It isn't difficult to pick out Phil Chenier Jr. on the basketball court. The Wilde Lake High School forward bears a striking resemblance to his father, the former Washington Bullets shooting guard.

At 6 feet 5, Phil Chenier Jr. stands two inches taller than his father and is the tallest player on his Wilde Lake team. That size -- and perhaps his name -- has made him attractive to recruiters.

"It appears the colleges are looking at him as a guard, the spot that we're not playing him," said Wilde Lake Coach Paul Ellis. "We play him on the base line or a wing spot where we expect him to hit the boards."

At first glance, his modest career statistics wouldn't seem to justify the attention Chenier has received. In his first varsity season as a junior, he averaged 12 points and six rebounds a game. This season, he is second on the team in scoring with 13.8 points per game.

What recruiters likely see is what his father notices. "He sees the court well, has the knowledge of the game and the size," says Phil Sr., sounding a lot like the analyst that he is on Bullets telecasts.

Despite a work schedule that often takes him on the road with the Bullets, the elder Chenier, who also has two daughters, watches as many of his son's games as possible. One opportunity came recently in a big road win against county rival Oakland Mills, the defending Maryland 3A champions.

The Wilde Cats (9-7) rallied in the second half against the Scorpions, and Chenier scored 10 points. Meanwhile, in the stands, father Phil balanced his role as objective analyst ("I think he turns his back to the ball entirely too much") with indulgent father ("I'd like to see him more offensive-minded").

And while it's obvious that Phil Sr. is eager to see his son succeed, it is equally obvious that neither he nor his son will gauge that success purely on what happens on the hardwood. Indeed, any illusion that he is put under intense fatherly pressures is put to rest quickly. "His father has really stayed in the background more than the average parent," explains Wilde Lake assistant coach Jerry Keith.

Phil Jr. concurs: "I think he's a little shy to express how he feels about my game. Usually I seek him out after the game, because he doesn't want to push at all."

The elder Chenier concedes that he doesn't feel comfortable giving advice, but said, "I still have a keen interest in what's he's doing out there."

That interest began early. Phil Sr. remembers an unsuccessful attempt to become even more involved in his son's progress -- a stint coaching Phil Jr. in midget league basketball in Howard County: "It was tough for me. I was putting more pressure on him because I wanted him to do so well. When he said he wanted to see what it was like to play for another coach, I thought that was my sign to bow out gracefully."

Nonetheless, the younger Chenier continued his journey through sports, but literally outgrew most of them. "I stayed with soccer for my freshman and sophomore years and after that, with my growth, it was just basketball," he said.

Last summer Chenier was named MVP of a basketball camp in Pennsylvania. "I saw certain skills in ninth and tenth grades," said Phil Sr. "But I guess I knew he had what it takes this summer."

The younger Chenier came back with a more positive outlook and an improved game. "Last year I just played it," he said. "After this summer I started getting letters and contacted and I said 'Hmmm, maybe.' "

With the improvement, though, came added expectations and pressures. "It's just acquaintances, not my friends. My good friends accept me for who I am," he said. "Actually, I think most people accept me for who I am. It's just that on the basketball court they know who my dad was and what he accomplished and they expect me to have an edge on everybody else. Truthfully, I do have an edge up but it can only carry so far."

Chenier and his father have discussed a path more and more promising athletes are taking -- preparatory school. By postponing college a year, he would maintain full eligibility while honing his skills and bulking up his 175-pound body. And, although he has a 2.9 grade-point average, he also sees advantages to the extra academic preparation.

For now, the Cheniers are preparing for any possibility. He is currently applying to colleges to meet enrollment deadlines while father and son seriously lean toward delaying a year. "He's been through the situation so we talk a lot. If I'm ready, he wants me to move on," says Phil Jr. "But I think he and I know that it's best for me to move on to a prep school."

Both father and son prefer to concentrate on the immediate future, but still entertain NBA fantasies.

"Sometimes I just look at him and daydream," said the elder Chenier. "Then I look at the odds and I remember when I was in high school and I said to myself, 'Nah, I don't have it.' But somebody has to take those spots, somebody has to lead the league in scoring. You've got to set goals."

"Academics are the priority," said Phil Jr. "If it was meant for me to be in the pros . . . I don't think that there is any kid in the world who would turn that down, I'd love to get that far. But, as hard as it was for him {his father} to get there, it's even harder now with the level of competition so much higher. But if I can keep on working on my game something will happen. If that's it, I'm ecstatic; but if not, it's not the end of the world."