Rogers, Marbury jazz up Charm City confrontation

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Each has been compared to a playground legend in his city. Both have received local as well as national media attention.

For Shawnta Rogers of Lake Clifton and Stephon Marbury of Lincoln High of Brooklyn, N.Y., another page to their careers will be added tonight when their teams meet at 8:45 p.m. in the first round of the Southeast bracket of the First National Bank Charm City Classic at Loyola College's Reitz Arena.

"It's going to be a lot of hype," said Rogers, whose team is ranked No. 12 in the nation by USA Today. "There's no pressure. He's a good player and can do it all."

Marbury, 6 feet 1, is the consensus No. 1 guard in the nation and perhaps the country's top player. He has been compared to Kenny Anderson, who starred at Archbishop Molloy High in Queens, N.Y.

Next fall, he will be a freshman at Georgia Tech -- the same college Anderson attended before turning pro -- where Marbury will succeed senior Travis Best as point guard.

In high school, Anderson was deft at driving to the basket and penetrating. Marbury is a better perimeter player. Anderson was a true point guard, looking to involve teammates in the offense. Marbury looks to score as well as pass.

"He's a tremendous shooter as far as his range," said Dunbar coach Paul Smith, whose team survived a 43-point performance by Marbury for a regular-season win last year. "We picked him up outside of the three-point mark, and he still came down and fired 27- and 28-footers. He sees the floor real well."

When Rogers, 5-4, first stepped on the court four seasons ago, comparisons to former Dunbar star Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, who's 5-3, immediately began. Both are small but have a large presence on the court.

Bogues was the floor general on Dunbar's 1983 national championship team. Rogers is more of a scorer, evident by his 25.8-point average.

"Muggsy was the most intimidating player I've ever faced," said St. John's Prospect Hall coach Stu Vetter, who coached against Bogues while at Flint Hill Prep. "He was so confident. Shawnta doesn't have that quality, but he's a better shooter and certainly will be an outstanding player at the college level."

Bogues was surrounded by talented offensive players at Dunbar. Rogers is on a team that also has talented offensive players, but he has the ability to take over a game with his outside shooting and passing.

Rogers, the area's top college prospect, has been featured in numerous basketball magazines. Earlier this week, NBC's "NBA Inside Stuff" visited Lake Clifton to interview Rogers, who is being recruited by Clemson, Dayton, Maryland, Wake Forest and Xavier.

When Marbury announced his decision to attend Georgia Tech over Syracuse and UCLA in front of dozens of reporters, $H photographers and cameras, ESPN cut into its coverage of a game between Temple and Marquette to report his decision.

Marbury has attracted attention from Paris, Germany and Japan. He has been on CBS and NBC, and ABC's "Turning Point" is filming Marbury for a one-hour documentary in the spring.

"I don't feel like I'm a star," said Marbury, whose team is ranked No. 10 nationally by USA Today. "I feel like I'm just a normal person. A lot of people have to realize that all of us are 17- and 18-year-old kids and we're just like any other kid except for the popularity."

"He has handled all of the attention incredibly well," said Lincoln coach Bob Harstein. "He has a certain poise and maturity, on and off the court."

At the Adidas ABCD camp at Fairleigh Dickinson University last July, Rogers did what many others haven't been able to do -- stop Marbury. They won't be guarding each other tonight, but either one can decide which team advances to tomorrow's night Southeast bracket championship game against either Dunbar or Anthony of New Jersey.

The Poets, who say they haven't received respect nationally this season, will get the opportunity to change that against one of their biggest non-area rivals. Between 1990 and 1993, Dunbar played St. Anthony four times, including twice at the Charm City Classic.

With participants including Donta Bright (Massachusetts), Keith Booth (Maryland), Michael Lloyd (Syracuse), Roderick Rhodes (Kentucky), Dan Hurley (Seton Hall), Roshown McLeod (St. John's) and Jalil Roberts (Wisconsin), it has been one of the nation's best matchups.

If Lake Clifton and Dunbar, No. 1 and No. 2 in the area, respectively, both win or lose tonight, it will set up a showdown for the top ranking. The two haven't met since Feb. 19, 1993, when the Poets won at Morgan.

"We can't think about Saturday; we've got to get it done tonight," said Lakers coach Charlie Moore. "If Dunbar's there, that's fine, but we can't concern ourselves with the future because the present will come up and bite you."

In 1981-82, Calvert Hall, under Mark Amatucci, won the mythical national championship with Duane Ferrell (Atlanta Hawks) and Marc Wilson, who starred at the University of Minnesota.

A year later, Amatucci left to become head coach at Loyola College. Stints as the head coach at Anne Arundel Community College and an assistant at Washington College followed before Amatucci returned to Calvert Hall last season.

Today at 3:30 in a Northwest bracket first-round game, Amatucci and his Cardinals, ranked No. 8 in the area, will face the nation's No. 1 team in Oak Hill of Virginia. Oak Hill is led by national player of the year candidate Ron Mercer.

In the other Northwest bracket first-round game at 5:15, St. John's Prospect Hall of Frederick, ranked No. 5 nationally will meet No. 14 Paterson Catholic of New Jersey, which has the country's top junior in 6-10 center Tim Thomas.

CHARM CITY CLASSIC TONIGHT

Site: Loyola College Reitz Arena

Games: Northwest bracket first round: Calvert Hall (15-4) vs. Oak Hill (Va.) (22-1), 3:30; Paterson Catholic (N.J.) (10-2) vs. St. John's Prospect Hall (12-1), 5:15. Southeast bracket first round: St. Anthony's (N.J.) (12-2) vs. Dunbar (13-0), 7; Abraham Lincoln (N.Y.) (15-1) vs. Lake Clifton (12-0), 8:45.

Tickets: $8, $10, $12, $15.

Top players: Ajmal Basit, St. Anthony's (N.J.), 6-8, Jr., C; Guy Butler, Lake Clifton, 6-7, Sr., C; Tony Christie, St. John's Prospect Hall, 6-7, Sr., F; Nate James, St. John's Prospect Hall, 6-6, Jr., F; Stephon Marbury, Abraham Lincoln (N.Y.), 6-1, Sr., G; Ron Mercer, Oak Hill (Va.), 6-7, Sr., F; Anthony Perry, St. Anthony's (N.J.), 6-5, Soph., F; Tommy Polley, Dunbar, 6-5, Jr., F; Shawnta Rogers, Lake Clifton, 5-4, Sr., G; Tim Thomas, Paterson Catholic (N.J.), 6-10, Jr., C; Marvis Thornton, Dunbar, 6-5, Sr., F; Melvin Whitaker, Oak Hill (Va.), 6-10, Sr., C; Andrius Jurkunas, St. John's Prospect Hall, 6-9, Sr., F; Billy Wells, Dunbar, 6-2, Sr., G.

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