Villanova men's basketball coach Jay Wright has seen the pride that one of his top recruits, Mount St. Joseph star Phil Booth, shows when it comes to playing basketball in the Baltimore Catholic League.
"Phil knows it's not about him, it's about Mount St. Joseph and it's about the BCL," said Wright, the keynote speaker at the BCL Hall of Fame ceremony at Rolling Road Golf Club in Catonsville. "That's the message — cherish that and never forget where you came from."
Eight former BCL standouts won't soon forget after being honored as the newest members of the league's Hall of Fame on Thursday, a group that included former Maryland star and current assistant coach Juan Dixon.
Dixon was one of eight former BCL standouts honored, including Morris Cannon (Loyola, 1972), Carl Fornoff (Archbishop Curley, 1979), Adrian Hubbard (Towson Catholic, 1975), Sam McGee (St. Frances, 1990), Gene Nieberlein Jr., (Mount St. Joseph, 1976), Mark Rohde (Loyola, 1972) and Rob Valderas (Cardinal Gibbons, 1975).
Mount St. Joseph 1966 grad Danny Witt, an honorary inductee, also was recognized along with St. Maria Goretti coach Cokey Robertson.
It was 20 years ago when former Calvert Hall coach Mark Amatucci knocked on Dixon's door and gave him the opportunity to become a Cardinal. After scoring 1,590 points in three seasons Dixon, 35, went on to lead Maryland to its first and only NCAA National Championship in 2002 and enjoyed a fine nine-year career in the NBA.
The former first-round draft pick of the Washington Wizards was proud and humble to be part of the BCL Hall of Fame Class of 2014. His college coach, Maryland great Gary Williams was present.
"It's an unbelievable honor," said Dixon, who lost both parents before he turned 17 years old. "It was a day in August when coach Mark Amatucci came to my front door and said that he wanted me to come to Calvert Hall. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to go to a prestigious high school and learn a lot, which I did.
"It helped prepare me for life and, most importantly, it gave me an opportunity to play basketball, which is something I loved. I played in a prestigious basketball league and I'm very humble and grateful for the opportunity."
Said Amatucci: "Juan overcame so much with his passion and dedication. He was so driven and motivated to succeed and because of that, he is where he is today. I think it speaks for itself, what he accomplished."
Here's a closer look at the BCL Hall of Fame Class of 2014:
Morris Cannon, ’72 Loyola: Led the Dons to the BCL championship in his senior season, averaging a team-high 16.9 points to go with 8.2 rebounds. In his two years on varsity, scored 724 points before moving on to play at Loyola College.
Juan Dixon, ’97 Calvert Hall: In three varsity seasons, finished with 1,590 career points for the Cardinals. Went on to lead Maryland to its first NCAA championship in 2002 and enjoyed a nine-year NBA career after being drafted by the Washington Wizards in the first round.
Carl Fornoff, ’79 Archbishop Curley: Averaged 15 points and nine rebounds as a senior captain to cap a two-year career as a starting forward for the Friars. In his four-year career at Washington College, started in 95 straight games, which remains a program record.
Adrian Hubbard, ’75 Towson Catholic: Three-year starter averaged a double-double (16 points, 14 rebounds) in his senior year for the Owls. Went on to play college ball at St. Joseph’s.
Sam McGee, ’90 St. Frances: Key member of the Panthers’ BCL championship team in 1989-90. Went on to enjoy a fine four-year career at Bloomfield College where he scored 1,710 points and was inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
Gene Nieberlein Jr., ’76 Mount St. Joseph: Three-year letterman averaged 17 points and 14 rebounds in his fine senior year and was named to the All-BCL first team. Went to Indiana University to play football before transferring to Rutgers to play basketball.
Mark Rohde, ’72 Loyola: All-around talent at 6-foot-7, finished three-year career with 859 points (10.7 per game), 705 rebounds and 168 assists for the Dons, who captured the BCL crown in his senior year. Joined teammate Morris Cannon at Loyola College.
Rob Valderas, ’75 Cardinal Gibbons: Three-year starter led Cardinals to first BCL title in 1973-74 season, finishing his career with 1,239 points and 794 rebounds. Continued playing at St. Joseph’s and also represented Puerto Rico in 1979 and 1983 Pan American Games.
Robert “Cokey” Robertson, St. Maria Goretti: Finished with a 698-449 record in 34 seasons at St. Maria Goretti, winning four BCL titles before retiring in 2008. Began his coaching career at Westminster in 1960, moved on to Thomas Johnson and won 780 games.
Danny Witt, ’66 Mount St. Joseph: Scored over 1,600 point in his four-year career and was named a Naismith High School All-American as a senior. Enjoyed a fine college career at High Point and was named the Carolina Conference Most Valuable Player as a senior.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun