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Local stars gunning for national AAU title

Team Suncoast is loaded with the county's best players as it travels to Lake Buena Vista for the tournament.

By PETE YOUNG

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000


One last stab at glory. The final roundup for a shot at a national title. The last hurrah.

That's what Team Suncoast is aiming for at the boys 19-under AAU national championships in Lake Buena Vista beginning Monday and running through Saturday. The star-studded collection of recent Pinellas County high school graduates will unite one final time -- and try to win a national title -- before going their separate ways to college.

All except one.

Erroyl Bing, the two-time Times Pinellas player of the year who starts school Aug. 16 at East Carolina, is recovering from mononucleosis and will not play.

Bing, who also had strep throat and was in the hospital for five days earlier this month, had been told by his doctor to avoid physical activity until the second week of August.

He was so eager to play, however, that he went back to the doctor Thursday to plead his case.

"I just got the verdict. I can't play," Bing said Thursday. "I've got to sit out a little longer. It's going to be hard for me to watch."

Last year's national tournament was agonizing for Team Suncoast. Its two losses came on three-point buzzer-beaters as the team settled for 10th place in the 17-under division. (There is no 18-under division). "On one of (the winning shots), Jimmy (Baxter) was running at the kid and had a hand right in his face, and he buried it," coach Phil Price said. "And on the other, Earnest (Crumbley) knocked the ball away from their point guard, and it went right to a kid who did a catch-and-shoot at the buzzer."

Price, the Largo coach, and Dixie Hollins coach Tom Topping are the Team Suncoast coaches.

In addition to Crumbley, a point guard and Lakewood graduate who is bound for Florida Atlantic, and Baxter, a small forward and Boca Ciega graduate who will play for South Florida, the rest of the players are: Josh Bodden (Dunedin, Central Florida), Ron Brown (Lakewood, North Carolina Wesleyan), Chris Campbell (Largo, North Carolina Wesleyan), Dan Dreaden (Largo, Florida Tech), Jason Helms (Clearwater, West Florida), Brian Myrie (Largo), Sharrod McCree (Boca Ciega, Eckerd) and Reque Newsome (Dixie Hollins, Central Florida CC).

Baxter and Newsome are taking summer classes at college and will shuttle back and forth between the tournament and school. McCree, a superb shooter, didn't play for Team Suncoast in the state tournament and will provide a boost.

Among the Times' first-team all-county selections from last season, only Bing won't be playing. The 6-foot-9 Bodden, 6-7 Dreaden and 6-8 Newsome will be counted on to pick up the slack in Bing's absence.

Who Team Suncoast will meet in pool play has yet to be determined. Price said the tournament organizers mistakenly bracketed Team Suncoast as the runners-up from Florida instead of as the state champions (Team Suncoast won the state tournament, also at Lake Buena Vista, in May). Price said the mistake might be corrected, so Team Suncoast could be moved to another pool.

As of now, the four other teams in its pool are from Georgia, Iowa, Puerto Rico and New Orleans.

"It's going to be a little tough without Erroyl. I just hope they play their butts off," Price said.

"This is quite a group of talent, the best I've ever coached, no doubt about it."

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