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The recruiting war over Albert King (above), one of the most sought-after high school stars ever, ended with a whimper, not a bang. Maryland won not because of brilliant strategy, but by being around when King tired of all the fuss. He made his highly unemotional announcement on June 8 at Andre's Caterers in Brooklyn.
King had been on the verge of going to Arizona State. Coach Ned Wulk had flown to New York from Tempe to join an assistant, who had been babysitting King for 10 days, and was in the stands at an all-star game the night King was to announce his choice. King scored 38 points and was named the game's MVP that night, but one thing he did not do was publicly commit himself to ASU. Wulk, whose approach had been low-key, was furious.
Maryland specializes in the hard sell. It sent King zillions of letters, mailed his birthday cards on time and gave him a Muhammad Ali autograph. After watching Albert play in a shabby little gym in Brooklyn, seeing him on the floor of a vast arena will be a treat for his girl friend Jerina and his Brooklyn pal Winston Karim, who will make the drive to College Park for most of Maryland's home games. And for King the college game represents a welcome change from his high school days when opponents put three men on him and teammates tended to catch his deft passes with their faces.
Yet Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell does have a problem with his new forward that was evident when the Terps went through six 10-minute scrimmages the other day.
"What are the upperclassmen going to think if I try to score all the points?" said King.
"You let me worry about that," said Driesell.
Neither King nor Driesell should worry. The other Terps can and will put the ball in the basket. Guards Billy Bryant and Jo Jo Hunter seem capable of doubling their scoring averages, and the guys up front, Lawrence Boston, Larry Gibson and John Bilney, are all .500-plus shooters.
They should offer Maryland fans sufficient entertainment until King overcomes his reluctance to shoot. "Oh, I was disappointed in him at first," says a member of the Terrapin Club. "He didn't seem to do enough. But seeing more of him, I think we're going to like him here."
Now there's a safe bet.