- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

About 10 NBA scouts watched from a corner of Maryland's ancient and tiny Ritchie Coliseum yesterday morning. Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause sat alone in an otherwise empty section of stands. They watched as high schooler Amare Stoudemire got the ball on the wing on a fastbreak, darted past a defender and effortlessly palmed the ball with his right hand before dropping a jarring one-handed slam.
Stoudemire is expected to be in this year's class of preps-to-pros when the NBA Draft takes place in June. The 6-foot-10 center from Orlando, Fla., was practicing for tonight's Jordan Brand Capital Classic at MCI Center. Stoudemire headlines a list of 12 McDonald's All-Americans who will play, including Maryland-bound Travis Garrison from DeMatha High School.
With Jordan Brand as the title sponsor for the first time, the 28-year old Classic has substantially elevated its star power from a regional game with a few of the nation's top players to one of the country's best all-star games. The "Jordan" of course, is Michael, who won six NBA championships for Krause's Bulls.
"We think this could be on the same level as [the McDonald's All-America Game]," said Jordan Brand president Larry Miller, comparing this game to the nation's premier prep all-star event. "With our involvement and Michael's involvement, with the way we will be able to attract some of the top kids from around the country, we think this game can definitely be on the level with that game. That's kind of our plan."
Tonight's format will have the traditional United States All-Stars against the Capital All-Stars in the preliminary game. The "national" game will have players from as far away as California, Oregon, Texas and Canada. The showcase will have three Duke signees, led by North Carolina Player of the Year Shavlik Randolph, and an array of recruits headed for top leagues like the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-10.
Maryland will have four incoming freshmen on display, two in each game. Virginia Beach point guard John Gilchrist will be on the same team as Garrison in the second game, with 6-7 Maine power forward Nik Caner-Medley and Fairmont Heights shooting guard Chris McCray in the preliminary. The future Terps added a new teammate yesterday when junior college All-American Jamar Smith, a 6-9 forward from Allegany College, signed a letter of intent.
Smith comes to Maryland after averaging 17.9 points and 13.0 rebounds while leading Allegany to a 32-4 record and Maryland junior college title. "He can play inside or outside" Allegany coach Bob Kirk said. "He's an inside and outside player. He can do the things that Terence Morris did but is much more intense."
Said Gilchrist, who averaged 25 points and 6.6 assists for Salem last season: "It's an awesome class, We're going to keep the [Maryland] tradition rolling. Jamar is an athlete. He may have to fill in if [Chris Wilcox goes to the NBA]. Travis is another big inside presence that can step out and play away from the basket. He shoots very well. McCray plays like Juan Dixon. He can shoot."
While the future Terps look forward to the challenges of the ACC, NBA scouts will be eyeing Stoudemire, who could make MCI Center a regular stop in his next league.
"If I'm in the top 10 picks, I'll go in the draft," said Stoudemire, who has a fallback plan of attending school at Memphis. In all likelihood, it won't be needed.

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