Terry Maczko didn't have to travel far to assemble his 2009-10 team.
The Baltimore City Community College coach put together a squad this season built primarily on local players, plus a couple of Philadelphia standouts. The results speak for themselves.
"We went 13-3 in the last 16 games ... and finished 18-12 overall," Maczko said. "We made a nice run in the Maryland JUCO tournament. We beat Southern Maryland, then knocked off Cecil in the quarterfinals, and then beat Frederick. We ended up winning the title. In the championship game, we beat Germantown out of Montgomery County."
The Panthers, who claimed their first conference title since 1998, were runners-up to Cecil in the region tournament. Maczko credits "a couple really good sophomores" and a loaded freshmen class for BCCC's success.
John Williams, a former Mervo standout, was a third team preseason National Junior College Athletic Association All-American. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound forward averaged 14.5 points and 10.5 rebounds this season, earning all-conference and all-region honors."Williams has to go Division II because his clock burned out," Maczko said. "You only have five years to play four. He would only have one year at the DI level. But he's gotten interest from Virginia State, Wilmington (Del.), Gannon (Pa.), California (Pa.), Fairmount St. (W.Va.), St. Thomas in Florida -- a bunch of DIIs."
Maczko's other veteran leader, combo guard C.J. Townes, was an all-state cornerback for the Joppatowne football team. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound sophomore is now being recruited by California (Pa.), Gannon (Pa.) and Shaw (N.C.) -- all DII programs. Former Patterson guard Trevor Howze, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, will be a Division III player at the next level.
A few members of BCCC's highly touted freshmen class could have Division I futures. Former John Carroll forward Wyatt Smith came close to achieving that status straight out of high school.
"His father has been my assistant for 17 years," Maczko said. "Wyatt came in, and he was a good player at John Carroll. Tennessee-Chattanooga offered him coming out of high school and Rhode Island was on him. He's a guy that missed the first seven or eight games with a strained ligament in the arch of his foot. It hobbled him a little bit, but he had a fairly decent year."
Two years ago, Byron Westmoreland was a Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection. After spending a redshirt season at Pitt-Johnstown, Westmoreland stepped in to the Panthers' lineup and became one of their top players.
"To be honest with you, I was personally surprised he was at a Division II school," Maczko said. "I looked at him coming out of high school. Every indication was that he would be going to some Division I school somewhere. Last summer, he came knocking at my door. He ended up coming back to us on the rebound. Once everybody found out that he was back in the mix here, MEAC schools, America East schools and the Northeast Conference schools started giving him some interest."
Maczko said the 6-foot-3 Westmoreland, who averaged 18 points this year, has drawn interest from Morgan State, UMES and UMBC.
Carlos Smith, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward from Forest Park, is another local Panther with DI potential. Smith was second in the country in blocks per game at 4.6.
"MEAC and America East [schools] are interested, but nobody special at this point," Maczko said. "They're all interested, but nobody's on him hard, I would say. He was actually a little bit of a sleeper -- a late bloomer coming out of Forest Park. He's an unbelievable athlete. Coming out of high school he went to Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep. He came back and matured quite a bit. He has really worked hard and just keeps getting better. He's got high Division I athletic capabilities. He's going to be pretty good. He probably has the most potential out of all of them."