He is 6 feet 10, the most recent dynamo of DeMatha, and April 2 Danny Ferry finally announced his decision. He said he will attend Duke University.

A recruiting war had ended. "People always asked me about it, but I never felt pressure from it until I looked back. Now I realize, there was pressure. I'm definitely relieved it's over," Ferry says.

What does this 18-year-old know about recruiting pressures?

How could there have been pressure when, by his own estimation, about 100 schools contacted him by letter and/or sent a coach to visit him and tell him he was The Man? He even received letters from schools he said he never had heard of.

"I don't even know where David Lipscomb College is," he told a reporter. (It's in Nashville.)

How could there have been pressure when Parade magazine voted him national prep player of the year; or when he led DeMatha to a 31-3 record by averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds per game, while playing center? Pressure, when your father is general manager of the Washington Bullets, the perfect basketball adviser and the stern professional who by virtue of his occupation, you figure, probably scared off any would-be recruiting cheaters?

DeMatha Coach Morgan Wootten also was an incalculable plus, Ferry says, because Wootten's reputation also probably scared off any recruiting cheaters. Nobody offered him anything that wasn't squeaky clean, Ferry says.

What pressure was there when marquee coaches such as Notre Dame's Digger Phelps and Kentucky's since-retired Joe B. Hall stopped by the DeMatha gym to see Ferry or when pros such as Mitch Kupchak (North Carolina) and Tom McMillen (Maryland) called to pass the time of day and to tell him -- Oh, by the way! -- about the better sides of their alma maters?

How can there be pressure when Ferry narrowed his choices to Duke, North Carolina and Maryland? This was easily accomplished, he admits, since "I am an ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) person, who grew up in an ACC area and I always dreamed of playing in the ACC."

Ferry had Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell in his living room one day drawing Xs and Os on a pad. Then, on another day, he had North Carolina Coach Dean Smith showing him Tar Heels game films on an athletic department wall. Next, Ferry had Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski bringing a Blue Devils videotape to his home to show on his parents' VCR. If your folks don't own a video machine, the coach told Ferry, no problem, he'd bring his own.

Viewing the tape, Krzyzewski told Ferry, "Watch Jay Bilas. Now watch Mark Alarie. That's where you'll be playing."

What pressure?

But wait one minute. What's this business about the governor of Maryland calling Ferry and speaking to him in his most persuasive voice?

"He did," Ferry admits with a golly-gee smile.

It seems that the day before Ferry officially picked Duke, Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes played recruiter. He called Ferry at his parents' Bowie home to suggest kindly that Ferry become a Maryland Terrapin.

And that's pressure.

"(Hughes) said, 'Obviously, I'm calling to get you to go to Maryland. Coach Driesell has built a great program. I hope you go to Maryland,' " Ferry recalls Hughes telling him.

But Ferry already had made up his mind. "I told him I had all the information and facts that I needed," Ferry says.

One day later Ferry proclaimed "Duke." Now, he talks of playing for "Coach K," the nickname the Blue Devils, 23-8 last season, have given Krzyzewski.

And, using the optimum amount of logic, Ferry now says with a grin, "I couldn't make my decision based on what was best for the governor.

"I'm somebody who can go to a college and contribute right away," says Ferry, who weighs 230 pounds, not including the weight of expectation. "I've been given all of the honors. People might expect me to be a savior of a program and win a national championship. That's unrealistic. I feel I can contribute and make the team better overall."

Ferry knows that such pressure is common to the BMOC (Big Man on Court). And few of them win real big. "Stuart Gray didn't do it at UCLA. Greg Dreiling hasn't done it (at Wichita State and now at Kansas). Danny Manning will do it at Kansas, but he still won't be like a Ralph Sampson or a Patrick Ewing," Ferry figures.

"I think I will be more like a Manning. He's not a great intimidator. Neither am I. He doesn't turn around and dunk on five people, like a Sampson or a Ewing. Neither do I. I think I'm versatile for my size. I can play inside or outside.

"I think I make people better around me. That's what good players do -- Larry Bird, Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), Magic Johnson. Len Bias does it at Maryland. Chris Mullin did it at St. John's."

Ferry is noted for his quickness, an added bonus for a big man.

"Yeah, but I have to get quicker," he says. "That was quickness in high school and now I'm going to college. I'm going to be guarding quick people. I could be guarding Bias or Duane Ferrell or John Salley (both of Georgia Tech)," he says.

Ferry's own recruiting process was, it seems, a methodical exercise of keen evaluation. He certainly had enough time to master the art. He says he began receiving letters from colleges when he was a 6-7 ninth grader.

"The first letter I got was from somewhere like Illinois State. It was just a form letter. You know, 'Dear Student/Athlete.' Anyone with size gets those letters," Ferry says.

All colleges wishing to contact Ferry were told to contact his coach, Wootten, who then relayed messages back to Ferry. "I didn't want coaches calling me at home," Ferry says. "Anyway, the coaches probably felt that my dad wouldn't put up with it if they called at midnight."

By late last September, Ferry says he had narrowed his choices to Virginia, Duke, UNC and Maryland. He had no interest in the Big East Conference, he says, "because I didn't want to go to school in the middle of a big city and most all of the Big East schools are in the middle of a big city."

And what about playing for Coach John Thompson at Georgetown, the year after Patrick Ewing graduates? "My Dad said to me that Georgetown had talked to him. (But) I didn't want to go there," Ferry says.

"It wasn't the place for me. Part of the reason was the same reason that I didn't go to the University of Maryland: I wanted to get away from home. It never occurred to me to go there (Georgetown). I didn't feel my style of play would fit in there."

Ferry adds, "I'd be lying to you if I said it didn't worry me with all of the things you hear about Coach (John) Thompson.

"Being the only white player on the team wouldn't have worried me. I've been the only white player on a lot of teams, like in AAU (Amateur Athletic Union). And I might have been the only white player at Maryland, too . . . I wanted to go away, but not too far away to come home."

Thompson was not available to comment.

Ferry said he finally narrowed his decision to North Carolina and Duke. "I had narrowed it down to two schools regarded as good academic colleges. Once I got to that point, it was strictly a basketball decision."

He says he drew up a list of pluses and minuses for each school. "My father read them and asked me questions. He didn't try to tell me which school to go to. It's not like I can ever go back and say, 'You messed me up, Dad.' It was my decision.

"At North Carolina, I would have had to make the opportunity myself. They would have had four 6-foot-10 guys there in my freshman year, Warren Martin, Brad Daugherty, Dave Popson and Joe Wolf. Popson and Wolf are sophomores coming back next year as (junior) starters. It would have been a hard situation for me to come into. (But) I'm confident I could have played into it.

"But at Duke, the opportunity is waiting for me now . . . I was impressed with the people there. Of all the schools, I just seemed most comfortable at Duke. I felt like I fit in there.

"My style of play suits the way Duke plays. I've always played man-to-man defense. Offensively, Duke only has one person inside and that would not be me. That means I could play inside and outside . . . Coach K says I have a good chance to start. I'm not going in there with the attitude that I'll start. I'll go in there knowing that I'll contribute."

Ferry says he liked Driesell very much. He also says, "Dean Smith has always been an idol of mine. He's always been considered the dean of coaches . . . I called him up (last Tuesday) and said, 'I'm going to Duke.' He said, 'I know you would have liked it here. But I'm sure you will do great at Duke. Don't look back at your decision.' "

As of early this week, Ferry said he had still not talked to Driesell. "I called his office before the press conference, but he wasn't there," Ferry says.

After all this , Danny Ferry's basketball career merely has passed the opening tipoff.

"If Duke turns out to be half as good to me as DeMatha was," Ferry says, wearing a Duke T-shirt and a look of relief, "it will have been a great decision."