The basketball handle, "go-to guy," is a perfect fit for this senior who led the Ducks to their first state basketball title and a 28-0 season.
Tyler Smith, a 6-foot-2 guard who may attend one of two prep schools in West Nottingham or Hargrave Academy, led the metro area in scoring with 28.1 points per game with 27 double-digit games and averaged 5.0 assists and 4.9 steals for the Class 3A champions.
Shooting 59 percent from the field, Smith launches NBA distance three-pointers with 45 percent accuracy. Able to adjust his shot in the air or while driving to the basket, Smith orchestrated a potent offense that averaged 83 points a game. Smith and his teammates had more than their share of easy baskets because they consistently beat the opposition up and down the floor. "That's our game, quickness and rebounding to take it to the other end," said Smith, who frequently threw up the alley-oop pass to 6-8 Richard Dorsey.
Some of Smith's biggest moments included: 13 of his 20 points in the last period while in foul trouble of the Ducks' first of two wins at Dunbar, 87-72; a game-high 32 points, 8 assists and 4 steals in the 97-83 Baltimore City title win at Dunbar; a career-high 50 vs. Franklin; 29 points in the 81-71 3A North region final triumph over Randallstown; and 54 points, 8 assists and 6 steals in two state tournament victories - one by 105-74 over Chopticon and another by 76-72 over Gwynn Park.
Coach of the Year
A protege of former Dunbar coach Bob Wade, who led the Poets to back-to-back unbeaten seasons in 1981-82 (29-0) and 1982-83 (31-0), Rodney Coffield took his place among city and metro area coaches who have run the table, by leading the Ducks to the greatest boys basketball season in school history.
Coffield, a police officer at Douglass, led Douglass to the school's first state championship in Class 3A and a 28-0 record to top Southwestern's 27-0 in 1996-97 which had been the best mark since Baltimore City public schools began participating in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state tournament in 1992-93. It's the most wins since Dunbar's mythical national championship team in 1991-92 went 29-0 under Pete Pompey, a Douglass graduate.
Coffield was the sixth man on those Wade-coached powerhouses and uses a lot of his former coach's concepts. Douglass became the first team to win two games at Dunbar, and in the second for the city title, it won by 97-83 for the most points ever scored by an opponent at Dunbar. Upon ascending to No. 1, Coffield and his Ducks met the challenge of then No. 2 Walbrook with a 69-68 victory and went on to defeat No. 3 Randallstown in the region final. It posted wins over two other state semifinalists besides Dunbar in Mervo (4A) and Eastern Tech (3A) before outlasting Gwynn Park, 76-72, for the state crown. "It was a special team that loved each other and played for each other," said the sixth-year coach.
Josh BooneSouth Carroll, senior
When the Cavaliers lost their All-Metro guard, Marshall Strickland, on expired eligibility, many wrote them off. Boone stepped up big time and led South Carroll to the state semifinals for the first time in 13 years, something even Strickland didn't do. The 6-foot-9 senior center averaged 20 points, 14.4 rebounds and 7.0 blocks per game to earn Carroll County Player of the Year honors.
Boone, who was second-team All-Metro as a junior, used his long arms and athleticism to dominate in the paint. He led the Cavaliers (20-6) to their second straight Carroll County title and rolled through the Class 3A West region.
In region semifinal and final victories over Blake and Walter Johnson, Boone, who shot 54 percent from the field, had 62 points, 33 rebounds and 14 blocked shots to send the Cavs to Cole Field House. He is uncommitted for now.
Gerald BrownDouglass, junior
One of the big guns on the state 3A champion Ducks, Brown, a 6-3 junior guard, averaged 19.9 points, 3.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game.
Brown was one of several high flyers on this talented team, shooting 55 percent from the field and 82 percent from the line. Some of his top games came in victories over then-No. 2 Walbrook, 69-68; a pair of wins at Dunbar; the 81-71 North region final over Randallstown; and the state tournament wins. After replacing Walbrook as The Sun's No. 1 team, the Ducks got a game-high 31 points and an assist on the game-winning basket from Brown against the Warriors.
In the 87-72 regular-season victory at Dunbar, Brown, who can penetrate and finish or spot up for a three-pointer on the perimeter, scored 22 points and topped it with 25 in the 97-83 romp at Dunbar to claim the Baltimore City title.
Richard DorseyDouglass, senior
This 6-8 senior center intimidated opponents and, as he said, "gave us momentum."
Dorsey, a transfer from New Foundation, an alternative school with no basketball team, averaged 11.7 points, 12 rebounds, 7.0 blocks and 3.0 steals for the 3A state champions. He delivered the game-winner on an assist from Gerald Brown in a 69-68 victory over then-No. 2 Walbrook after the Ducks had ascended to No. 1 for the first time in history. In two wins at Dunbar, Dorsey had 23 points, 23 rebounds and 11 blocks. He served notice in the first period of the first game against the Poets by ramming five shots back in their faces and delivered a two-handed dunk to ignite a 30-11 start.
In the two state tournament wins, Dorsey had 35 points, 24 rebounds and 10 blocks - 20 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocks in the 76-72 final over Gwynn Park.
J.J. OutlawMount St. Joseph, senior
Considered by many to be the premier guard in the combined Baltimore Catholic League/Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, the 5-10 Outlaw moves up from second-team All-Metro his junior year to first team in his final year.
Outlaw averaged 14.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists for the No. 5 Gaels (24-8). His inspiring play led the Gaels on a nine-game winning streak down the stretch in BCL/MIAA A Conference play to finish 11-5 as the fourth seed in the 31st BCL Tournament.
An All-Metro pass receiver, Outlaw has a football scholarship to Villanova, but may try to make the Wildcats' basketball team as a walk-on.
Laronja OwensAnnapolis, junior
Anne Arundel County's Player of the Year, the strong and physical 6-foot-1, 190-pound Owens is the first Panthers underclassman to surpass 1,000 career points.
Owens, a junior guard and two-time All-Anne Arundel County selection, has 1,065 career points after averaging 23.4 points for the No. 2 Panthers (25-1) this season. With Owens running the show on the court for the Panthers, they have won two straight county titles, never losing to a county opponent, and have a 49-3 record over the last two seasons.
Owens shoots three-pointers with 44 percent accuracy, leading the team in three-pointers (42). A 51 percent shooter from the field overall, Owens sinks free throws with 81 percent accuracy and set school records this season for free throws made (169) and attempted (209). Owens also led his team in assists (6.1) and steals (47).
Kevin SteenbergeRiver Hill, senior
Not only is the 6-10 Steenberge the tallest player in Howard County basketball history, but he is one of the all-time best as well. Steenberge, a senior center who signed with Richmond, dominated inside to pace the No. 14 Hawks (17-6) to their first Howard County title and earned Player of the Year honors.
Averaging 24.8 points, 17.2 rebounds and 7.5 blocks, Steenberge shot 62.2 percent from the field, had 21 double doubles and five triple doubles. The two-year team captain owns over 20 school records, including single-game marks of most points (40), most rebounds (28) and most blocks (15).
One of his top games was a 3A East region quarterfinal loss to Friendly of Prince George's County in which he had 28 points, 20 rebounds and 7 blocked shots. . Steenberge, who is also president of the River Hill Student Government Association and a member of the National Honor Society, finished his career with 1,084 points.
Levi StukesRandallstown, junior
The third of three juniors on the All-Metro first team, Stukes, a 6-2 guard who was a key player as a sophomore on the Rams' Class 3A state champion in 2000-01, became the main man this season.
Scoring in double digits in all 26 games this season, Stukes averaged 27.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists to lead coach Kim Rivers' No. 3 Randallstown to the Baltimore County championship, the 3A North region final and a 25-1 record. The Rams' only loss was by 81-71 at eventual 3A state champion Douglass in the region finale despite 22 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists by Stukes.
With Stukes leading the way, Randallstown had reeled off 35 consecutive wins dating back to last year before the loss to Douglass. Baltimore County coaches voted Stukes as their Player of the Year.
James TaylorDunbar, senior
In what was not a typical Dunbar championship season, Taylor, a 6-3 senior guard, was a glistening bright spot. As the lone returning starter from the Poets' 2000-01 Class 2A state champion team, Taylor racked up numbers very similar to his junior year when he averaged 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists.
This season, Taylor averaged 18.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists for the No. 6 Poets (21-6), who finished as a Class 1A state finalist. It became obvious early in the season that Dunbar's inside game was lacking and that put added pressure on Taylor to do even more from his backcourt position. Taylor responded well and made the Poets a lot tougher. In the first of two losses to Douglass, Taylor led the Poets with 22 points.
Being recruited by Hampton (Va.), N.C. State and Tennessee, Taylor plays in tonight's Charm City Challenge.
Landy ThompsonArchbishop Spalding, senior
Clearly the catalyst of the No. 4 Cavaliers (29-7), who won both the regular- season and tournament titles of the combined Baltimore Catholic League/Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, Thompson led his team in scoring (14.4), steals (60) and 3.3 assists per game.
The 6-foot-1 senior guard transfer from Newport Prep was named MVP of the 31st BCL Tournament mainly for his superb defense. Thompson had 41 points in three tournament wins, nine in the 45-36 final over St. Maria Goretti. His defense on BCL regular-season Player of the Year, Goretti's Matt Tanner, was crucial as he held him to just 13 points.
One of his top games of the season came in a 79-62 rout of Dunbar. Thompson staged one of the season's most prolific efforts in the final period to break open a 52-50 game led by the Cavs by scoring 19 of his game-high 32 points in the last eight minutes. Thompson is leaning toward Mount St. Mary's.
Will Bowers, Spalding, Junior Center
Jaz Cowan, McDonogh, Senior Center
Dwight Dean, Gibbons, Senior Forward
Paul Frazier, Mervo, Junior Forward
Josh Johnson, Annapolis, Junior Forward
Tyson Lesesne, Edgewood, Senior Guard
Gary Neal, Calvert Hall, Senior Guard
Tavon Nelson, Lake Clifton, Senior Forward
Damien Spence, Southern-B, Senior Guard
Steve Woodard, Walbrook, Senior Forward
Note: Teams selected by Pat O'Malley after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.
1. Douglass 28-0 2. Annapolis 25-1 3. Randallstown 25-1 4. Archbishop Spalding 29-7 5. Mount St. Joseph 24-8 6. Dunbar 21-6 7. Calvert Hall 22-9 8. Mervo 17-9 9. South Carroll 20-6 10. Walbrook 18-6 11. McDonogh 17-10 12. Southern-B 14-7 13. Meade 19-7 14. River Hill 17-6 15. St. Paul's 19-5 16. Lake Clifton 16-10 17. Southern-AA 15-8 18. Eastern Tech 19-8 19. Long Reach 17-7 20. Woodlawn 14-9
Other teams considered: Arlington Baptist (20-10), Gilman (21-13), Edgewood (19-6), North County (14-10).