Every high school basketball coach dreams of going to school one dayand learning that a 6-foot, 10-inch all-star-quality player has transferred in.
It's a rare situation. But it happened at Hammond Highin 1982 when Terry and Perry Dozier, nicknamed the Twin Towers, transferred there and brought the Bears their only state title (1983) andonly two county titles in 1982 and 1983.
This season brings no 6-10 transfers, but there are an unprecedented 11 transfers in the county, seven of them good enough to start.
Seven of the eight county teams have at least one transfer: Wilde Lake tops the list with three transfers and one exchange student; Oakland Mills has two transfers, both starters; and Mount Hebron, Hammond, Howard, Centennial and Atholton each have one transfer.
The highnumber of transfers, however, may be one reason the county as a whole is off to such a slow start. Only 3 teams -- Glenelg, Centennial and Mount Hebron -- are having winning seasons. Glenelg is the only team with no transfers.
As welcome as the new talents are, they present certain problems for coaches.
Most must learn new systems, adjust to different coaching styles, learn to blend in with new teammatesand occasionally, as in the case of two transfers from foreign countries, adapt to an entirely different culture.
That's asking a lot of a 17-year-old, and during the adjustment period a team's overall quality of play may suffer.
Take Oakland Mills, for instance. Senior 5-foot-7 guard John Hilliard transferred from Meade High in Anne Arundel County, and 6-2 senior guard Mike Phillips transferred from Mark of Excellence in Baltimore.
This is the third high school for each.
Oakland Mills is touted as the team to beat in the county thisyear, but has been slow to achieve its promise, posting a 4-4 record. Part of that is due to the adjustment the new players must make.
"You have to sort of strip away what they knew before and re-teach them the way you want things done," Scorpions Coach Dave Appleby said.
Hilliard and Phillips both said that the hardest adjustment for them has been to their new coach.
"He's harder, more of a disciplinarian than I ever had before," Hilliard said, who averaged 18 points at Meade and is averaging 16 this year.
Early in the season duringa game against Frederick County rival Thomas Johnson, Hilliard scored 29 in the second half to spark a comeback win, hitting six three-point shots.
Phillips began his season late -- Dec. 13 -- because ofacademic ineligibility, but once he did he was a starter.
"But that didn't last because I wasn't doing all the things coach wanted me to do," Phillips said. "Now I'm back to starting again."
He's onlyscoring six points per game after averaging 21 last year. But he said he has been concentrating on getting the ball to other players.
"I will start scoring more, but this is a new team that's still not used to each other," he said.
David Morris, a 6-2 senior guard for Atholton, has had problems adjusting to some of his new teammates andto a more complicated system. Last season he played at Northern in Baltimore City and averaged 11 points.
"I still don't know coach (Jim) Albert's coaching technique, but I'm asking a lot of questions and trying to learn," Morris said.
Morris is an emotional player who's been helped in his adjustment by teammate Shane Flynn, a senior forward who transferred last season from Pallotti.
"I know what he (Morris) is going through because I experienced it a year ago," Flynn said.
Chris Keary, a 5-10 senior guard from Tennessee, has been slow getting started for Howard. He was forced to sit out last season because of Tennessee transfer rules, so he's been a bit rusty.
"I've lost 10 pounds since the beginning of the season and have worked into shape, but I'm not scoring like I hoped to," Keary said. As a 13-year-old in Arkansas he started for a state champion AAU team. That team finished fourth in the nation.
Howard is Keary's fourth school in four years.
"It's tough adjusting, but coach (Rich) Jenkins is a good coach and we have a good team. We're just not clicking yet."
Masai Demus, a 6-1 senior guard from Alabama, has started and sparkled defensively for Mount Hebron, which has new coach Scott Robinson and no returning starters.
Despite those handicaps, Mount Hebron has won four of its first seven games, including an upset over Linganore.
Seann Jones of Centennial, a 6-0 sophomore guard, has encountered a problem many transfers face. He has two senior guards ahead of him who played for Centennial before. A coach is naturally loyal to players he already knows.
Jones transferred from Ohio, but his superior talent will probably win out.
"I think he'll be starting regularly before the county season is over," coach Jim Hill said. Centennial won five of its first seven games.
At Wilde Lake, senior 5-10 guard Andre Martin brought with him a 12-point scoring average from Bishop McNamara of Washington.
He's missed several games because he's also a football star and has been visiting prospective colleges asa recruit in that sport.
"It's hard adjusting to all the new players, but we're going to get it together," Martin said. Wilde Lake hasstruggled to a 2-3 record.
For Wilde Lake sub Gantry Lewis, a senior guard, playing time has been limited to about five minutes per game even though he was a starter in Germany.
"It's hard breaking inbecause the coaches don't really know what you can do," he said. "The teams in Germany were better than the teams I've seen here so far."
Lewis said his toughest adjustment has been cultural. He grew up on highly structured military bases and the newfound freedom is distracting.
For French exchange student Jean-Philippe Traore, playing time has also been limited to about five minutes. The 6-3 senior forward, finds some basic differences in the way the game is played.
"Over there you play two 20-minute halves instead of four eight-minutequarters, and you have one guard, two forwards and two centers instead of two guards, two forwards and one center," he said.
The otherWilde Lake transfer is senior guard Jason Duckett from Atlanta., Ga.Hammond High also has one transfer, junior guard Cinque Crutchfield from Kansas.