Twenty-one basketball players from the Baltimore area begin Division I college careers this month – including 11 at high-major schools – while another five local players in the 2011 class are set to sign national letters of intent either this week or next.
For a closer look at 10 of the city's freshmen, check out this story from Sun intern Mike Miller. Here's a list of all 21 players.
|Name||Local high school||College|
|Eric Atkins||Mount St. Joseph||Notre Dame|
|Antonio Barton||Lake Clifton||Memphis|
|Will Barton||Lake Clifton||Memphis|
|Ryley Beaumont||Mount St. Joseph||Elon|
|Dylon Cormier||Cardinal Gibbons||Loyola|
|Anthony Goode||Milford Mill||St. Francis (Pa.)|
|Jonathan Graham||Calvert Hall||Penn State|
|Justin Jackson||Digital Harbor||Morgan State|
|Cleveland Melvin||Lake Clifton||DePaul|
|Levi Noel||Towson Catholic||Eastern Illinois|
|Josh Selby||Lake Clifton||Kansas|
|Wayne Sparrow||St. Frances||Richmond|
|Brandon Young||Friendship Collegiate (D.C.)||DePaul|
So how does Baltimore's 2011 class stack up with the 2010 group? During the fall period, which begins Wednesday, five local players are expected to sign letters of intent. Nick Faust, the No. 37 senior in the country according to ESPN.com, will sign with Maryland on Monday during a ceremony at City. St. Frances' Greg Lewis, ESPN.com's 14th-ranked center for the 2011 class, will sign with Rutgers. Former Lake Clifton wing Durand Johnson, a three-star prospect who's spending a post-grad year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy, is headed to Pittsburgh. As it stands now, those are Baltimore's only high-major players for the 2011 class.Other local players expected to sign during the fall are John Carroll point guard Malcolm McMillan (Central Connecticut State) and Milford Mill guard Isaiah McCray, who committed to Colgate over the weekend. McMillan and McCray both starred for Crusader Nation on the spring and summer circuit. Former Calvert Hall forward Donya Jackson, meanwhile, is spending a fifth year at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. He remains committed to Navy and will head to Annapolis for his plebe year this summer.
While those six players have their respective college plans set, there's plenty of talent in the city that will likely remain on the market until the spring signing period. The city's group of senior point guards is particularly noteworthy.
Former St. Frances standout Sam Cassell Jr. leads the way as the nation's No. 53 senior point guard, according to ESPN.com's rankings. Cassell – who played with Nike Baltimore Elite over the summer – is spending his senior year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., and seems poised to end up at a mid-major-plus program. Checking in at No. 97 in ESPN's rankings is Digital Harbor's Kevin Smith, a member of the Baltimore Assault AAU program. Smith was a prolific scorer for his first two years of high school at Baltimore Freedom Academy. He spent his junior season at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep before returning to Baltimore for his senior year. At No. 139 in ESPN's point guard rankings is St. Frances' R.J. Williams, another Nike Baltimore Elite player.
At the shooting guard position, ESPN ranks City's Mike Cheatham at No. 124 and St. Frances' Eddie Tarver at No. 245. Cheatham, a defensive stopper who helped the Knights to the Class 2A state championship last spring, always drew the toughest assignment for Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit. Tarver has been a valuable rotation player for the Panthers. He got his first true exposure on the circuit over the summer with Baltimore Assault. Aberdeen's Gerrae Williams and Old Mill's Eric Savage also bear watching.
Several local forwards and centers also have potential Division I futures. A hamstring injury sidelined Friends forward Jon Schmidt for most of his summer with Nike Baltimore Elite, but the 6-foot-7 senior seems primed to end up at an Ivy League school. Mount St. Joseph center Trey Clinton reportedly fared well with Crusader Nation on the circuit, while St. Frances' Josh Forney, who played for Baltimore Assault, has also drawn DI interest. Milford Mill forward Tevin Hanner is an athletic small forward who's had a good deal of contact with mid-major schools. Oakland Mills forward Greg Whittington might have the highest ceiling of any uncommitted Baltimore-area senior. The 6-foot-8 forward led HCYP Elite to a third-place finish at AAU nationals in Orlando. Clemson, Georgia Tech, Maryland and several others inquired about Whittington after that performance. City's Rashaun Rasheed and Parkville's James Milton are also on the Division I radar.
A host of former area players with Division I potential are spending this year in prep school.
• Dante Holmes (St. Frances) committed to Marshall last spring, but the 6-foot-3 wing is currently playing for Oldsmar Christian Academy in Florida.
• Damion Lee, a former Towson signee and Calvert Hall standout, is attending St. Thomas More, a post-grad basketball powerhouse in Connecticut. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard spent time with D.C. Assault over the summer.
• Keron DeShields, a 6-foot-2 guard who starred for Pallotti after getting his start at Towson Catholic, is playing for Vermont Academy.
• Kanu Aja (Cardinal Gibbons) is at The Robinson School in New Jersey. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound center already has Division I offers, including those from UMES, Quinnipiac, Mount St. Mary's and Morehead State.
• Corey Spence, who led Dunbar to the Class 1A state championship last spring, is playing for Bridgton Academy in Maine.
• Power forward Lamont Huggins (Douglass) is at Southern Carolina Prep Academy in North Carolina. Huggins played for Baltimore Assault on the circuit.
• Finally, three Cecil Kirk products are also doing post-grad years. Brent Arrington, a 6-foot-2 point guard from Lansdowne and Jeff Fields, a 6-foot-4 wing from Lake Clifton, are both spending a post-grad year at Mississippi Elite Christian Academy. Montray Clemons, a 6-foot-7 forward from Poly, plays for Mack Academy in Charlotte.