A pall descended on Northwestern High School last night after the news that Jay Bias had been murdered. This younger brother of the late Maryland basketball star Len Bias had led Northwestern to a state championship as a junior in 1987 and was named first-team All-Met in 1988.

Many of the school's current varsity basketball players who did not know Bias, but knew of him, expressed sympathy to the bereaved family, which four years ago endured the cocaine-overdose death of Len Bias just hours after he had been the second player selected in the NBA draft, by the fabled Boston Celtics.

Karen Sollazzo, an English teacher at Northwestern, took a moment to remember the influence Jay Bias had on his peers in a British literature class his senior year.

"He added a certain spark of interest to what we were doing," Sollazzo said. "We were studying 'Macbeth' and he memorized the soliloquy to it. All the students had to memorize {the soliloquy}, but because he did it first, many of the other students wanted to do it equally well.

"I enjoyed him and I'm real sorry to hear about this. He was certainly nice having in class. He was a kid and he was just all right. When I heard that he was killed, that was the first thing that came to my mind."

In the gymnasium, many players walked around in disbelief, particularly junior Eric Redman, who had been touched just to know and play basketball with Jay Bias.

"I played with him at the Columbia Park Rec Center and he was an okay person," said Redman. "He wasn't the type of person who you couldn't get along with. I feel sad because I knew him and I feel sad about anybody that I know that dies."

"It's too bad when anybody loses their life," said Northwestern's first-year basketball coach Leonard Wood, "but when it's someone from Northwestern, I'm sure it hits home with a lot of {teachers} who had him in class and with a lot of people who knew him."

The atmosphere outside the Bias house on Columbia Avenue in Landover was even more dismal, as many of Bias's neighborhood and basketball pals shivered out in the cold, just staring at the house as scores of those close to the family arrived and went inside.

"I'm very sad," said Sam Durant, who lives on Columbia Terrace. "We hung out together, played basketball and sometimes we played football. He was very generous. This just shocks me.

"You just can't really go anywhere without someone doing something or trying to start something. I know his mother must be going through a lot, but she should keep her head up and keep on doing what she's been doing."

Asked when he was going to go home, Durant replied, "I was about to go back, but I don't feel like going in yet."

John Riley, who also played basketball with Jay Bias, didn't stand outside the family house as long, but was just as depressed.

"He was okay people," Riley said. "He tried to help people and he didn't try to get you involved in the wrong thing. He was basically about playing basketball."