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There's not much Herman Harried hasn't seen or experienced in his lifetime of basketball.

The longtime Lake Clifton coach was a member of Dunbar's 1983 national championship team. He then moved on to Syracuse, helping the Orangemen to four NCAA tournament berths, including a runner-up finish to Indiana in 1987. After graduation, Harried took his game overseas for five years, including three seasons with the now-defunct Worthing Bears in England, where he remains the franchise's all-time leader in points and rebounds per game. He's also coached for USA basketball, including the 2006 junior squad at the Nike Hoop Summit.

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But while Harried has done it all, the 2008-09 season at Lake Clifton will always hold a special place in his heart. The Lakers finished 28-0, winning the Class 3A state title and the Baltimore City championship. Among Lake Clifton's victims this year were the Baltimore Catholic League and MIAA A conference champs (St. Frances), the Class 2A winners (City) and the Class 1A titleholders (Digital Harbor).

Lake Clifton's loaded title team

"I knew that the talent was there," Harried said. "The key was them buying into the same goal, and you don't get an idea of that until the season starts. Once we got into a couple of games, they were on point for the same cause."

Lake Clifton's cause was buoyed by the preseason additions of shooting guard Will Barton, a five-star prospect, and younger brother Antonio Barton, a three-star combo guard. The junior transfers from National Christian Academy in Fort Washington lived up to their reputations, according to Harried.

"I was impressed with [Will's] personality," Harried said. "He's not an arrogant young man. He doesn't get wrapped up in himself. ... He came in with a pleasant attitude. [His attitude was] 'What can I do to help us,' not 'what can I do to help me.' If you watched us play, you saw that."

Barton led the Lakers in scoring at 18 points per game. He also averaged 10 rebounds and four assists on the year. Maryland, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Marquette, Miami, South Florida and several other high-major programs have offered.

Barton, 6-6, was originally a member of the 2009 class, having spent his first two years of high school at City followed by a one-year stint at National Christian Academy. He reclassified to 2010 at NCA. Because of the reclassification, Barton will have to spend his senior season at prep school, per NCAA rules. There's been no decision yet on where he will go.

Antonio Barton, who's about 11 months younger than Will, will be back at Lake Clifton next season. The 6-foot-2 player averaged around 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds per game. Harried said after this summer "he'll be recruited by every major" school in the country. He's already hearing from Maryland, Miami, Seton Hall, Temple and Virginia, according to NBE Basketball Report.

Senior power forward Cleveland Melvin emerged for the Lakers as a dominant defensive player and a more than capable scorer. Melvin, 6-8, averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks per game.

The Lakers' other key senior returner was 5-11 point guard Jason Sharp. Harried said the mid-major prospect brought shooting and leadership to the Lakers, averaging 14 points, four assists and two rebounds per game.

Melvin and Sharp are ticketed for prep school, although both are still exploring potential locations. Harried said Melvin and Sharp made the Bartons' transition to Lake Clifton seamless.

"They were extremely crucial because with the Bartons coming in, [Jason and Cleveland] had been around me for years," Harried said. "I think they made the Bartons' transition much easier [because of their leadership] and showing how to get things done. They led by example with their work ethic."

Rounding out the Lakers' quintet of future Div. I players was junior center Karee Watson, who averaged six points, seven rebounds and one block per game.

"He's about 6-8 and he's a true center," Harried said. "I think once this summer's over, he'll be highly recruited by the major schools."

Next year the Lakers will count on bigger contributions from Watson and Antonio Barton. The goal for Lake Clifton will be a repeat, but Harried knows that's a lot to ask.

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"I'm not going to get into that," Harried said. "But last year, people forget we went 25-2 and lost some key players (including Miami-bound Antoine Allen and Darrius Gilmore). I'm not really big into estimates. I'm only into what's concrete. But we'll see what happens."

Baltimore Sun photo of Herman Harried and the 2008-09 Lake Clifton boys basketball team by Kim Hairston / March 14, 2009

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