Ernie DiGregorio

Md. talent finds home at G. Mason

The grass is always greener on the other side of the Potomac.

In 1997, when new coach Jim Larranaga mapped out his vision for George Mason University basketball, those aspirations hinged on regional recruiting. To the west lay the Blue Ridge Mountains, not prime territory for the city game. To the northeast, however, was the depth of talent that's been coming out of Baltimore and the Maryland suburbs of Washington for generations.

None of the nation's top 20 programs recruited Patriots seniors Lamar Butler, Jai Lewis and Tony Skinn, or sophomores Folarin Campbell and Will Thomas. All were looking to get away from home, but not so far that their families couldn't drive to see...