony's frantic finish in the BCL final at Goucher as Goretti hung
on for a 59-53 victory. With his team down 47-37 with a little more than five
minutes to play, Anthony scored the Owls' final 16 points, including four NBA
three-pointers, to finish with game-high totals of 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Aaron Cook Lake Clifton, senior
Cook, a 6-foot senior guard, was the floor leader of coach Herman Harried's
No. 2-ranked Lakers (20-5), who were a Class 4A state semifinalist. Considered
one of the area's top pure shooters, Cook averaged 18.8 points, 4.1 rebounds
and 3.2 assists for the Lakers. In Lake Clifton's 64-50 loss to Prince
George's Eleanor Roosevelt in the 4A semifinals at Cole Field House, Cook
scored nine points and had five rebounds from his backcourt position. During
the season, Cook shot 44 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point
range and 80 percent from the free-throw line. In an 82-79 victory in overtime
over Southern in the 4A North region semis, Cook was 10-for-11 at the line to
finish with 23 points. In a 63-61 regular-season victory at Southern, he made
the winning shot in overtime.
Daevon Haskins Walbrook, senior
A second-team All-Metro choice as a junior, Haskins this season led No.
5-ranked Walbrook to a 20-6 season and the 4A North region final, where the
Warriors lost to Lake Clifton. Haskins, a 6-foot-3 guard, went from 20.5
points a game as an All-City/County junior to 21.3 points a game this season.
A sharpshooter from the outside with excellent three-point range, Haskins was
a slasher inside with sharp, instinctive moves that enabled him to score from
all angles. He also had 6.9 assists a game for coach Kelvin Bridgers' team.
Haskins scored a season-high 32 points against Perry Hall in a 4A North region
playoff and 30 in a 69-67 loss to host Aberdeen in its holiday tournament
Jai Lewis Aberdeen, senior
Lewis led the metro area in rebounds, averaging 18.3 a game for the No. 4-
ranked Eagles (21-4), the defending 2A state champions who were upset at
Wicomico, 72-58 in the East region final. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound senior, a
second-team All-Metro last year, knows how to use his body in the paint. The
center averaged 14.7 points to finish his three-year varsity career with 993
points and more than 1,000 rebounds. "It's easy to think of Jai as just a big
guy in the paint, but having coached him, I appreciate all the other things he
does," said coach Richard Hart. "He's a complete player with great hands."
Lewis' 4.2 blocked shots, 3.4 assists and 2.0 steals a game support Hart's
claims of his player's ability to step away from the basket and see the floor.
Several second-tier Division I schools have shown interest in Lewis, but he
may end up at a community college, according to Hart.
Darshan Luckey Southern-Baltimore, senior
Luckey, along with his teammate Melvin Scott, are the only All-Metro
first-team repeaters. In something of a disappointing season for the No. 7
Bulldogs (21-5), the 6-foot-4 senior forward averaged 17.5 points, eight
rebounds and 3.5 assists for the city runner-up to Dunbar. Luckey's return
this season was one of the main reasons Southern was No. 1 in The Sun's poll
and ranked nationally by USA Today to start the season.
Also a two-time All-City-County first-teamer, Luckey will join Scott in the
Capital Classic All-Star Game at MCI Center on April 7. A host of schools are
recruiting Luckey, with Georgetown, Delaware, Providence, Duquesne and Wagner
the prominent ones.
Steve Miller Dunbar, senior
Miller emerged as a force his senior year, and the result was a seventh
state title and the No. 1 ranking for the Poets. A 6-foot-3 forward, Miller
averaged 17 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.3 steals and 2.0 blocked
shots for the state champs. In the Poets' 45-43 state championship victory
over Wicomico, Miller scored 11 points as one of only two Dunbar players in
double digits. Miller scored a team-high 23 points in an 80-73 victory over
Southern in their regular-season meeting with the Bulldogs. Creighton, Coastal
Carolina and Western Maryland are among schools that have shown interest in
Kenny Minor Dunbar, senior
The 5-foot-7 package of dynamite was the igniter of the Poets' run from No.
15 to No. 1 in The Sun's final Top 20 and to the Class 2A state title. The
senior guard averaged 17.9 points - including a team-high 12 in a 45-43
victory over Wicomico in the 2A final at Cole Field House - 10.0 assists, 4.0
rebounds and 5.0 steals a game.
In the Poets' 81-71 victory over Fairmont Heights in the 2A state semis,
Minor scored 25 points, including 10-for-11 in free throws during the final
period. Minor sprained an ankle with 50 seconds left in the win over Fairmont
Heights but played on it the next night in the state title game. During the
season, his quickness and savvy enabled him to break down opposing defenses
and create scoring opportunities.
Minor scored 20 in Dunbar's 79-73 victory at Southern for the Baltimore
City title. In the Poets' closest game of the 2A North region, Minor scored 18
in a 65-59 semifinal victory over Catonsville. Coppin State, St. Francis, Pa.,
and Towson are interested in Minor.
Marcus Neal Annapolis, senior
Anne Arundel County's Player of the Year, Neal, 6 feet 1, capped a career as
the Panthers' all-time leading scorer with 1,744 points (second in county
public school history), a school season record 84 three-pointers, and a
county- and school-record 215 career three-pointers. In leading the No.
3-ranked Panthers (24-2) to a 93-12 record in four seasons, the four-year
starter contributed to three county and two region titles.
This season, Neal led the county in scoring with a 30.1-point average (782
total points, second all-time in the county). He also averaged 5.0 rebounds
and 4.0 assists. A three-time All-County guard and second-team All-Metro as a
junior, Neal was the only returning starter from last season's 25-1 team. His
prolific scoring kept Annapolis on top with a second straight undefeated
Neal shot more than 50 percent from the field and 87 percent from the
free-throw line, and scored 40 points or more in a game four times this
season, including a career-high 46. Neal, who will play on April 7 in the
Capital Classic at MCI Center, has not decided on a college.
Melvin Scott Southern-Baltimore, senior
A first-team repeater with teammate Darshan Luckey, the 6-foot-3 senior
guard signed early with North Carolina. Coming off his All-Metro junior season
in which he was named the All-City/County Player of the Year, Scott was a
Super 25 pick by USA Today. Scott, whom coach Meredith Smith ranks as one of
Southern's all-time greatest players, averaged 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.0
assists and 4.3 steals.
Scott, who scored more than 1,150 points his final two seasons, had 23 in
an 82-79 overtime loss to Lake Clifton in the 4A North region semis. Scott
will play in the April 7 Capital Classic at MCI Center.
Marshall Strickland South Carroll, junior
The 6-foot-2 junior guard generated enthusiasm in South Carroll and Carroll
County basketball this season upon his transfer from DeMatha early in the
season. Strickland, Carroll County's Player of the Year, led the Cavaliers to
a 20-5 season and No. 14 ranking in The Sun's poll by averaging an area
overall best 30.5 points a game. In 21 games, Strickland scored 641 points,
shooting 52 percent from the field, 43.5 from three-point range and 75 percent
at the line. He also averaged 4.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals a game.
Strickland had a school-record 49 points against Liberty, 46 in an 84-72
upset of 3A finalist Thomas Johnson and 41 in a 79-72 loss to then-defending
state champion Paint Branch in the 3A West region semis. Strickland led the
Cavs of coach Jim Carnes to the Carroll County title and second place in the
Central Maryland Conference.