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 final.

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 Miller.

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 county season.

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.