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August 6, 2009

AAU recap: Baltimore Stars

Few local AAU basketball programs had a more fluid and wide-ranging roster this summer than the Baltimore Stars.

The Stars, led by coaches Duane Davis and Tony Baylor, had a welcoming, open-door policy of sorts, which allowed highly-touted players such as C.J. Fair (Syracuse) to join the program for specific tournaments. Fair spent most of his summer with Nike Baltimore Elite, but returned to the Stars -- his longtime team -- last month for the AAU nationals in Orlando.

“I think it was a successful summer given the pressures,” said Troy Franklin, a longtime Stars official. “Carl Fair came back and played with us, and he really, really did well. You’ve got to be careful to have the right mix with the right coaching to showcase the kids, because that’s what it’s all about. With all the pressure, some kids may think the grass is greener somewhere else. But I think it was clearly indicated by a number of folks, coaches included, that the Baltimore Stars experience wins out. We always seem to field a winning program. We were really excited about this summer.”

Besides Fair, who will spend his senior year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy, several other former City standouts were members of the Stars organization at one time or another. At least four will begin their college basketball careers this fall. Small forward Adam Johnson signed with St. Francis (Pa.), but will instead attend Cecil College. Tore Turner is headed to Wesley College in Dover, Del., Malik Pack will suit up for Neumann College near Philadelphia, and Quinton Goodwin plans to play for Delaware Technical & Community College.

Fair wasn’t the only big-time Baltimore player who suited up for the Stars at least once this summer. Oak Hill (Va.) small forward Roscoe Smith made an appearance with the Stars, as did former Lake Clifton standouts and Memphis commitments Will Barton (Brewster Academy) and Antonio Barton (Notre Dame Prep).

“Antonio played with us early, and Will Barton finished up with us at the AAU nationals,” Franklin said. “And of course, he put on a show. So it’s always fun to have Will with us. Sometimes the kids make a decision to try to be everywhere, and we don’t want to do anything to limit the kids. We don’t discourage a kid and say, ‘you’re with us or you’re not with us.’ We want to make sure we get our arms around those kids, in particular to make sure they’re on the right page with the clearinghouse and NCAA readiness.”

Whenever Smith, Fair or one of the Bartons suited up for the Stars, a horde of high-major Division I coaches would be sure to follow. That led to more looks for three lesser-known Stars with Div. I futures: Digital Harbor guard Justin Jackson, Mount St. Joseph forward Ryley Beaumont and Mount St. Joseph shooting guard Matt Miller.

Jackson, who teamed with older brother George (Coppin State) to lead Digital Harbor to the 1A state championship, is hearing from Mount St. Mary’s and George Mason, according to Franklin. Miller, a lights-out shooter, joined the Stars in Orlando. Franklin said Akron, Radford, UMBC, New Hampshire, Quinnipiac, Gardner-Webb and Bucknell are just a few schools that have expressed interest. The 6-foot-6 Beaumont, meanwhile, claims offers from Fairfield, Loyola, Siena and Navy.

“Here you have a skinny kid, quiet, who goes out and plays against some of the who’s who and not only holds his own, but he serves them,” Franklin said of Beaumont’s play. “And that evolves into credibility, and now you have stature. Now you have recognition, because you did your thing on the big stage against kids that have already been established and recognized as high DI worthy.

“It does matter who you play, and the Baltimore Stars have been fortunate to be in position to play in the big games.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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