Donte Pretlow

Donte Pretlow (Photo by Steve Ruark / Special to The Baltimore Sun / January 5, 2012)

The level of interest Morgan State had in Donte Pretlow was never in doubt.

For more than a year, members of the Bears coaching staff have seemingly been tracking the Dunbar point guard’s every move.

“They have been involved with him for awhile,” said Poets coach Cyrus Jones. “I would say they came around last year and really took an interest after that. They followed him last summer when he played AAU with Nike Baltimore Elite. It just continued during his senior year.”

Pretlow rewarded Morgan’s loyalty and persistence last week with his commitment. The 5-foot-11 ½, 185-pound senior was also recruited by Bowie State, Florida International and Western Kentucky.

“What stood out to me … [is] that they showed me a lot of support,” Pretlow said. “That was one of the key parts of my decision. Through the whole season, they were there. They kept up and made sure they supported me the whole way through.”

Over the past two seasons scouting Pretlow, the Morgan coaches saw a natural leader at the point who guided the Poets to Class 1A state championships in 2011 and 2012. Jones said Pretlow, who was a backup on Dunbar’s 2010 1A title team, is the consummate team player.

“Ever since he came up to varsity, he’s been winning state championships,” Jones said. “He’s played a valuable role in those titles. He was really the leader out there on the court. … He’s basically a distributor who can score if he needs to. He’s always been the one that looks to pass first and looks to set up his teammates. Like I said, when the opportunity presents itself, he’ll take advantage and score the basketball as well.”

Pretlow, whose Poets (24-3) finished the 2011-12 season as The Baltimore Sun’s No. 1 boys basketball team, averaged around 10 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals. At Morgan, he’ll be expected to continue filling up the stat sheet and serving as a leader.

“They want me to come in and do what I do – play hard, run the team and bring that toughness to the team,” Pretlow said. “They say they like the fact that I’m strong, I’m tough and I can control the team.”

The Bears will have an obvious hole to fill at point guard next season with the graduation of two-year starter Larry Bastfield. Blake Bozeman, a 6-foot-2 lead guard, will be back for his sophomore season. But Pretlow should be a factor in the Bears’ rotation immediately. He joins Columbia native and Montrose Christian forward Cedric Blossom as part of Morgan’s 2012 recruiting class.

Pretlow said the reaction from friends and family to his commitment has been nothing but positive. He’s excited to stay close to home for college, and hopefully carry his winning ways with the Poets over to the Bears.

“I’m dedicated, I’m hard working, I’m a team player and I’m willing to do anything to bring success to my school,” Pretlow said. “[This is] what it’s all about – going to college, getting my degree and playing basketball. Hopefully I can grow up and do something with my life.”