So there was Dunbar’s legendary basketball coach Bob Wade back in the day, alone in his office jumping for joy.
It happened on June 22, 1987, and not just once or twice, but three times.
He was away from a television, so he asked his wife, Carolyn, to monitor the NBA draft and pass along updates. Every time one of his former Dunbar players was selected in the first round — Reggie Williams was the fourth pick, Muggsy Bogues at 12 and the late Reggie Lewis at 22 — she would call with the news.
Those Poet leaps followed.
For Wade and many of the area’s top high school basketball coaches — past and present — the wins and championships and pats on the back provide instant satisfaction. But there’s no doubt, the ultimate rewards come farther down the road.
“Your job is to do the best you can to help the kids move into everyday mainstream of life and to take care of himself and his family,” said Wade, whose Poets won 272 games in 11 seasons starting in 1975, including four undefeated seasons and two mythical national championships.
“So it’s very rewarding to watch them go beyond that, earn a living as a pro athlete, help their family, give back to the community and also set themselves up for life after basketball. To me, that’s most gratifying as a coach.”
To this day, Bogues shows how much he appreciates the time and effort Wade invested in him. After a fine four-year career at Wake Forest, the 5-foot-3 point guard enjoyed a 14-year career in the NBA and now serves as an ambassador to the league while running the Muggsy Bogues Family Foundation.
“When Coach came into our lives, it was essential,” Bogues said. “At that time, we were teenage kids trying to find our way with goal and dreams, but no direction. So having a guy that had been through it, that understood both aspects — academically as well as an athlete — he guided us in the right direction. We just bought in wholeheartedly what Coach was selling — everything he was saying made sense to us.”
‘It’s not always about basketball’
At Edmondson, the shining star from 15-year coach Darnell Dantzler’s basketball program is 2010 grad Stanton Kidd, who persevered in fulfilling his dream of becoming an NBA player when, at 28, he signed with the Utah Jazz last summer.
Last month, Kidd, who was released by the Jazz in November, returned to Edmondson to talk with this year’s Red Storm before a playoff game — sharing his atypical path to the NBA that started with playing junior college ball before competing at two Division I schools and then professionally in three countries.
Kidd’s foundation, he says, started in the same West Baltimore gym in which he was recently speaking with his mentor, Dantzler, again by his side.
Kidd recalls all the encouragement, confidence and instruction Dantzler provided on the court. And, just the same, Kidd shares others times when his mentor would buy pizzas for the team after workouts and even played chauffeur for his senior prom.
“It’s major what he did for me and what he continues to do for Red Storm basketball program,” Kidd said of Dantzler.
“He’s a father figure to a lot of these young kids here. He’s got a lot of respect from me and my family, and he’s always going to be family because I love him to death. Darnell will be at my wedding if I get married one day, he will know who my kids are and all that good stuff, for sure.”
“That’s why I got into coaching,” Dantzler said. “I look at all the rec coaches I played for and Pete Pompey — father figures for all of us. What they gave back to us was incredible and now I feel it’s my job to give back to the kids as well.”
He added: “It’s not always about basketball. It’s rewarding to see all these guys with the opportunity to become professional young men. That’s what I’m most proud of, when they come back to me and say ‘Coach, everything you told me, it still holds to this day.’ That’s the most important part of it — being part of their lives and helping them develop into young men.”
‘A small part in their development’
The only time Mount Saint Joseph coach Pat Clatchey didn’t have his eyes glued to the television on April 4, 2016, was when he was tending to his constantly chirping phone.
That night, Villanova sophomore guard Phil Booth — two years removed from leading the Gaels to a sweep of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League titles — was having the game of his life on the NCAA’s biggest stage.
In the Wildcats’ 77-74 title game win over North Carolina, Booth was sensational.
He scored a team-high 20 points, going 6-for-7 from the field with two 3-pointers and made all six of his free throws.
Booth credited Clatchey and his four years in the Gaels’ program as an ideal primer to set up his big night and his fine career at Villanova.
“You feel like you’ve had a small part in their development,” said Clatchey, who has seen former players Henry Sims and Jaylen Adams reach the NBA. “One of the the things we talk about in our program is what it takes to play at the next level and be successful. And then when you see guys do it, for the guys that currently play for you it’s like ‘Yeah, OK, maybe this dude knows what he’s talking about.’”
Of all the players that have come through his program covering 28 years and 700-plus wins, Clatchey describes 6-foot-10 forward Jalen Smith, who earned All-America honors at Maryland this season as a sophomore and announced he was entering the NBA Draft on Tuesday, as different.
For Clatchey, Smith’s first year at Mount Saint Joseph was the biggest tell.
“He was always skinny with the goggles, but you could always see there was a lot of ability and potential there,” said Clatchey, who began following Smith’s progression when he was 8 years old in the Banneker rec program. “Then we kept him on the varsity as a freshman and he was playing against guys much bigger, much stronger, but he showed the competitiveness to hold his own.”
In recognizing special talents, Clatchey says a player’s character is vital in his development.
Does he want to be coached? Is he willing to work? Despite his incredible talent, does he understand it’s still a team game?
“It’s important as a coach to not only be able to identify talent and sometimes you may see something that other people don’t see, but you also have to have a vision of what they can become and be able to develop that.”
At Mount Saint Joseph, Smith became the first player to be named a McDonald’s All-American, was twice the Baltimore Sun’s Metro Player of the Year along with being Gatorade Player of the Year in Maryland his senior year.
The Terps standout is expected to be a first-round pick after recently declaring for the draft.
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“His games translates into the NBA,” Clatchey said. “He’s 6-10 and athletic, he rebounds, can run the floor, he’s a respectable passer, can score inside, score outside, step away and shoot, play the pick and pop game, trail the play, make free throws, switch on defense. Those are traits and characteristics a lot of NBA teams look for.”
When it comes to running his Lake Clifton program, 24-year coach Herman “Tree” Harried calls himself an extension of his former Dunbar coach Wade.
He has won more than 450 games, brought home five state titles and the one season he spent coaching Will Barton was instrumental in the forward making his way into the NBA playing for the Denver Nuggets.
“What I’ve learned from Coach Wade is being solid with your demands and being consistent with your demands,” said Harried, who played at Syracuse and then professionally overseas. “No matter what the circumstances are, you still have standards that you have to hold young people to and let them know it’s not going to fluctuate. I think it makes your program stand for more than basketball.”
Harried got a text message from one of his former players, Daquan Ross, the other day. It stated: “Sending my love to you and your family Coach. I love you and appreciate everything you instilled in me on and off the court. I wouldn’t be the man or father I am today if it wasn’t for you…”