After playing three years for the nationally ranked boys basketball program at Montrose Christian in Rockville, Terrell Vinson returned home to play his final season for St. Frances, emerging as one of the best players in the area. Vinson, a 6-foot-7 forward, scored 16 points in Tuesday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal win over Loyola. His No. 2 Panthers finished the regular season 18-0 in the A Conference and 14-0 in the Baltimore Catholic League. Vinson, who has a 3.0 grade-point average, had made an oral commitment to Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, but he reopened his recruiting after the head coach resigned last month.
What is your earliest basketball memory?
When I first started playing when I was 10 years old and I was sitting on the bench. I couldn't get off the bench. I was too skinny and I was a little undersized for a big man. I was built like a stick.
How did you move up through the ranks?
I basically earned my way around because I always played the best people. When I was going into my sophomore year, I went to ABCD Camp and I played pretty good there and made the all-star team. From that day, a lot of people knew who I was. They had always had question marks about whether I could play or not.
Why was that?
Because, my high school seasons at Montrose, I didn't put up big numbers.
Isn't that hard to do with all the guys, all the talent they have?
Yeah, and our offense, his style of coaching was like a college style of coaching, so you have your seniors who were going to come first, then the juniors, then the sophomores. I was basically just a freshman and sophomore waiting my turn to my upperclassmen years.
How did it go for you last year?
It went good. I averaged like 18 [points] and 10 [rebounds]. That was good numbers for that school. That's like 30 and 15 for any other school.
Why didn't you stay there?
Mark [Karcher] was a pretty real coach. I always knew him throughout the years, and I wanted to come home and play my last, senior year at home. I wanted my parents to watch me play because it was hard for them to make the games in Rockville.
Did you fit in pretty quickly at St. Frances?
Yeah, I got to know them over the summer.
You seem to want the ball with the game on the line. Do you like to be the go-to guy?
Yeah. I mean every kid dreams of hitting that big shot when he was a little kid, watching Kobe [Bryant] and [Michael] Jordan and all of them.
How did you develop that poise to make the big shots with the game on the line?
It's probably my environment growing up. When you grow up around a lot of city kids or kids who have a drive to be the best, you kind of develop that through the years.
Now that you're looking at colleges again, what are you looking for?
Basically the same scenario as Loyola Marymount. They were going to have a big man come in, so I wouldn't be stuck on the box. It was a nice school, a fun environment and an energetic coach.
You have a pretty versatile game - you mentioned you prefer not to be the big man. Do you think that versatility will help you at the next level?
Yeah, because a lot of people are just a wing or just a post player growing up. They're probably good at their positions, but being able to go in and out, I might have the best of both worlds.
Did that versatility just develop naturally as you came up through the ranks?
I had to work on my perimeter moves. I was always a big man coming up, but over the years, I worked on my perimeter moves a lot and I started developing an outside game.
Do you model your game after a particular player?
Nah. I don't really try to. I just try to play. I try to watch every little thing. I might try to grab something from Paul Pierce or take something from Kobe or Dwyane Wade.
When you go to college, are you planning to stay for four years and get your degree?
Whatever the opportunity provides. You would like to stay in college for four years, but if you feel you can go [into the NBA draft] after three or after two, and the opportunity is presented for you, I'm pretty sure you go and then come back and get your degree.
Do you think there would be pressure from Mom to get that diploma?
Yeah. She wants to see me get a college degree because she's got one.
Is Coach Karcher the kind of guy who can help you get ready to play big-time college, maybe look for the NBA?
Yeah, because he's done the college and a little bit of NBA and overseas ball, so he's seen a lot about the game. He gives me good advice like situations that might happen on the court or what's not going to happen on the next level, stuff he did in college.