- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
D-II St. Michael’s investing in Bonds; two North Point seniors already have college futures mapped
By DALLAS COGLE
Ever since Marquis Wright emerged onto the scene for the North Point Eagles as an impact player with ice water in his veins during his sophomore year, making a huge splash — literally of the net from long distance — during a thrilling January contest of that 2010-11 season by exploding for 19 second-half points behind five three-pointers to carry his club to a four-point win over a formidable La Plata team, the star point guard has continually constructed a resume of groundbreaking accomplishments.
Just a sophomore, Wright played an integral part in North Point’s Class 4A state title campaign — the first such Maryland crown for a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference program since 1972 — while leading the Eagles to their first perfect season and first league and East Region crowns.
And last year, Wright spearheaded North Point to its first repeat of the SMAC and regional crowns en route to a second straight state appearance, while claiming SMAC Most Outstanding Player honors and a first-team All-County selection.
Now entering his senior season, which tips off Friday at La Plata, Wright has already provided an encore.
The highly talented standout has become the first player in North Point history to sign with an NCAA Division I college program.
Wright officially inked his name on Nov. 15 to a full ride with Loyola University of Maryland, located in Baltimore, where he will suit up for a Greyhounds outfit that won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last year to a clinch a berth into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed.
It was Loyola’s second trip to the Big Dance as a program.
“It’s a big deal, the first one coming out [of North Point to sign with a Division I college]. Everybody’s excited, I’m excited,” said Wright, whose team-first mentality is always quick to point out the contributions of others while never reveling in his own spotlight. “There could’ve been more [North Point players to sign Division I] earlier. Hopefully, there’s another one coming out [of our program to play] D-I.”
North Point is still a relatively young school, opening its doors in 2005, but an array of major talent has already come through the Eagles ranks before Wright’s signing.
“We’re eight years old, six years of varsity [as a program],” North Point head coach Jimmy Ball said. “We’ve had some good players come through here, not anyone quite of [Wright’s] stature.”
Ball indicated that North Point is 57-6 during Wright’s first three seasons as a fixture on the varsity team since being called up from junior varsity his freshman year with 10 games remaining in that regular season.
“He was very reluctant to come up to varsity three years ago. We almost had to beg the kid to come up,” Ball added. “We had to convince him that we really didn’t have anyone up here [on varsity] that could handle the ball and run the team like him. He thought about it, talked about it with his parents [and the rest] is history.
“He was very respectful of the seniors that were here [when he was a sophomore], even last year. Guess what, he can’t say that anymore because he’s a senior and this is his team.”
Though the quick-dribbling, sharp-shooting Wright has silky-smooth ability to play for a Division I college in a major conference, there was only one other serious recruiting contender for his skills and that was Jacksonville University in Florida.
“Loyola has a good campus, great in academics and a great coaching staff,” added Wright, now 6-foot-1 after growing in height and muscle during the offseason. “For right now, [Loyola] is where I fit in most and they play [North Point’s] type of basketball.”
Ball added, “He had the ability to go wherever he wanted [to play in college]. The decision came down to him and his family, and he did what was best for them. [Loyola] is a pretty good program. Our job is to have prepared him to be successful at the next level. I think he can do very well there.”
Winning the state title two years ago, Wright noted, put North Point and himself on the basketball map for college scouts. Wright held his own and then some in that state title game against YouTube sensation guard Aquille Carr of Baltimore powerhouse Patterson.
Thriving on a variety of competitive teams outside of high school, which includes the AAU circuit, assisted Wright in landing with the top level of college basketball.
“I was four years old and my father would never let me play [in a rec league] because you had to be five,” Wright reminisced with a smile. “I knew I could play with them [as a four year old], and he knew I could play with them. So as I got older, I knew I could play with older people.”
His father, Walt, is also an assistant coach for his AAU team.
Bonds headed to D-II
Also celebrating Nov. 15’s signing day was North Point senior forward Matt Bonds, who officially landed with NCAA Division II St. Michael’s College in Vermont.
Bonds and Wright comprise a talented senior class for North Point that has the program among the elite contenders in the state to win its second 4A title in three years.
There were a handful of other Division II colleges interested in Bonds’ skills, while he also received some looks from scouts representing Division I programs like University of Maryland Baltimore County before ultimately settling on St. Michael’s.
“When I went up to St. Michael’s and I saw the campus and saw the team and how they ran their offense, and how they just took care of their basketball players and how they were a family, it reminded me of North Point and how the community accepted the team,” said Bonds, a second-team All-County selection last year. “It was just a perfect fit for me. I could’ve gone Division I, but Division II is the best fit for me. I’m playing right away and get to make a big impact as soon as I step on the floor my freshman year. I’m really excited.”
He added, not surprised to be arriving at the college-signing table with a full ride to play basketball, “I expected it because of the work I put in. If you daily go out and put in work, the benefits are going to come.”
Bonds went from playing in rec leagues as a youngster to playing AAU ball for the first time his freshman year in high school, which is later than normal for most college recruits.
“I know this [St. Michael’s] team is on the rise, and I want to be a part of it,” he added.
St. Michael’s New England location is especially advantageous for Bonds’ family given they are avid skiers and snowboarders. They look forward to the snowy conditions of Vermont.
The recruiting attention surrounding Bonds took off when he attended the Hoop Group skills camp at Albright College in Pennsylvania during the summer.
“We knew he would get something [in terms of a college offer] but not this soon,” Ball said. “It’s awesome to have two guys you know that have worked and dedicated themselves to further their careers at the next levels.”
The North Point frontman added of Bonds, “I love Matt’s game. He works hard. He’s rough inside, but also he’s got a nice touch from the outside. He developed [the outside touch] in the summer. It’s huge he got a lot of confidence. His coming-out party was this summer [at Hoop Group], which is invitational only.”
Ball also noted that his players’ participation in the DeMatha summer league was a major deal to their development, too.