Barry Frazier, the phantom of the box scores sometimes atop the nation's college scoring lists this season, is a basketball prince without a kingdom.
Dressed all in scarlet and dragging a sack of balls behind him, he is the first University of The District of Columbia player to enter the Phelps High School gym. There he practices the skill that sets him apart - the jump shot.
His teammates, the little known UDC Gorgons, arrive later, dressed all in black. Frazer is one of them, yet definitely apart - the red and the black - as befits one with a sort of regal playground blood.
"They call me the Heist Man," says Frazier, summing up his roll as an underground celebrity in this town, "because I can really heist it."
Frazier can heist it, hoist it, jack it up, turn it loose, fill it up, stick it, give you a facial and toss some Js. There are two ways of putting the ball in the basket that bring instant respect - from above and from afar.
Barry Frazier is the master of the later.
So great is the 6-foot-2 junior guards renown for scoring as he, pleases that his coach apologizes for his mere 33-point average explaining that Frazier is often rested for 10 minutes a game and is under orders to shoot as little as he can until the game is on the line.
"I tell other player to keep the ball away from Barry as much as possible," says Emory Waters. "When he touches it, my other players stop to watch."
When Frazier gets the ball regularly, he is too good not to watch. He has been turned completely loose only once this season. Against Hampton, a team vastly UDC's superior. Waters found his club 20 points behind and simply said, "Fellows, clear a side for Barry."
A dozen Frazier jump shots later UDC was ahead by a point.
"They put a little guy on me, so I posted him" says Frazier surgically, "The n they had a 6-6 check on me, so I started shakin.""Actually," he says, struggling to be modest, "there wasn't nothing they could do with me."
Though UDC eventually lost. Frazier ended his show with 48 points on 19-for-31 shooting. It was vintage Frazier - turn on the faucet, forget team play, and watch the scoreboard click like a pinball machine.
"We thought we had held Frazier to two points in the first half this week," said Bowie State's coach, not realizing Frazier was checking himself. "We were ahead, 29-28. Then he scored 26 in the second half."
Frazier is the epitome of that city phenomenon - the kid they call a "Basketball Jones" - who lives the game, but cannot bear to leave home for the big time.
When Frazier left H.D. Woodson High, after leading the Interhigh in scoring two straight years, he had his choice of scholarships. He chose Georgia, became homesick in Athens, Ga., never enrolled and came back to the District in four days.
Back home where he felt "at ease, relaxed on the court," he played for Washington Tech for two years, averaging 32 last year as the Nation's No. 3 junior-college scorer.
But Frazier's real challenges come in summer, on the Washington playground and in the high-octane Urban Coalition League against pros.
Frazier knows the details of those encounters with Larry Wright of the Bullets, John Lucas of Houston. But he mentions them casually, almost in street code.
"I gave Lucas 31" he says. "Wright was the best defensive player who ever guarded me. I really had to work for all 39 . . . Lucas has some nice moves. He had me retrieving. Yeah, I was retrieving the ball from the ref after he'd lay it in."
The wonder is that UDC's Waters has been able to mold and work with a player who has always been seen as a sort of unalterable, conscienceless force that knew no style except his own.
"People told me he would be unable to play basketball as part of a group. They were right - his attitude stunk. He was a little snotty, says Waters.
So the first day of practice, Waters just "waited for Barry to say any little thing. Then I chewed him out in front of the team. I don't listen to a bunch of lip.
"He just changed my whole attitude," says Frazier gratefully. "Another coach could just use me. You know, take my 30 points a game and forget me. But he and I fell in love with each other.
"He talks, eats and sleeps basketball. He tells me the truth - that I didn't concentrate on defense and I would never get a shot in the NBA unless I learned how. He told me unless my defense and my attitude changed. I had no chance.
"Now I smile at the refs. I never give 'em a bad look anymore. It's just dumb not to realize that they're going to treat you the way you treat them."