Nineteen men's college basketball players from the Baltimore area entered last week with championship hopes. After the first weekend of NCAA Tournament play, two locals still have a shot at cutting down nets.
In the West region, Daxter Miles Jr. (Dunbar) will lead fourth-seeded West Virginia in a Sweet 16 matchup against top-seeded Gonzaga on Thursday night in San Jose. In the East, former River Hill star Charlie Thomas IV's eighth-seeded Wisconsin squad takes on fourth-seeded Florida on Friday night in New York City.
Miles, a junior guard, had a quiet opening round, scoring just two points in the Mountaineers' 86-80 win over Bucknell. But in West Virginia's second-round matchup against fifth-seeded Notre Dame, the former Poets star poured in 18 points – 10 above his season average – on 5-for-8 shooting from the field. He also contributed three assists, three steals and two rebounds against the Fighting Irish.
Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail columnist Mitch Vingle wrote that Miles' scoring outburst "might have been the most surprising" among West Virginia's guards.
He had two 23-point performances this season, but took only four shots, making one for two points, against Bucknell.
"It feels good, man," Miles said. "I think this was one of the most complete games, offensively and defensively. I just believe in my guys. We just have to stay focused now and stay in the gym."
Thomas, meanwhile, did not appear in Wisconsin's wins over ninth-seeded Virginia Tech or top-seeded Villanova. On the season, he's averaging 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds.
Note: South Carolina star PJ Dozier is a Columbia, S.C., native, but his father, Perry, and uncle, Terry, should be well-known to long-time Baltimore basketball followers. The Dozier twins starred at Dunbar in the mid-1980s before playing for the Gamecocks. PJ Dozier, a sophomore guard, helped South Carolina upset Duke and reach its first Sweet 16 in program history.