Around Coppin State College, they call him "Smooth."
Sure, students are referring to the way Allen Watson, a guard on the school's winning basketball team, handles the ball during games. But they're also referring to the way he dresses.
The silk shirts, leather boots and Pierre Cardin suits are all part of what makes this 19-year-old's dorm closet a must-see.
These days, though, he's concentrating more on the basketball court than his closet. With the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament starting in Baltimore today, he's preparing for Coppin's first game tomorrow. And once the game begins, the sport comes first.
"On the court, I'm not trying to look good," he says. "I'm trying to play good."
What will you wear to the tournament?
A beige linen suit with a tan checked shirt and a brown leather belt. It's kind of my spring look. Linen and neutrals are in for spring. I want to be the first to break them in.
How's your style different off the court?
Some days I may be sporty with a Reebok or Fila sweat suit and sneakers. Some days I may wear a tie. And some days I'll wear a jeans outfit with boots. That's my modern-day cowboy look.
Are you superstitious about your clothing?
Not really. But if I play good in a pair of socks, I keep wearing them until my luck runs out. So far, I wore this one Fila pair for six games. I washed them in between.
What's your biggest mishap?
I'm 5 foot 9, which makes me the shortest guy on the team. I had a pair of shorts that were real big. During a game earlier this season, I tried to dribble between my legs and the ball got caught in my shorts. I couldn't believe it. I thought I was a great ball handler. I wear a smaller size now.
Are you as competitive in your attire as you are at basketball?
Yes. I go out and play hard. Once I step off the court, I try to look the best I can.
Among teens, has dressing well gotten out of hand?
Most people are getting carried away, especially with the designer names and the sneakers. Altogether I have about 10 pairs of sneakers: Reebok, Fila and Nike. But I don't think that everything has to be expensive. I'll buy cheaper shirts and splurge on pants, vests and shoes.
How did you learn to dress the way you do?
By watching TV and going to movies. I like Wesley Snipes for casual wear that's really coordinated and Martin Lawrence of "Martin" for street clothes.
Where do you shop?
Macy's, Structure and Cignal.
Who would you call America's best-dressed athlete?
Michael Jordan. He has the body for suits, and he has great taste. What's the toughest thing about dressing well for you?
Not having much money.
What would you change about the way you dress if you could?
I'd own more suits and ties, but my budget doesn't allow that.
If you win the tournament, what will you wear to celebrate?
My family and I will go out to dinner, so I'll get dressed up. I'll probably wear a cream shirt with a suede and silk vest, a tie and Levi dockers. I always feel like I'm a success in life in that outfit.
Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.