Coach of the Year
Eric Lee Dunbar
In his first season as head coach, Lee guided the storied East Baltimoreschool to its seventh state championship in nine years, restoring the brieflylost status of the area's top program. Under the coaching and leadership ofLee, a member of the 1985 Dunbar mythical national championship team, thePoets staved off adversity and steadily climbed from No. 15 in The Sun's Top20 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 daysbefore the start of practice. Lee was elevated from assistant to head coach ofa Poets team that received its lowest preseason ranking, No. 15. Dunbar hadfinished 18-6 and ranked No. 9 the season before, and Southern, Lake Cliftonand Walbrook all appeared to be stronger going into this season. Lee and hisPoets would knock off all three of those Top 10 teams, including Southerntwice on the Bulldogs' home court, the second a 79-73 win for the citychampionship. 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 seasonwith 20 consecutive wins, including five in postseason play, capped by a 45-43victory 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 fromthe point to the post, left an indelible impression. Anthony, 16, is amultitalented 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 doeswhatever 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 theMaryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title, runner-up inthe Baltimore Catholic League tournament and two out of three wins over BCLchampion St. Maria Goretti of Hagerstown.
Anthony, a three-year starter for the Owls, grew nearly 5 inches over thesummer. His quickness, leaping ability, soft hands and scoring from the insideor perimeter made him a five-position player. Scouts and coaches from a hostof Division I programs, including Maryland, North Carolina and Syracuse,watched him play this season. Anthony averaged 23.0 points, 10.2 rebounds and3.7 assists. Despite routine box-and-one schemes to stop him, Anthonyconsistently scored in double digits. When opponents zeroed in on him, hewould concentrate on the intangibles that win games.
One of his top games came early in the season, and another at the end. Inthe 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. Andthere was Anthony's frantic finish in the BCL final at Goucher as Goretti hungon for a 59-53 victory. With his team down 47-37 with a little more than fiveminutes to play, Anthony scored the Owls' final 16 points, including four NBAthree-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'sNo. 2-ranked Lakers (20-5), who were a Class 4A state semifinalist. Consideredone of the area's top pure shooters, Cook averaged 18.8 points, 4.1 reboundsand 3.2 assists for the Lakers. In Lake Clifton's 64-50 loss to PrinceGeorge's Eleanor Roosevelt in the 4A semifinals at Cole Field House, Cookscored nine points and had five rebounds from his backcourt position. Duringthe season, Cook shot 44 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-pointrange and 80 percent from the free-throw line. In an 82-79 victory in overtimeover Southern in the 4A North region semis, Cook was 10-for-11 at the line tofinish with 23 points. In a 63-61 regular-season victory at Southern, he madethe 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 theWarriors lost to Lake Clifton. Haskins, a 6-foot-3 guard, went from 20.5points 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 wasa slasher inside with sharp, instinctive moves that enabled him to score fromall 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 regionplayoff and 30 in a 69-67 loss to host Aberdeen in its holiday tournamentfinal.
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 atWicomico, 72-58 in the East region final. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound senior, asecond-team All-Metro last year, knows how to use his body in the paint. Thecenter averaged 14.7 points to finish his three-year varsity career with 993points and more than 1,000 rebounds. "It's easy to think of Jai as just a bigguy in the paint, but having coached him, I appreciate all the other things hedoes," 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'sclaims 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 hemay 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-Metrofirst-team repeaters. In something of a disappointing season for the No. 7Bulldogs (21-5), the 6-foot-4 senior forward averaged 17.5 points, eightrebounds and 3.5 assists for the city runner-up to Dunbar. Luckey's returnthis season was one of the main reasons Southern was No. 1 in The Sun's polland ranked nationally by USA Today to start the season.
Also a two-time All-City-County first-teamer, Luckey will join Scott in theCapital Classic All-Star Game at MCI Center on April 7. A host of schools arerecruiting Luckey, with Georgetown, Delaware, Providence, Duquesne and Wagnerthe prominent ones.
Steve Miller Dunbar, senior
Miller emerged as a force his senior year, and the result was a seventhstate title and the No. 1 ranking for the Poets. A 6-foot-3 forward, Milleraveraged 17 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.3 steals and 2.0 blockedshots for the state champs. In the Poets' 45-43 state championship victoryover Wicomico, Miller scored 11 points as one of only two Dunbar players indouble digits. Miller scored a team-high 23 points in an 80-73 victory overSouthern in their regular-season meeting with the Bulldogs. Creighton, CoastalCarolina and Western Maryland are among schools that have shown interest inMiller.
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. Thesenior guard averaged 17.9 points - including a team-high 12 in a 45-43victory over Wicomico in the 2A final at Cole Field House - 10.0 assists, 4.0rebounds 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 finalperiod. Minor sprained an ankle with 50 seconds left in the win over FairmontHeights but played on it the next night in the state title game. During theseason, his quickness and savvy enabled him to break down opposing defensesand create scoring opportunities.
Minor scored 20 in Dunbar's 79-73 victory at Southern for the BaltimoreCity title. In the Poets' closest game of the 2A North region, Minor scored 18in 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 asthe Panthers' all-time leading scorer with 1,744 points (second in countypublic school history), a school season record 84 three-pointers, and acounty- 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-yearstarter contributed to three county and two region titles.
This season, Neal led the county in scoring with a 30.1-point average (782total points, second all-time in the county). He also averaged 5.0 reboundsand 4.0 assists. A three-time All-County guard and second-team All-Metro as ajunior, Neal was the only returning starter from last season's 25-1 team. Hisprolific scoring kept Annapolis on top with a second straight undefeatedcounty season.
Neal shot more than 50 percent from the field and 87 percent from thefree-throw line, and scored 40 points or more in a game four times thisseason, including a career-high 46. Neal, who will play on April 7 in theCapital 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 seniorguard signed early with North Carolina. Coming off his All-Metro junior seasonin which he was named the All-City/County Player of the Year, Scott was aSuper 25 pick by USA Today. Scott, whom coach Meredith Smith ranks as one ofSouthern's all-time greatest players, averaged 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.0assists and 4.3 steals.
Scott, who scored more than 1,150 points his final two seasons, had 23 inan 82-79 overtime loss to Lake Clifton in the 4A North region semis. Scottwill 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 CarrollCounty basketball this season upon his transfer from DeMatha early in theseason. Strickland, Carroll County's Player of the Year, led the Cavaliers toa 20-5 season and No. 14 ranking in The Sun's poll by averaging an areaoverall 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 percentat 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 84-72upset of 3A finalist Thomas Johnson and 41 in a 79-72 loss to then-defendingstate champion Paint Branch in the 3A West region semis. Strickland led theCavs of coach Jim Carnes to the Carroll County title and second place in theCentral Maryland Conference.