Keith Booth's message to former Dunbar teammate Norman Nolan: The comparisons are bound to happen.
"It's part of the Dunbar tradition. People are going to want to know if he's as good as Michael Lloyd, or Donta Bright, or me. And they'll question his ability," said Booth, Dunbar's former 6-foot-7, 210-pound swingman who is headed for the University of Maryland.
"And there'll be a lot of recruiting pressure," said Booth, An All-American and The Baltimore Sun's 1992-93 All-Metro Player of the Year. "Of course, he knows how much we're interested in him at Maryland."
Nolan, a 6-8 center, is projected as the area's premier player for the 1993-94 season. He says UNLV, Providence, Seton Hall, Michigan, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Xavier, Syracuse, Villanova, Maryland, California and Virginia Commonwealth are the schools he is considering "in no particular order."
The two-time All-Metro selection said he has been contacted the most by Providence, UNLV, Georgia Tech, Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall and Maryland.
Nolan already has leaped one hurdle by passing the American College Test with an 18, which along with a 2.0 grade point average during his year in high school will make him eligible under NCAA rules at a Division I college his first season. Booth did not score the minimum required in the Scholastic Aptitude Test until the spring of his senior season.
"The advice I'd have for Norman is to just concentrate on the books, and just play his game," said Booth. "Of course, I'll come back and get on him a little, but I think Norman's a level-headed guy who can handle the pressure."
Nolan began handling similar pressure before he stepped onto the court at Dunbar. Following his transfer from Milford Mill High in Baltimore County, questions arose about the two-time All-Metro selection's move to a city program.
Dunbar coach Pete Pompey expects Booth's senior season recruiting experiences to help lighten Nolan's load just as his adjustment to the Dunbar program was made easier by Booth's leadership.
"It's got to, and I think Norman's intelligent enough to turn it into an enjoyable process," Pompey said. "We've talked in terms of what time table he'd like to set for signing. Some recruiters may want him to sign quickly, telling him he'll play right away. But we've discussed remaining open-minded and asking the right questions."
Nolan answered a lot of questions at the Five Star Pitt III basketball camp in Pittsburgh earlier this month, earning Most Valuable Player honors. His effort rivaled that of the previous summer at Honesdale II (Pa.) camp, where Nolan scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Orange White All-Star game.
The Basketball Times magazine, a scouting publication for college recruiters and coaches, has listed Nolan on its fifth team for the Class of 1994, saying Nolan "has the potential to rank among the nation's top five or 10 in the class."
However, the magazine labeled Nolan's efforts "often lackadaisical," an unfair assessment, Nolan says.
"I was kind of tired at Five Star because I'd only had one day of rest after coming from the Nike camp," said Nolan, who weighs 220 pounds.
Nolan helped the Poets to the Class 1A state title last winter, a year after leading Milford Mill to the same title. He ranked second in scoring at Dunbar with 18.1 points.
Nolan has added 15 pounds from lifting weights. The added bulk helped Nolan at Five Star against players such as 6-9 Andre Patterson of Abeline, Texas, and 6-10 Jahidi White of St. Louis -- members of The Basketball Times' first and fourth teams, respectively.
"I feel I held my own," said Nolan. "I've improved my outside game, but you can always improve your shooting consistency. And I need to work on my ball-handling a little."
"Norman can do the things individually that you need to win a game, but we're not looking for that from him this year," said Pompey. "We have a lot of seniors who can help by committee, and I think Norman's leadership will be more by example."