COACH OF THE YEAR
John Nash, Douglass -- No one could ignore what John Nash did at Douglass this season.
Struggling and an afterthought at 1-6, the Ducks (13-10) came within three points of winning the state 3A championship.
In the state 3A tournament the previous season, Douglass had to forfeit a 59-57 regional quarterfinal victory over Centennial because it had used an ineligible player.
With only two players returning this season, a repeat trip to the state tournament wasn't expected. In their season opener, the Ducks were manhandled in a 109-46 loss to Dunbar at the Tip-Off Mixer at Lake Clifton.
The Ducks had to win their final regular-season game to qualify for the playoffs. They did, receiving the fifth seed in the East Region. Douglass defeated Northern, Broadneck, Poly -- all on the road -- and Randallstown (at College Park) to reach the state 3A title game, where it lost to DuVal of Prince George's County, 60-58.
"I take what I get and try to do the best with it," Nash said.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR Kevin Simpson, Southern-B, 6-5, Sr., G -- Simpson had a terrific summer, during which he was named the outstanding player of two summer leagues and the LA Gear Slam-N-Jam Invitational, then followed with a tremendous winter for the nation's No. 2 squad.
A two-time all-Metro selection and the Baltimore City/County Player of the Year, Simpson emerged as the area's most versatile player, averaging 21.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists.
At the First National Bank Charm City Classic at Loyola College, Simpson scored 21 points, out-dueling Felipe Lopez, the country's No. 1 player, in a 66-58 victory over Rice (N.Y.), knocking that school out of the nation's No. 1 ranking.
The previous night, Simpson set a Charm City Classic record with 34 points against Simon Gratz of Philadelphia, one of the nation's top defensive units. He was named outstanding player for the Southeast bracket.
At the state 4A Final Four at Cole Field House last weekend, he scored 42 points in two games, helping the Bulldogs to their second consecutive state championship.
Several major colleges, including Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Temple, George Washington and Oklahoma, are recruiting Simpson. Simpson, who hasn't obtained the necessary score of 700 on the Scholastic Assessment Test, will participate in the Capital Classic All-Star Game on April 7 at Cole Field House and the Magic Johnson Roundball Classic on April 10 in Auburn Hills, Mich.
OTHERS ON THE FIRST TEAM Guy Butler, Woodlawn, 6-7, Jr., F -- Butler's quiet demeanor didn't hide his abilities on the court for the Warriors. With Donte Dudley, last season's Baltimore County Player of the Year, down for almost the entire season with a knee injury, Butler filled the void and then some, averaging 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds for the state 4A North Regional semifinalists. Butler, MVP of the Wes Unseld Tournament in December, was difficult to guard in the paint and could handle the ball and score from the perimeter.
Damon Cason, Southern-B, 6-2, Sr., G -- With slick ball-handling and long-range shooting, Cason developed into one of the area's best point guards. A three-time All-Metro first-team pick, Cason averaged 18.0 points and 9.9 assists for the area's No. 1 squad. George Washington, Southern Cal, Northeastern, Georgetown and Boston College head the list of schools that are interested in him.
Haywood Eaddy, Southwestern, 5-8, Sr., G -- Eaddy overcame an ankle injury to lead Southwestern to the the state 4A North Region championship game. He was also a key as the Sabers handed Southern-B, the area's No. 1 and country's No. 2 team, its only defeat. Eaddy averaged 19.9 points, 9.0 assists and 3.4 steals for the Sabers. Georgetown, Providence, UMES and Slippery Rock (Pa.) are recruiting him.
TH Rodney Elliott, Dunbar, 6-8, Sr., F -- As quarterback for the Poets'
football team, Elliott was the leader and he did the same for the basketball team. Elliott developed into a solid all-around forward, averaging 12.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists for the Poets, who are currently ranked No. 11 in the USA Today's Super 25. Wisconsin, Maryland, Kansas and North Carolina State are pursuing him.
Chatney Howard, Southern-AA, 6-3, Sr., F -- Howard developed into the area's most versatile players. A repeat pick on the first-team All-Metro as well as the Anne Arundel County Player of the Year, Howard led the area in scoring at 26.4 points and also averaged 8.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.0 steals. In three seasons, he compiled 1,582 points, second most in county history.
Norman Nolan, Dunbar, 6-8, Sr., C -- Nolan, who has signed with Virginia, averaged 17.4 points and 10.6 rebounds for Dunbar, which claimed the state 2A title and his third overall. He won a 1A title in 1992 with Milford Mill and a 1A title in 1993 with Dunbar. Nolan was third-team selection on the Parade All-American team, he will participate in the McDonald's All-American game on April 3 and the Capital Classic on April 7.
Shawnta Rogers, Lake Clifton, 5-5, Jr., G -- Rogers is a repeat selection on the All-Metro first team. He led the Lakers in scoring (20.4), assists (9.1) and steals (4.3) and was second in rebounding (6.2). The first Lake Clifton player to eclipse 1,000 points, Rogers used quickness to become a tremendous scorer as well as a solid defender.
Jason Smith, Broadneck, 6-2, Jr., G -- One of the area's top athletes, Smith was a first-team All-Metro wide receiver in football. During the basketball season, he was the go-to man for the Bruins. Solid in all aspects, he was the leader in all the major categories -- points (18.7), rebounds (5.4), assists (3.9) and steals (2.0). Smith has the school record for points (1,162) and steals (131).
Steve Wojciechowski, Gibbons, 5-11, Sr., G -- Wojciechowski, who signed early with Duke, averaged 19.1 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 steals and 4.0 rebounds as Gibbons won the Catholic League regular-season and tournament titles. He was the league's outstanding player during the regular season and the MVP of the tournament. He will participate in the McDonald's All-American game on April 3 and the Capital Classic on April 7.
PICKING THE TEAMS
The Baltimore Sun All-Metro boys basketball team was selected by Derek Toney. The girls team was selected by Kevin Eck. Both consulted with staff and area coaches.