Every summer Baltimore's best basketball players converge on their old stomping grounds, resurrecting old rivalries on the court and trading war stories on life as a college athlete.
Few Charm City natives earned more bragging rights last season than Kim English, the former Randallstown star who was an integral part of Missouri's 31-7 season.
English, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound shooting guard, had plenty to say this summer about the Tigers' trip to the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight.
"It's kind of like we're all trash-talking, but it's fun seeing where everyone went," English said. "In Baltimore, it's whoever wins gets the most range. So it was me and [Pittsburgh shooting guard] Jermaine Dixon. Everyone else couldn't say too much except for that they're going to do better than us next year. But [former Calvert Hall standout and UMass guard] Ricky Harris beat Kansas, so that was a great feat. Kevin Palmer (Parkville), from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, he scored  on Georgia, so we were talking about that. We were all kind of exchanging stories and just playing like it was old times."The old times were especially good to English. After starting his career at Towson Catholic, English moved on to Randallstown and led the Rams to the Class 2A state championship in 2007. English, a second-team All-Metro selection, scored 17 points in Randallstown's 65-60 win over Fairmont Heights at Comcast Center.
"Winning state was great," English said. "Three in a row for the school and one for me. But they just judge a successful season at Randallstown by who won the state. I was the only one on my Cecil Kirk [AAU] team that won state ... so I had some bragging rights in the matter. Just going to high school like a regular kid, that was fun."
English spent the following season at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., averaging better than 17 points, six rebounds and three assists per game. He earned team MVP honors and picked up scholarship offers from Missouri, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Florida State, Miami, Seton Hall and St. Johns.
Picking the Tigers proved to be a great decision for English. He appeared in all 38 games last season, starting 13 during conference play. English averaged 6.5 points per game and connected on 41 three-pointers -- second all-time for a Missouri freshman behind Kareem Rush. The highlight of English's improbable freshman season came in the second round of the NCAA tournament, when he scored 17 points against Marquette, including two free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining that preserved the win for Missouri.
"I expected us to win a national championship last year," English said. "No one else did, but I always felt like that was just something that's supposed to happen because I've always been on successful, winning teams. So it was kind of like blind ambition. My prep school coach, Ryan Hurd, he told me to cherish this. [He said], 'an Elite Eight doesn't happen every year.' Then it kind of hit me. Thirty-one wins and a Big 12 championship doesn't happen every year. But I kind of just work with the mindset of wanting it to happen every year. So I'm always looking for the greatest season. Always."
English won't be the only Baltimore native gunning for a Big 12 title this year. Former Owings Mills center Andrew Fitzgerald and ex-DeMatha shooting guard Naji Hibbert will be freshmen at Oklahoma and Texas A&M respectively. Paving the way for Baltimore's next generation of college standouts is something English is more than happy to do.
"Whenever I see Josh Selby or Will Barton, I always stop and talk to them," English said. "I don't know if they're looking up to us, but I'm pretty sure as college basketball fans [they respect us]. But we kind of look at them as our younger brothers and [follow them] from a distance. We just see that they have to carry the torch on as Baltimore guys in college the next couple years."
English's summer reunion came to an end about two weeks ago. Goodbyes were said as English returned to Columbia, Mo., and his basketball-playing counterparts went back to their respective schools. Battling Baltimore's basketball royalty this summer has English primed to reclaim bragging rights once again.
"We're back," English said, "and ready for the ascent to the top of the mountain again."
Photo credits: Baltimore Sun (left) and Associated Press