Despite signing three of the top 10 high school basketball players in the nation and getting back his five starters from last year's NCAA tournament team, Georgetown University Coach John Thompson is not predicting a national championship.
"People have told us we had the best recruiting year in the country," said Thompson, whose team was 20-12 last season. "At this point, I have mixed emotions about that. We went after people who had these (all-America) labels placed on them and we were fortunate to get them. We didn't go after all-Americas, we went after players who could fit in and help our program. We don't recruit all-Americas."
Thompson signed the nation's top high school center, 7-foot-1 Patrick Ewing of Cambridge, Mass., all-Mets William Martin (6-7) and Anthony Jones (6-6) of Washington and Ralph Dalton (6-9) of Fishburne Academy in Virginia.
"We wanted to fill certain positions on our front line, especially at center, and we needed some outside shooting," Thompson said. "Ewing and Martin are quality people up front and Jones can take some of the burden off Eric (Floyd). We do have one scholarship left, but we're not in a hurry to give it away. It has to go to someone who could fill a need. I'm very pleased with our recruits."
Some area schools have completed their recruiting, though the search for quality athletes never ends. An update on how the other schools have fared: Maryland
Coach Lefty Driesell knew Albert King and Ernest Graham would be gone, but the unexpected loss of junior Buck Williams, who declared hardship and was the No. 1 draft pick of the New Jersey Nets, wiped out the Terps' starting front line.
Driesell didn't have a great recruiting year, signing only De Matha's 6-8 all-Met Adrian Branch and Martinsville, Va., 6-5 all-America Jeff Adkins. Branch should make an impact immediately. Adkins looked somewhat shaky in recent all-star games and may not be ready to start, though he may be forced into action.
"We didn't get quantity but we got two quality players and I'm very satisfied with the two of them," Driesell said. "We have four scholarships left but there aren't that many people available. We need a power inside player to replace Buck. We're still looking for players."
Virtually all of the country's top prospects are signed, and Driesell went searching in vain for junior college help. The Terps lack size, experience and depth and it may be too late to improve much. American
The Eagles won't be ranked in the preseason polls but Coach Gary Williams says his team has a good chance of duplicating or even bettering last year's 24-6 mark. Russell (Boo) Bowers, drafted in the third round by Cleveland, is gone and with him went many points and rebounds. AU also lost Dennis Ross and Robin Hoey, but Williams isn't sulking.
The Eagles landed 6-8 J. D. Springer of Oak Hill Academy near Roanoke. Springer and 6-8 Andre Adams, a former Anacostia High player now eligible after transferring from Ohio University, should give Williams much needed strength on the backboards. Williams also is looking for help inside from recruits 6-6 Jim Lutz of Easton (Pa.) High School, 6-5 Steve Nesmith of Malvern Prep in Philadelphia, and Jay Samonsky, a 5-11 guard from De Matha.
"We had a good, solid recruiting year," Williams said. "We're coming off a good year and hopefully we'll have a good season coming up. Then, maybe, we'll be able to get a few of the blue-chippers the caliber of Martin and Jones the following year." George Washington
The Colonials, who posted their worst record (8-19) in 13 years last season, are undergoing a complete reevaluation of their talent, according to new Coach Gerry Gimelstob.
"No one is guaranteed a spot," said the former Indiana assistant. "I haven't seen any of the (returning) guys play and everyone has to earn a spot. And if he does get a starting spot, he'll have to work to keep it. We're not thinking rebuild, we're going out to win."
Gimelstob, who plans to scout extensively in the summer leagues around the area, wasted little time joining the recruiting chase and came up with several prospects. The top player recruited was 6-9 Mike Brown of East Orange, N.J. "I'm looking for Mike to play right away," Gimelstob said. "He's big, quick and I think he can be really outstanding for us."
Others signed were two freshmen guards, 6-4 Joe Wassel of Phoenixville, Pa., and 6-2 Ron White of North Central High in Indianapolis. Dave Hobel, a 6-foot transfer from Allegany CC, could step in as the point guard since Curt Jeffries has gone. Other transfers expected to play right away are 6-9 Penny Elliott, who has one year of eligibility left after coming from Virginia Commonwealth, 6-8 Mike Neville, who came over from Catholic, and 6-foot Mike Bray, formerly of De Matha and Northwest Louisiana. U. of the District of Columbia
The Firebirds won 14 of their last 15 games to finish 17-8 and Coach Wil Jones thought his team should have been in the NCAA Division II tournament last year. There may be no denying Jones and his talented players this year.
UDC needed a slick point guard to get the ball to all-America candidates Earl Jones, the 7-footer who led the country in rebounding last year (13.3), and 6-7 Mike Britt. It found one in 6-foot Kenny Payne, former all-Met at Mackin and a starter at Rutgers last year.
UDC also wanted another tough inside player to divert some of the attention from Jones. In 6-11, 215-pound Al Holland of Massanutten Academy, UDC may have found its man. For added rebounding, Wil Jones also signed 6-7 Jeffrey Carmichael of Pinehurst, N.C. George Mason
Coach Joe Harrington says the Patriots had their best recruiting year ever. Veterans 6-10 Andre Gaddy and 6-5 Terry Henderson, both red-shirted after having been injured early last season, are healthy now.
"Our team should be definitely improved," Harrington said. "We get Andre and Terry back, we signed some excellent freshmen and our returnees have that year of experience. We'll be a lot better, but so will other teams.We'll have a tougher schedule than last year."
The Patriots, 10-6 last year, will be much improved in rebounding. Harrington signed Flint Hill's 6-5 all-Met Carlos Yates, one of the area's best all-around players who should have no problem breaking into the starting lineup. Others recruited were 6-8 Pierre LaMitte of Massanutten Academy, 6-2 Mike Yohe of Steelton, Pa., 6-9 Mike Hanlin, a junior college transfer from Allegany CC, and 6-7 Mike Shannon, a junior transfer from Centenary College. Virginia
The Cavaliers had their second-best recruiting season ever. The best was three years ago when they signed 7-4 Ralph Sampson; the second-best was because Sampson decided not to turn professional and return for his junior year.
Virginia's outside shooters, Jeff Lamp and Lee Raker, are gone but the coaches will be more than happy to build this fall around the nation's player of the year.
"Having Ralph come back was great," said Assistant Coach Craig Littlepage. "The loss of Lamp and Raker gives us two holes to fill quick, but we got some good people. We signed all the players we went after."
The two recruits Virginia hopes will fill the wing positions are 6-6 Dan Merrifield of Linwood, N.J., and 6-5 Tim Mullen of Ridgewood, N.J. Both are regarded as fine outside shooters and good rebounders. The strong forward spot could go to 6-8 Jim Miller of Princeton, W.Va. The two other recruits were 6-1 guards Ken Johnson of Loyola of Baltimore and Jim Runcie of F. D. Roosevelt in New York. Howard
After a slow start, the Bison signed several players who should help them next year. Power forward Kevin Thomas of Neptune, N.J., 6-9 and 230 pounds, probably will replace Larry Spriggs, drafted by the Houston Rockets. The other two recruits signed were 6-8 Chauncey Terry of H. D. Woodson and 6-0 Bryant Standley of Oakland, Calif. Former McKinley High 6-2 all-Met Ed Swails, who transferred from Seattle, will be eligible in the fall. Navy
Coach Paul Evans is optimistic his seven recruits will play a major role in turning around last season's 9-16 mark.Evans is particularly impressed with 6-8 Todd Alexander of Columbus, Ohio, one of the tallest Midshipmen ever.
Other freshmen who will play right away include 6-4 Tom Cowens of Newport, Ky., the brother of former Boston Celtic center Dave Cowens, 6-7 Steve Grace of Sanford, Fla., and 6-1 Sul Matta of Phoenix. The other recruits were 6-5 swing men Eric Leininger of Cincinnati, Mike Klooster of Phoenix and Kyle Cozad of Las Vegas.