From small beginnings at Dunbar High to stardom

From small beginnings at Dunbar High to stardom
July 24, 2013, 6:00 am

BOSTON — Before star-studded prep schools and AAU "dream teams" took over the high school basketball scene, the Dunbar Poets in Baltimore were a national high school basketball power in the 1980s.

And while Reggie Lewis went on to become the most accomplished member of the Dunbar basketball family, no one would have envisioned the impact he would made on both the college and pro levels.

Not only was Lewis not a star at Dunbar, he didn't even start.

"How the hell the coach of Northeastern knew Reggie Lewis had the talent is beyond me," Tim Dawson, a starter center on the 1981 and '82 Dunbar teams, told Slam magazine. "Because Reggie Lewis never really played."

But when the opportunity to make an impact presented itself, even back then he made the most of it.

A Christmas tournament in 1982 featured key players on the Dunbar squad getting in foul trouble, which afforded Lewis, and his ultra-quick first step to the basket, an opportunity to shine.

He would go on to be named to the tournament's first team.

You won't find Lewis' career numbers anywhere close to being among the best in Dunbar history. But make no mistake about it: Lewis is regarded as one of the best - if not the best - player to ever come out of this once-dominant basketball powerhouse.

"They haven't forgotten about him in Baltimore," said Bob Wade, his coach at Dunbar. "What he meant to this program, to this city, to the state of Maryland. I'm just so proud of all his accomplishments."

David Wingate was a former prep teammate of Lewis who went on to play at Georgetown and later spent 15 seasons in the NBA.

"Everybody is going to remember Reggie," Wingate said. "Reggie was one of the ones who was most successful in the NBA, out of our group in high school."

That group included Mugsy Bogues who ,at 5-foot-3, was the shortest player to ever play in the NBA.

"He had so much to give, just his presence," a teary-eyed Bogues told Comcast SportsNet. "He cared for everybody."

And while it has been 20 years since his death, Lewis' memory is alive and well in the hearts of so many.

"I'll miss him forever," said former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun who, then the head coach at Northeastern, signed Lewis out of Dunbar. "He was like a child of mine. We all have to deal with loss, but I'll always remember Reggie. I remember Reggie hitting game winners. I remember Reggie being drafted. I remember Reggie being captain of the Celtics. I remember so many positive, great things about Reggie that nothing in this world could ever take that away from him until the day I die."

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