- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2000

It was supposed to be a showcase for Maryland's next basketball superstar. Instead, it will be a rare glimpse of one-time basketball curiosity Tamir Goodman on a big-time stage.
Perhaps no athlete has gone through as much to arrive at tonight's Capital Classic at MCI Center than Goodman. The Orthodox Jew accepted a scholarship to Maryland in January 1999, which turned the teen-ager, dubbed the "Jewish Jordan," into a media phenomenon. The freckle-faced, red-haired player was profiled in Sports Illustrated, on ESPN and on "60 Minutes" for his unique mix of basketball prowess and religious faith, including his refusal to play on the Jewish Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
Suddenly Baltimore's Talmudical Academy was forced to switch venues because thousands of fans began to show up at its games. The school of 50 boys, which regularly produces rabbis, burst onto the sports scene thanks to the skinny athlete who could dunk wearing a yarmulke.
"I learned that people shouldn't always be envious of a celebrity lifestyle," said Goodman, who will play in tonight's main draw for the Capital All-Stars.
Things are a lot quieter these days for Goodman. The 6-foot-2 point guard essentially was forced out of his high school and his commitment to Maryland, which previously had implied it would not ask him to play on the Sabbath.
The sharpshooter fell from the Terps' grace after he played poorly through injuries last summer, bringing up questions whether he could compete in the ACC. Those doubts seem to have begun in March 1999, when Goodman shot 4-for-41 in a game at Cole Field House with Maryland coach Gary Williams watching. After a volatile meeting between Goodman, his mother, Chava, Williams and Terps assistant Billy Hahn in September, Goodman decided to give up the scholarship rather than go someplace he wasn't wanted.
"Things just don't work the way you want them to in life sometimes, and you move on," said Goodman, who will play for Towson, a mid-major program. "I think I have moved on. I'm at the top of my game right now."
Goodman transferred to Takoma Academy, a Seventh-Day Adventist school down the street from College Park that didn't play on the Sabbath. He moved for his senior year to face better competition and to get away from a secluded, religious school that shunned his basketball success and all the outside attention it drew.
At Takoma, Goodman proved his 35 points a game against weak competition in Baltimore while somewhat bloated were no fluke. Goodman averaged 19 points, six rebounds and five assists in the Beltway League against big-time recruits like Georgia Tech shooting guard Marvin Lewis and St. John's center Mohammed Diakite, both from Montrose Christian.
"I think he chose the right level," said Montrose Christian coach Stu Vetter, who has coached many ACC stars, including North Carolina forward Jason Capel and former standouts like North Carolina's George Lynch and Wake Forest's Randolph Childress. "He's going somewhere where he will have the ability to play and compete right away. I'm not sure that would be the case in the ACC."
Tonight, Goodman will play alongside Lewis, Diakite and point guard Andre Collins, who verbally committed to Maryland. But the former Terps recruit insists he is not out to prove he belongs in the ACC or to prove his naysayers wrong.
"I don't know if [the Capital Classic] is about shutting anybody up or proving that I'm one of the best players in the world," said Goodman, who appeared happy to see Hahn at a practice session Sunday. "I'm just going to play my game and not worry about who's in the stands."
That's the type of attitude that carried Goodman through the recent trying times. He admitted he bought into the hype before learning the hard way.
Goodman was devastated when his lifelong dream of playing for Maryland ended ugly. However, he harbors no hard feeling for the Terps and still roots for them. And while his mother keeps a scrapbook of all the articles about her son, Goodman feels he developed a different kind of keepsake.
"I think it made me a stronger person," said Goodman, who had a short, good-natured conversation with Hahn after Sunday's practice. "You turn to your family a lot more. I can never thank my family enough. You turn to God more. It does hurt, but you have to stick with what got you there. I'm thrilled to play at Towson. I have always dreamed of playing college basketball. It's the same dream. It just changed a little bit."

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