It's only December, but already college basketball coaches are descending on Potomac High where Coach Taft Hickman might have the best Class A basketball team in the state.
Junior Byron Tucker, a 6-foot-8 swing man, is attracting the most attention.
"He's going to get bigger, but he can already shoot, rebound, dribble, block shots, or anything else you look for in a player," said Hickman, who has coached the Braves since 1980. "He's got excellent work habits and a great attitude, so you can understand why so many colleges are excited about him."
Tucker's brother Brian is a 6-10 freshman center at the University of the District of Columbia, so Hickman knows that bloodlines are also on his star junior's side.
As happy as Hickman is to have to Tucker, he's even more pleased to have a well-rounded team that matched up well against nonleague powers DeMatha and Coolidge in preseason scrimmages.
Renard Johnson, a 6-2 wing guard, has already signed with Virginia Military Institute and had several offers from Ivy League schools. An excellent student, Johnson is averaging 3.88 in the classroom to go along with his 18-point average on the court.
Junior point guard Donald Grant directs Potomac's controlled fast-break offense. Sophomore forward Jason Scott is 6-5 and should help Taylor with rebounding. Senior James Warren, at 6-4, adds stability to the Braves' transition game.
Winner of four its first five games (the only loss to AA power Crossland), Potomac will be tested in its holiday tournament Friday and Saturday. Potomac will open against Central and then could face Suitland, another potential AA contender, in the championship.
"This is a talented team that also works hard," said Hickman, who formerly coached at Bowie State College and Laurel High. "We have the potential to be very good as long as we keep working together."
The Metro Conference's first all-star football game since 1969 was played Dec. 2 at Good Counsel. Twice postponed due to heavy rain, the game was a 7-0 defensive struggle won by Carroll Coach Maus Collins' Blue team.
Georgetown Prep defensive tackle David Rubino forced a fumble near the White team's goal line late in the fourth quarter and Carroll defensive end Keith David scooped it up for the touchdown. Prep's Paul Colonna added the conversion.
Gonzaga linebacker George Sanker, who struggled with injuries much of the season, proved what he can do when healthy by intercepting two passes and making 10 tackles. DeMatha defensive back Francis Cager also contributed two interceptions.
Bullis is the No. 1 scholastic wrestling team in Maryland, according to the latest rankings provided by the state's coaches. Mount St. Joseph's (Baltimore) is No. 2, followed by Wicomico, Arundel, McDonough, Eastern Vo-Tech (Baltimore), DeMatha, Westminster, Oakland Mills and Southwestern.
Rated No. 1 in their respective weight classes are Laurel's Gunnar Burling (105 pounds), Broadneck's David Poe (112) and DeMatha's Karl Tamai (119).
Football knee injuries cost Bladensburg two basketball starters, Elijah Wallace and Lemuel Gainyard, but Coach Dennis Cope's Mustangs could surprise preseason picks Crossland, Suitland and Friendly.
Three-year starter Keith Bailey and Jerome Woodard, a two-year starter, are back along with a host of talented, if inexperienced, underclassmen.
There are several rule changes in scholastic wrestling this season. First, whenever a wrestler builds a 15-point lead, the match is stopped, he is awarded a technical fall and his team gets six points. Rubber suits for losing weight are out, but mustaches are now allowable for wrestlers. Also, the heavyweight class is no longer unlimited. Wrestlers must be 275 pounds or less . . . Walter Johnson volleyball coach John Wetherill has retired after 13 seasons. His record: 138-24 . . . Former Washington Diplomats player and Gaithersburg soccer coach Lincoln Phillips is the athletic director at Newport Prep . . . Howard County still has varsity coaching vacancies at Centennial (girls track), Howard (boys and girls track), Mount Hebron (gymnastics), Oakland Mills (tennis) and Wilde Lake (gymnastics).