Ten county basketball players, including 1990-1991 Anne Arundel County Sun Player of the Year Rob Wooster of Annapolis, are going to get a unique opportunity for exposure the last weekend in September.
The 6-foot-6 Wooster, who averaged 14.1 points per game for the 4A state finalist Panthers last year, will join nine other county cagers inthe first Charlie Weber Maryland Invitational at Cole Field House, the University of Maryland at College Park, Sept. 27-29.
The 17-and-under tournament involves 12 teams from Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and Virginia which will compete before a host of college scouts and coaches.
Joining Wooster are Annapolis teammates B. J. Gross, Lozonnah Jones and Josh Gannon; Gene Pleyo of Northeast; Scott Brown of Severna Park; Ravon Austin of Old Mill; Ian Taylor of Meade; Jamah Forbes of Glen Burnie and Wes Van Wambeke of Chesapeake.
"I'm hoping the kids we picked throughout the county will benefit from the exposure, because this is an open-period time for college coaches," said Annapolis 14-year veteran coach John Brady, who was last season's Coach of the Year.
Brady was told about the unique tournament by University of Maryland assistant coach Billy Hahn and saw it as a great opportunity for the players.
"There will be a lot of good young players in this tournament, and the college coaches can come out and observe and even come to our practices torate a kid," said Brady.
College basketball coaches are allowed to see a prospect four times in a given year under National CollegiateAthletic Association rules, but in this tournament they could see a prospect play four times with it only counting as one observation.
"They can also come watch us practice, but that counts as one observation each time, but this gives the kids a chance to be seen even before the regular season begins," said Brady, who has 299 career victories and one state title (1990).
As a result of one practice conducted by Brady's team, which is sponsored by Mike Gunther of Gunther's Rolloff Services, St. Bonaventure has set up a home visit with Wooster in Annapolis.
St. Bonny's head coach Tom Chapman will visit Wooster within the next few days. Chapman and his assistant coach Tiny Green are reportedly very impressed with Wooster, and a visit usually indicates a serious scholarship offer.
Wooster is considering several schools, including Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy, and may make his decision before the starting date of high school hoops practice, Nov. 15.
Brady is hoping more opportunities will evolve from organizing this team. The Annapolis coach and his staff of South River assistant Jack Jordan and Jimmy Savage, a former assistant at Loyola High and Cardinal Gibbons in Baltimore, tried to assemble the best available players from around the county.
Some players were unable to play because of age, prior commitments and participation in fall sports such as football and soccer. Nonetheless, Brady and his staff assembled a good team that will open 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at Cole Field House against Prince George's County.
Gross is a 6-foot-7 junior up from the Annapolis junior varsity, along with the 6-1 James. The other Panther on the team, Gannon is a 6-2 senior.
Pleyo is the slick 6-1 senior guard from Northeast who averaged 14.3 points asa junior for the Eagles and was named All-County second team.
Severna Park's Brown, third-team All-County, averaged 17.2 points a gameas a junior. Brown is a 6-4 senior.
Austin, a 6-0 senior at Old Mill, is very quick and has excellent court instincts, while the 6-3 Taylor of Meade can jump and shoot. Taylor is an excellent athlete like his older brother, Lance.
Lance, a member of the Anne Arundel County Sun All-County Academic Athletic Team, graduated from Meade lastyear and is on an academic/athletic scholarship at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Ian, also a baseball player like Lance, started at first base last Sunday for the Arundel Suns against the Oriolelanders in the Anne Arundel County Sun-Oriolelanders Game.
Glen Burnie's Forbes is an impressive 6-7 junior and the type of player college scouts willkeep an eye on because of his size. Chesapeake's Van Wambeke is a 6-4 senior who keeps getting better the more he plays.
"We will go with a run-and-gun offense in order to give the players a chance to show their natural skills," said Brady, who tried "to spread the talentaround and get as much representation from county schools as possible."
The 12 teams playing are guaranteed three games each. Three groups of four teams each will play in a round-robin situation where the three division winners will meet in the finals on Sunday, Sept. 29.
Cole Field House will be home of a horde of college scouts that weekend. It gives county athletes a chance to show how they might compete on the collegiate level by going against outsiders.
"It's going to be interesting to see how we do," said Brady. "But the importantthing is the exposure they will get. This is not only a great opportunity for the kids but the college coaches, who get to see so many top players in one place and have it count as one observation."
Brady was able to put the team together through the generosity of Gunther, a former Andover High athlete, who also sponsors a men's softball team and the Annapolis entry in the outdoor summer basketball league at Truxtun Park.
"When John came to me about sponsoring the team and explained to me the exposure it would get the kids in front of all those college scouts at Maryland, I wanted to help," said Gunther.
Assistant coach Jordan, one of those basketball junkies, coaches theSeahawks in the outdoor league at Truxtun and is a longtime assistant to Kenny Dunn at South River.
The third knowledgeable coach is Savage, whose dad, Jerry, is the well-respected head coach at Loyola High. Jimmy played for his dad, later coached the Dons with him and also worked under Cardinal Gibbons' veteran coach Ray Mullis, who developed Quintin Dailey.
Some of the teams may be Amateur Athletic Union-sanctioned, while others like Brady's are simply amateur teams. None of the teams are school-affiliated, which would be an NCAA violation.
Admission to the games will be $3, and the coordinators of theevent are hoping to break even after meeting expenses for insurance,officials and the rental of Cole Field House.
One other noteon Brady. The Annapolis coach is very proud that all nine of his graduating seniors from last year's Panther squad are in college.
County scoring leader Dennis Edwards, who averaged 27.1 points a game, received a full scholarship to Alvin Community College in Texas. Edwards was All-County.
Second-team All-County forward, Delmore Howard,who averaged 15.7 points a game, will play at Division III power Kean College in New Jersey, fifth-ranked in the country, and guard Gerard Hyman is expected to play at Anne Arundel Community College.
Kurt Wahlstrom will attempt to make AACC as a walk-on, and 6-9 Jonathan Holden is at Virginia Tech.
Not playing basketball, but in collegeto play other sports are lacrosse player Chad Clay at the Universityof Notre Dame; and football players Carlos Evans at Howard University and Ahmed Middleton at Fork Union Military Academy, Va.