Cadre of tal­ented ju­niors set to make their mark this sea­son

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Glenn Gra­ham

The po­ten­tial game-win­ning shot — or just hav­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of tak­ing it — im­me­di­ately comes to mind when con­sid­er­ing what a “goto player” is for a bas­ket­ball team.

But long be­fore the player has earned the right to have a play drawn up for him to win the game, much more takes place be­hind the scenes.

The role is more ex­pan­sive than hit­ting the big bas­ket at the end, and most suc­cess­ful teams have a player who brings a bit ex­tra to help his team win.

“A go-to player is some­body you can rely on to make plays for your team,” Dun­bar boys bas­ket­ball coach Cyrus Jones Sr. said. “Not nec­es­sar­ily score a bas­ket, but also make the right pass, get his team­mates open and help them make the play for the team if he can’t do it him­self. You’re look­ing to make sure that player is a to­tal team player. He has to be Play­ers to watch, ex­panded polls, key num­bers

un­selfish, but, at times, he also has to be self­ish to make a play. They need to want to force the is­sue to make a play.”

This sea­son, there’s a tal­ented batch of ju­niors through­out the area who have in­tro­duced them­selves as go-to play­ers. John Car­roll guard Im­manuel Quick­ley set a high stan­dard last year in earn­ing Bal­ti­more Sun All-Metro Player of the Year hon­ors as a sopho­more, his high­light com­ing with a last-sec­ond shot to win the Bal­ti­more Catholic League cham­pi­onship. By that point in the sea­son, he had emerged as the Pa­tri­ots’ team leader, con­sis­tently bring­ing con­fi­dence and smarts to the floor to match his skills.

Among the other ju­nior guards look­ing to fur­ther es­tab­lish them­selves as cat­a­lysts for their teams are Calvert Hall’s Bren­dan Adams, Dun­bar’s Da’Shawn Phillip, Jop­pa­towne’s Mon­trell Horsey and Lake Clifton’s Rasheed Brown. All have taken dif­fer­ent paths, but they share many of the same qual­i­ties: con­fi­dence, hard work, smart de­ci­sion-mak­ing and fear­less­ness.

Last sea­son, the Car­di­nals were a young group that didn’t have a starter back from the 2014-15 team that claimed Mary­land In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion A Con­fer­ence and BCL crowns. Adams needed time to ad­just to big var­sity min­utes, but came on strong with a 25-point per­for­mance in a 75-73 win at Pal­lotti in midJan­uary and took off from there. He earned All-Metro sec­ond-team hon­ors af­ter av­er­ag­ing 13 points per game. With four starters back and some promis­ing new­com­ers, Calvert Hall is ranked No. 6 in The Bal­ti­more Sun’s pre­sea­son Top 15 and will be count­ing on Adams to pick up where he left off.

“Last year, I learned you have to be con­fi­dent be­cause you’re not go­ing to be able to play to the best of your abil­i­ties with­out con­fi­dence,” Adams said. “This year, [I have to] show the younger guys what it’s like, help them along and help them de­velop and con­tinue to play as well as I can while lead­ing the team on the floor.”

The Po­ets come in at No. 8, with Phillip’s re­sume a big rea­son for the rank­ing. His abil­ity was first no­ticed dur­ing his fresh­man year, when he showed he had what it took to make an im­me­di­ate im­pact.

“I was pretty con­fi­dent as a fresh­man,” he said. “I knew I would play var­sity, but didn’t know I would start. But when I started, I just told my­self I could do it and I be­longed. Once I fig­ured that out, the sky’s the limit.”

Last sea­son, he took his game to a higher level, av­er­ag­ing 16 points. He un­der­stands his role.

“He just con­tin­ued to climb the lad­der and do ev­ery­thing we’ve asked him to do,” Jones said.

“He’s a kid who has al­ways wanted to get into the gym and do ex­tra things to im­prove his game. You could tell from day one how spe­cial he was go­ing to be for the pro­gram, and it’s paid off. Last year, as a sopho­more, he did it again. He be­came more ag­gres­sive, and I think that has a lot to do with him re­al­iz­ing his po­ten­tial.”

Com­ing off an18-4 sea­son, Jop­pa­towne is the fa­vorite in the Up­per Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Ath­letic Con­fer­ence, with Horsey ready to build on his fine sopho­more sea­son. Af­ter play­ing be­hind a se­nior dur­ing his fresh­man year, he learned and got a small sam­ple of what it would be like when the ball would be in his hands more last sea­son. He showed he was ready, av­er­ag­ing 16.8 points, 4.5 re­bounds, 4.2 as­sists and three steals per game.

Af­ter sig­nif­i­cant grad­u­a­tion hits last sea­son, Lake Clifton coach Her­man “Tree” Har­ried was bank­ing on a tal­ented sopho­more group that was com­ing off an un­de­feated ju­nior var­sity sea­son. Brown quickly es­tab­lished him­self as the cat­a­lyst by av­er­ag­ing14 points, six re­bounds and two as­sists.

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