Which one is Curtis Dudley?
The lithe young man in practice who drops in a couple of base line jump shots, spins into the key to release an arcing, fallaway shot over his defender, then closes with a swooping, double-clutch, two-handed dunk, all before working up a reasonable sweat?
Or the young man sitting on a row of bleachers who fidgets with his blue knit cap, looks away from his subject every few moments, and, in a very quiet voice, admits he gets butterflies each time he steps onto the court?
Curtis Dudley himself is not sure.
"I'm quiet," he said. "People always tell me that. I don't know. I think I'm pretty low key when I'm around people for the first time or in a new situation.
"But when I'm on the court, I take control. That's where I really feel comfortable. On the basketball court."
Dudley, a 6-foot-6 senior at Capitol Christian Academy in Largo, may well be the best kept secret of the area high school season, a big-time player at a small private school. His statistics read: 23.7 points, 12.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game. But statistics tell only part of the story.
The fact is, Dudley, a star player on a struggling 4-5 team, doesn't much care for statistics. Nor does he care for attention. He says he wants only to improve his passing and ball-handling skills and lead the Warriors into the playoffs.
"Curtis lets his actions speak for him," said Jim Keibler, his coach. "He wants to be a winner. That's what sets him apart. And when the game is on the line, we look to Curtis."
But while Capitol Christian looks to Dudley for leadership, the reserved captain looks inward, turning to faith for strength.
"I pray a lot; I pray before every game," said Dudley, who sings in his church choir. "We're taught to put Him first and let our actions serve Him. That helps us to think clearly and give 100 percent.
"Winning is great, but it's not the most important thing. The most important thing is pleasing God."
Keibler believes Dudley's convictions help him keep things in perspective.
"In our society you find a lot of people who turn to drugs, alcohol, suicide. They have no purpose in living, no enthusiasm for life itself," he said.
"In every aspect of Curtis' life, beyond the court and on it, he's been an asset to God. As long as
"I love competition. I get very fired up when I'm playing. I've always had that. I've always wanted to win -- to be the best. I've got a lot of confidence." -- Curtis Dudley Curtis does his best, he walks off the court with his head held high. He's not after the recognition. He's content to be himself and accept whatever comes his way. It's not his nature to seek out glory."
But for the moment, the spotlight is shining Dudley's way. He already has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Delaware on a basketball scholarship next fall. Dudley, who turned down Howard, Liberty Baptist, La Salle, Brown and American, is excited about the prospect of playing small forward.
A chance to play collegiately has long been a dream, and this summer Dudley pushed hard toward his goal. He worked on his inside game. He worked on his shot. He worked toward becoming a more versatile player, one who could thrive anywhere on the court.
And he jumped. By the end of the summer, Dudley had improved his vertical leap from 31 to 34 inches. In a game earlier this season against Arlington Baptist, Dudley blocked nine shots. Two weeks ago, in an 85-58 loss to McNamara, Dudley barely missed hitting his head on the rim.
"I love competition," he said. "I get very fired up when I'm playing. I've always had that. I've always wanted to win -- to be the best. I've got a lot of confidence."
As a player, Dudley knows his strengths and his weaknesses. Shy by nature, he shrugs off most questions. But he takes his basketball seriously.
What's the best way to stop Curtis Dudley? His eyes light up.
"If I'm trying to get in on the low post," he said. "I would front me -- not let anybody get the ball inside. When I get in there -- when I've caught the ball -- I'm probably going to score. On the outside, shade me to the baseline; I like to go there. Don't get too far, but don't get too close either because I'll drive or I'll shoot it.
"And I'm gonna score."
Four years ago, Dudley didn't think he would make the first cut of tryouts; now, on a team with only eight players, he's often double- and triple-teamed.
"He's a smart player but he's gotten where he is because he's a hard worker," said Keibler. "He knows he can't try to do everything himself. He's a team player, and the most important thing to him is the team."
Although a four-year starter, Dudley hasn't let success spoil him. If something kept him from playing basketball, he said he "could live with it. I'd be a little disappointed, but I don't think basketball is everything. Basketball isn't a high priority. If it came out, I wouldn't have lost everything."
Of the many highlights of his high school career, including co-MVP honors in the Tri-State Conference last year, Dudley said his two proudest have little to do with basketball: his selection to "Who's Who in High School" last year and being named to the Society of Distinguished American students.
His most memorable moment this season? "I haven't really had any yet," said Dudley. "But I'm getting there."