Every winter, two things seem to remain constant as the Interhigh basketball season unfolds:
* Dunbar will stand at, or near, the top of the league standings.
* Dunbar will be led by a preseason all-America.
This season is no exception.
Six-foot-7, 218-pound senior Darryl Prue, a returning first-team all-Met selection who announced recently he will attend Georgetown University, is this year's Crimson Tide all-America.
He follows Bernard Campbell (Delaware State), Anthony Jones (Georgetown, Nevada-Las Vegas), Sylvester Charles (Wake Forest, Old Dominion), Joe Holston (Tulane) and John Duren and Craig Shelton (both of Georgetown).
Prue's Dunbar squad currently sports an 8-2 record and is ranked in the top 20 locally. He is averaging 23.6 points a game.
Prue is a third-year starter for the two-time defending Interhigh League champions. He averaged 12 points and six rebounds as a sophomore and 19.4 points and 12 rebounds last season. During those two years, Dunbar compiled a 44-8 record and earned consecutive berths in the city title game against DeMatha.
For his accomplishments last season, which included a 35-point outburst against Anacostia, and his showings in various summer league competitions, Prue was named third-team All-America in Street & Smith's Basketball Yearbook. Furthermore, Prue was honored as one of the top 100 prep stars by the Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook.
Prue's herky-jerky, left-handed, hanging layups and his forceful dunks in heavy traffic have excited basketball fans wherever he goes.
"I think he is one of the finest players in the area," said DeMatha Coach Morgan Wootten. "He reminds me of Carlton Valentine (DeMatha all-Met last season, now a freshman at Michigan State). He is quick, strong and effective with his back to the basket."
"The thing I'm impressed with about Darryl is that he finds a way to score; he finds a way to rebound; and he has a knack for being around the ball," appraised George Mason University Coach Joe Harrington. "He is unique in himself. He is a good offensive rebounder and has a flair for the game."
Chris Wallace, editor of Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook, said, "I saw him during the summer at Sidwell Friends and at the Athletes For Better Education Nike Camp at Princeton (University). He plays well within eight feet of the basket. He is tough, left-handed and has an assortment of shots in close. He's able to get it (his shot) off in traffic.
"I don't see him moving around the 20-foot area and making passes. He's an inside player, and that's not bad if you can do that against everybody."
The comments of the respected Wallace are intriguing. Although Prue is a bona fide inside scorer, some coaches feel the farther he is kept from the basket, the less offensive damage he could inflict. Prue, aware of this scouting report, worked over the summer on erasing the doubts about his perimeter abilities.
"I tried to improve on my 20-25-foot jumper over the summer," Prue said. "I didn't do it during the summer league games, but I did it at the gym, by myself. This season I have shot (and made) some 20-footers."
"He's going to need more shooting range for college," admitted Dunbar Coach Roy Westmore. "Last year I told him he couldn't just post up (defenders); I told him to work on his medium-range jumper."
The results so far this season? "He's improved 100 percent," according to Westmore. "Last season he took only four or five jumpers the whole season. Now he's shooting outside."
Undaunted when pitted against taller opposition, Prue still finds a way.
"I've played with and against Prue," said 6-10 DeMatha all-America Danny Ferry. "He finds a way to score (Prue scored 19 points in a losing effort against Ferry's squad in last season's city championship game at Cole Field House). You have to keep him outside and keep him off the boards. You want to try not to let him get inside, because he's strong down low."
Prue, who attended Kimball Elementary and Sousa Junior High, has not always been an inside power performer. At Sousa, where he averaged nearly 10 points per game as a ninth-grader, he played guard and small foward.
Prue did not begin playing organized basketball until eighth grade at Sousa.
"I picked up basketball moves on my own," Prue recalled. "I played around the neighborhood at Fairfax Village and Anacostia Park, and then I started going outside the neighborhood."
When it was time to attend high school, Prue was undecided: H.D. Woodson or Dunbar? "I wanted to go to a school that was already a winner," he said.
Under an open enrollment policy for junior high graduates, a District student may select the school he wishes to attend. "They (graduating ninth-graders) have the choice of picking any high school or career school (regardless of residential area)," explained Carolyn Paris, an Interhigh administrative aide who deals with high school enrollment.
Still, the question of recruiting arises.
At the time for Prue's decision, Dunbar, under former Coach Joe Dean Davidson, was already a perennial area power. Woodson had just graduated current Seton Hall star Andre McCloud.
Prue was relishing the thought of attending Woodson.
He attended Woodson for one day before finding out his junior high records had mistakenly been sent to Dunbar. He was sent to Dunbar to have his records sent to Woodson. While at Dunbar, he met Davidson.
"I was ready to leave (Dunbar)," said Prue, "but I started talking to him (Davidson). I would have gotten the records sent back to Woodson, but he asked me to stay.
"We just had a talk. He was telling me what position I would play if I stayed at Dunbar. He told me I would play small foward and power foward, and I liked that."
Westmore, who was coaching the Margaret Washington girls team at the time, was certainly happy to inherit Prue when he took over at Dunbar.
"Darryl's work habits are excellent," said Westmore. "He's the last player to leave the floor (following practice). I came in to try to build around Prue. I was looking at the talent I had, and I knew it would be wise to invest my time around a player I would have for two years. He provided the inside attack."
This season, in addition to taking the outside jumper, Westmore wants Prue's ball-handling and defense to improve.
"There are certain things I try to get him to work on," explained Westmore. "He's got to work on his defense, especially his perimeter defense, but Darryl will play the whole game, unless he is in foul trouble."
The relentless work ethic Prue has demonstrated on the court is of great concern to Westmore, and for good reason.
"He loves the game," Westmore said, "so much so that I am afraid he might not be devoting the kind of time he needs for his academics. But he'll have the (required) 2.0 (grade-point average out of 4.0) to graduate."
"Georgetown was the best school academically." said Prue, who is not sure about a college major. "I like the way he (Coach John Thompson) keeps track of his players (while at Georgetown, and after their playing days)."
"I should have a 2.2-2.5 (grade-point average) at graduation," said Prue. "I haven't talked to any players (at Georgetown) about the academics, but I have talked to (Mary) Fenlon (Georgetown academic coordinator). She told me how hard (academically) it will be, but I think I can handle it."
Prue is not concerned over what front court position he will play next season. "I'll wait until I get up there," he said.
The early decision to sign with Georgetown was a matter both Prue and Westmore decided would be best for player, coach and team. "He gave me a list of schools where he wanted to go," said Westmore. "He decided where he wanted to go, and I talked to him about some of the schools. Then he made the final selection.
"Then we talked about signing early," Westmore continued. "He wanted to sign early, so he could have a good senior year. We decided that if he was hounded (by college recruiters) his senior year, it might affect him. He wanted to concentrate on a good final year in his books."
Prue did not experience any unusual recruiting pressures.
"I signed early because I didn't want to be bothered (by coaches) anymore," he said. "After my junior season I started receiving a lot of mail (from colleges), but I was prepared. Bernard Campbell, Tyrone Jones (now a UNLV freshman) and everybody told me how it (being recruited) was going to be. I knew they were going to come after me."
Prue's parents have never pressured him about athletics. "They told me if it (basketball) was something I wanted to do, then do it."
His mother, Wanda, a secretary for the Fraternal Brotherhhood of Electrical Workers, and his father have had little chance to see Prue play. But grandfather James Wallace, a social worker at Howard University, manages to watch Prue quite frequently.
Prue likes to compare his inside offensive game to University of Oklahoma Olympian Wayman Tisdale. "But when I play wing, I play like (Maryland's) Adrian Branch," he added.
For hobbies, Prue enjoys watching football games (on many Friday afternoons or evenings, Prue could be spotted leaning on a railing, watching the Crimson Tide football team perform at home) and listening to music.
"I always look down low, inside first," explained teammate Darryle McClain. "If nothing is (open) inside, I keep the ball moving and try to get Darryl moving for an open shot. I think he's one of the best inside players in the area, and I enjoy playing with him."
To cap his senior season, what Prue would enjoy would be one more chance at DeMatha in Cole Field House. It could happen.