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Pitt basketball recruits to show abilities in Hoops Classic

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

By Mike White, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Part of Pitt's basketball future will be on display this weekend at the Petersen Events Center.

Three Pitt recruits will play Saturday in the fifth annual Pittsburgh Hoops Classic. Walter Waters, a 6-foot-10 center from Detroit, and Aaron Gray, a 6-11 center from Emmaus High School near Allentown, will play for the Pennsylvania All-Stars in the feature game at 8 p.m. against the U.S.A. All-Stars. Dante Milligan, a 6-8 forward from New York City, will play for the U.S.A. team.

Waters was placed on the Pennsylvania team to make the sides more even.

The preliminary game has top players from the WPIAL and City League.

Pitt has four recruits for next season, and the only one not in the Pittsburgh Hoops Classic is 6-9 Chris Taft of Brooklyn.

Duquesne will also have a recruit in the game. Sean McKeon, a 6-8 forward from Phoenixville High near Philadelphia, will play for the Pennsylvania team.

"The three Pitt recruits alone should be a drawing card," said Marvin Wright, one of the directors of the Pittsburgh Hoops Classic. "But we're hoping people notice the game overall and the kind of players we've brought in to play in the past."

Some top college players participated in the Pittsburgh Hoops Classic in past years, including Connecticut's Emeka Okafor and St. Joseph's Jameer Nelson.

The U.S.A. team this year also has North Carolina recruit Reyshawn Terry of Winston-Salem, N.C., Louisville recruit Brandon Jenkins of Detroit, Missouri recruit Thomas Gardner of Portland and LSU recruit Regis Koundjia of Laurinburg, N.C.

Among the Pennsylvania All-Stars are South Allegheny's Kevin Menifee, Upper St. Clair's Andrew Atman and Dale Meinbresse, Plum's Bobby Franklin, Lancaster McCaskey's Dustin Salisbery and State College's Gabe Norwood.

The coach of the U.S. team is Dru Joyce II, who coached LeBron James at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. St. Vincent-St. Mary has two players in the game -- guard Dru Joyce III and forward Romeo Travis.

Here is a look at some other district all-star games:

Girls' Roundball Classic

This is the 13th year for the premiere girls' game in Western Pennsylvnia. It will be Sunday at Fitzgerald Field House. The Edna Campbell North will play the Shannon Davis South at 2 p.m. The Suzie McConnell Serio West will play the Swin Cash East at 4 p.m.

The four teams are named after former WPIAL and City League star players.

This is the first time in more than a decade the event will have only Western Pennsylvania players. In past years, players from the eastern half of the state played Western Pennsylvania in the feature game. One year, Pennsylvania played Tennessee.

"There are three national all-star games now for ladies," said Roundball director Bob Gallagher. "There are games in eastern Pennsylvania, too. You are only allowed to play in two all-star games, so it's just become very difficult to get players.

"Plus, there are over 50 girls from Western Pennsylvania schools playing Division I college basketball now. We thought with that talent pool, we would just have a classic made up of the top players from this side of the state."

Oakland Catholic's Meg Bulger, the Post-Gazette Player of the Year, will play for the West All-Stars. Three other members of the PG Fabulous Five will play in the event. They are Albert Gallatin's Loui Hall, Clairton's Kamela Gissendanner and Moon's Erin Wigley.

Born2Run

The Born2Run All-Star Games for boys will be April 19 at La Roche College. In recent years, the feature game in the event has been Pennsylvania against the U.S. team. But this year's games will feature only Western Pennsylvania. players.

Born2Run director Jim Hoy said one of the reasons for the format change is because the PIAA won't certify any all-star games in the state. Thus, Division I college coaches can't attend.

"Why should we try to get some really good kids in here if the college coaches can't come?" Hoy said. "I think the PIAA is really affecting kids' lives here. This would be a golden opportunity for some of them to be seen by college coaches. There are guidelines the PIAA could take to ensure the game is run properly. But the PIAA won't get involved."

The Born2Run games will have some talented players from the WPIAL and City League, and also some others outside the leagues. Franklin's 6-1 Nick Hager and Tyrone's 6-2 Tyler Mertiff were both second-team all-state in Class AAA. Kennedy Catholic's 6-3 Craig Wellman and Conemaugh Valley's 5-11 Brandon Studer were both first team in Class A.


Mike White can be reached at mwhite@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1975.

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