Ralph Dalton a 6-foot-8 high school basketball star from Suitland who has announced he will attend Georgetown in the fall of 1981, played in several high-level summer all-star games under an assumed name The Washington Post has learned.
Dalton, who will be a senior at Fishburne Military Academy in Waynesboro, Va., this year, played in the Urban Coalition League under his own name but made trips to two major torunaments with the Urban Coalition League team using the name Ralph Brown.
In a game against the New York City All-Stars June 1, Dalton was introduced and listed in the box score as Brown. He also was listed as Ralph Brown when he played in the Boston Shoot-Out Tournament, June 12-13.
"I played those games under the name Ralph Brown," Dalton said, standing outside his parents' Suitland home. "I thought it might be a way to get the recruiters off me. A lot of people knew who I really was, but then again, a lot of other people didn't. That was why I did it."
Asked whose idea it was for him to play under an assumed name, Dalton answered: "I'd rather not talk about it."
Then he added: "Right now, I'd have to say it was my idea. I would have to leave it at that."
Playing under an assumed name in a summer league violates no NCAA or interscholastic rule.
The all-star team Dalton played for was coached by former Georgetown player Steve Martin and administered by Jim Wiggins, Urban Coalition League director. Wiggins is a close friend of Georgetown Coach John Thompson.
The Washington team lost all three out-of-town games, with Dalton averaging 15 points a game. Dalton also played for the 1789 team in the Urban Coalition League under his real name. The 1789 team is made up of Georgetown alumni, a Georgetown varsity player and Georgetown recruits.
"It would have been foolish for him to use an assumed name in Washington where everyone knows him," Thompson said. "There was no point in it."
Top-level summer all-star games are a showcase for high school talent. They are also used for early contact between coaches and players entering their senior year in high school. Admission of $2 to $5 is usually charged and crowds as large as 8,000 attend the top games. The Boston games drew about 15,000 people over three nights.
Dalton said that Thompson and Bill Stein Georgetown assistant coach, were aware that he had played under an assumed name but said he could not remember if he had discussed the situation with either man. But Thompson said he had talked with Dalton about the matter. "I don't remember what I said to him or he said to me," Thompson said.
Thompson asked whose idea it was for Dalton to play under an assumed name, said, "I'm not going to tell you it would be beneath my dignity to tell Ralph to play under an assumed name because it wouldn't be. There are 50 kids in this country who I would tell to play under an assumed name if I thought it would alleviate some of the problems and pressures that go with recruiting, as long as it broke no rules, which this did not.
"But," Thompson added, "I've been called a lot of things but I've never been called dumb. Don't you think it would be rather dumb of me to try and hide a 6-8 kid in front of 5,000 people in Boston? If I wanted to hide the kid, why would I let him play there?"
Thompson has no official connection with the Urban Coalition team or league, but he did attend all three all-star games.
Dalton was the ninth man on the Suitland varsity two years ago when he was a gawky 6-foot-6, 16-year-old. According to Col. Jim Hogg, athletic director at Fishburne, he was recommended to the school by Thompson and Stein.
"They had recommended other players to me in the past," said Hogg, a friend of Thompson. Fishburne played against the Georgetown JVs last year and will do so again this year, Hogg said.
Thompson noted that several players he had recommended to Hogg in the past had not gone to Georgetown.
Hogg said Dalton was a poor student at Suitland, but improved his grades considerably last school year finishing with a C-plus average. In the meantime, Dalton grew to 6-8 and 240 pounds and developed into a solid inside player.
He decided during the year that he definitely wanted to attend Georgetown. "I like the coaches and it seems like a good place for me," Dalton said.
Dalton added that, having decided he would go to Georgetown, he didn't want to be bothered by college recruiters. Thus, the decision to play under an assumed name.
When Dalton was introduced as Brown at the all-star games in New York and Boston, several coaches in the audience thought they recognized the player.
Assistant coaches from four schools, all of whom asked not to be identified, said they were told by officials of the Washington team that they "weren't allowed to talk" to any of the players. One coach said: "It was obvious they were trying to hide the Dalton kid. But everyone knew who he was. It all seemed kind of silly, like a charade."
In eight years, Thompson has built the Georgetown program from a 3-22 record the season before he arrived to a 26-6 record and a spot in the NCAA final eight in 1980. His eight-year record at Georgetown is 156-72. He has refused to discuss his recruiting of high school players in recent years, even after getting a commitment from a player.
"In the old days, when we talked about players we signed, we didn't get any attention at all," he said. "Now, when we don't talk about it, everyone's curious. But I won't talk about it."
Thompson said, "you don't know what this kid's been through."
Thompson refused to elaborate on what Dalton had been "through," but did say that at least one coach at another college had called Fishburne Military Academy and accused the school of being involved in Dalton's using an assumed name. "And the idiot told them (Fishburne) that Ralph would lose all his NCAA eligibility, which is absolutely untrue," Thompson said.
Dalton, who averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds for Fishburne, said he has no regrets about playing under another name. "I won't get in any trouble for it," he said. "At the end of the summer, when we went to Los Angeles (for another game), I went back to being Ralph Dalton."