Baltimore and Maryland have produced an astonishing array of basketball players who went on to college stardom before jumping to the NBA.
Today, Kevin Durant, widely considered among the greatest players ever, holds the flame aloft in the pro ranks, along with Markelle Fultz, Jeff Green, Jalen Smith, Jordan Hawkins, Will Barton, Josh Hart, Justin Lewis, Cam Whitmore and Immanuel Quickley.
The names and accolades are too many to mention, from Towson Catholic’s Gene Shue in the late 1940s — he is credited with putting Charm City’s hoops scene on the map — through the school’s greatest player ever, Carmelo Anthony. We can’t forget Dunbar’s Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Williams and David Wingate in the early ’80s and the Poets’ Sam Cassell a few years later.
The current college basketball landscape is, as always, well stocked with players who forged their talents at area schools, gyms and playgrounds. March Madness will be here before you know it. Here are some local players to keep an eye on.
Carlton Carrington, 6-foot-5, freshman guard, Pitt — Carrington was the first NCAA Division I player to record a triple-double in his debut since Notre Dame’s Chris Thomas did it 22 years ago. The Baltimore native and St. Frances alum had 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in Pitt’s 100-52 season-opening win over North Carolina A&T. He’s averaging 18.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7 assists, while shooting 56.3% from the field.
Hunter Dickinson, 7-foot-2, senior center, Kansas — The DeMatha Catholic product transferred to Kansas for his senior season after a remarkable run at Michigan. Dickinson averaged 17.2 points and 8.4 rebounds during his three years in Ann Arbor. The preseason All-American is off to an explosive start with the Jayhawks, averaging 22.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists over their first three games. He had a monster game against Kentucky this week with 27 points and 21 rebounds in the No. 1 Jayhawks’ 89-84 win.
Jahmir Young, 6-foot-1, senior guard, Maryland — The DeMatha Catholic grad and All-Big Ten second-team honoree became one of 10 active NCAA players with 1,900-plus points, 600-plus rebounds and 350-plus assists. Although the Terps are off to a 1-2 start, Young has continued to be productive, averaging 14.7 points and 5.7 assists.
Julian “JuJu” Reese, 6-foot-9, junior forward, Maryland — An All-Big Ten honorable mention last season, Angel Reese’s baby brother posted the third-best single-season field goal percentage (.632) in program history. He also led the team with 42 blocked shots while adding 34 assists and 27 steals. This season, Reese is averaging 13 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 59.3% from the floor.
Kwame “KJ” Evans Jr., 6-foot-9, freshman forward, Oregon — A McDonald’s All-American and one of the most sought-after recruits in the country, the Baltimore native attended Poly as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Montverde Academy in Florida, where he was a member of the 2022 national championship team. The freshman is averaging 22.5 minutes through Oregon’s first two games, putting up 4.5 points and 6 rebounds per game.
Solomon Ball, 6-foot-3, freshman guard, UConn — Ball played at St. James School in Hagerstown before spending his senior year at New Hampshire’s Brewster Academy, where he averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 rebounds, shooting 52.9% from the field. He was a consensus top-60 national recruit. He more than makes up for his lack of ideal height at the shooting guard position with elite athleticism and a high motor. In three games, Ball has averaged 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds for the defending national champions.
Amani Hansberry, 6-foot-8, freshman forward, Illinois — The 2022-23 Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year averaged 15.3 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists last year at Mount St. Joe’s. The Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year and Catholic League Tournament MVP led the Gaels to a 38-4 record, equaling the state record for wins. Hansberry has averaged 10 minutes in the Fighting Illini’s first two games, scoring 3.5 points per game while collecting 4.5 rebounds.
Benny Williams, 6-foot-9, junior forward, Syracuse — Williams, a Bowie native who played at St. Andrew’s Episcopal before transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for his senior season, announced himself as a player to be reckoned with last year with the Orange. In Syracuse’s ACC tournament loss to Wake Forest, he had 18 points and 11 rebounds. After a two-game suspension, Williams returned for Syracuse’s game against Colgate this week and played nine minutes without scoring.