Wilt & Sheed

Baltimore Sun
October 5, 1995

Let there be no misunderstanding about that. Throughout his career, Rasheed Wallace has always been a winner.

In his hometown of Philadelphia, where he was touted as the best big man produced in that city since Wilt Chamberlain, Wallace became a high school starter as a freshman only after a teammate was shot. He wound up leading Simon Gratz High School to a 110-9 record and two mythical national championships.

"The way I see it is this: Back in the '20s, they had Goose Tatum," said Bill Ellerbee, Wallace's high school coach. "Then it took the Good Lord 35 years to come up with Wilt Chamberlain.

"Then it took another 35 years to come up with Rasheed Wallace."

Good Lord! Rasheed Wallace and Wilt Chamberlain in the same paragraph, a paragraph that doesn't include Kareem, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille?

Can Wallace carry that anvil-like pressure without crumbling?

He prefers to be the first Rasheed Wallace, not the next Wilt. At 6-11, Wallace has the size to play center, but also has the perimeter skills to play big forward.

Julian Rubinstein writes in the Washington Post that Rasheed Wallace , a 6-foot-11 senior at Gratz High in Philadelphia, is considered the best of more than 10,000 high school basketball players in America.

"Comparisons have inevitably been made to (Wilt) Chamberlain because of their common roots," Rubinstein writes. "But Wallace already has a better all-around game than his Hall of Fame predecessor, known best as a prolific scorer and rebounder."

Somehow, Wallace didn't evoke memories of Chamberlain last night in the Charm City Classic. He missed his first six shots -- two were air balls -- before finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds in a 60-46 victory.

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