Conroy Baltimore commits to Lehigh

Posted Tuesday, October 05, 2010 by

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Tue Oct 5, 2010 12:00 AM

Basketball: Stepinac's Baltimore commits to Lehigh

Josh Thomson


By NCAA rules, Conroy Baltimore still had four official visits to take, and schools such as Wagner, Saint Peter's and New Hampshire were hotly recruiting him. He even had more than a month left before the November signing date, leaving plenty of time for courting.

Stepinac's Conroy Baltimore.

The Stepinac senior knew all this during his visit over the weekend to Lehigh. But after the experience there and everything he learned about the school, Baltimore couldn't wait.

"I was going to take officials to those schools, but once I got to Lehigh I didn't want to see anything else," the 6-foot-5 forward said.

So Baltimore gave his oral commitment to Lehigh at breakfast on Sunday morning, making him the third Stepinac basketball player in four years to commit to a Division I program, joining Melquan Bolding (Fairleigh Dickinson) and Tony Taylor (George Washington).

Baltimore, a first-team Journal News all-star last season, said Lehigh made a compelling case for a number of reasons. Of the four schools he was strongly considering, it was the strongest academically. Ninety percent of players in the program have graduated.

"That was impressive," he said. "I felt I should take advantage of it."

Baltimore also played pickup basketball on Saturday with players on the team and felt an immediate kinship with them.

"They have my personality," he said. "They work hard. They don't want to do anything other than expect to get better and win, and I really liked that."

Baltimore won at a high level for the Crusaders as a junior. He averaged 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game to lead Stepinac to its first CHSAA A Division championship since 1993.

Despite his experience as a post player in high school, Baltimore said Lehigh expects him to play small forward in college.


Baltimore wastes no time finding fit at Lehigh 10.06.10

When Conroy Baltimore visited Lehigh over the weekend, his options were numerous. And the Stepinac senior intended to take advantage of them, honestly. Only when he spent a couple days at Lehigh and learned more about the school, Baltimore jumped at the opportunity to both attend class and play basketball at the Patriot League school.

In fact, Baltimore made his decision on the spot. After talking to his parents Saturday, Baltimore committed to Lehigh at breakfast with the coaches Sunday morning. In doing so, he passed up an opportunity to make official visits to Wagner, Saint Peter’s and New Hampshire. When I asked why, he kept it simple.

“I was going to take officials to those schools, but once I got to Lehigh I didn’t want to see anything else,” the 6-foot-5 forward said.

You can read the rest of my story here. But here are a few things you should know about Baltimore:

1. He is serious about this. In a 10-minute conversation with him, it was clear this was a mature, well thought out decision. He mentioned the program’s graduation rate and the school’s success in landing graduates jobs within the first six months.

2. That maturity carries over to the court. Even before the last two days, I’d never heard Stepinac coach Tim Philp mention Baltimore without praising what kind of person he was or mentioning his work ethic. Indeed, it was Baltimore who felt comfortable with the players at Lehigh because they (the college players) impressed him (the high school recruit) with their commitment. “They have my personality,” he said. “They work hard. They don’t want to do anything other than expect to get better and win, and I really liked that.”

3. He made a decision not enough student-athletes make: He looked at the schools on his list and chose the college he believed had the best academic reputation. “That was impressive,” he said. “I felt I should take advantage of it.”

What will be interesting for Baltimore as a player is what position he plays at the next level. He’s the area’s best returning rebounder and shot blocker but will need to develop more skills away from the rim in college. Baltimore told me the coaching staff looks at him as a “three,” and there’s no question he can really thrive there as a defender and rebounder. But with his length — and based on what I’ve seen against high level players the last six or seven months — Baltimore could even thrive as an undersized post player. He can certainly rebound and defend against taller opponents. No doubt.