Teammates At Pa. School Ready For Duke-UNC Rivalry
Posted May 17, 2006 10:37 a.m. EDT
MERION, Pa. — They share ideas in the classroom, share jokes in the cafeteria, and share the ball on the basketball court.
"The first time I saw them, I said, 'Wow' and my jaw must have hit the floor," said Tom Kossuth, the assistant basketball coach at Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pennsylvania.
"The two of them co-existed like no others, no other superstars," said Dan Dougherty, the boys' basketball coach.
But that's about to change. Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington are two of the top college basketball recruits in the country. Henderson is heading to play ball at Duke University in the fall, while Ellington will be playing at the University of North Carolina. The dynamic duo will soon be all business on the court.
"On the court, he'll be my enemy just like any other guy I was playing against," said Henderson.
"We play one-on-one all of the time, and it just gets so competitive," said Ellington. "We both want to win so bad. We're not nice to each other."
But off the court, they are nice. Ellington transferred to the small private school in Pennsylvania during his sophomore year.
"If (Gerald) wasn't here those first two weeks, I don't know what I would have done," said Ellington. "I'm not sure I would be at Episcopal now."
The pair put Episcopal Academy on the national basketball map.
"When you can see your school playing on ESPN, not just once, but twice, I think it says something about the caliber of your team, and we probably won't see a team like this for a long, long time," said Kossuth.
Both students have always dreamed of playing ball in the Tar Heel State, at Duke and UNC.
"I want to win a national championship with my teammates," said Henderson. "I've watched Duke win for so many years and I just want to really be a part of that."
Coaches who have watched them grow hope they will always be a part of the Episcopal Academy community and part of one another's lives. Doughtery says he plans to watch a lot of ACC basketball on television this coming season.
"I hope when they come back for their 10th reunion, their 20th reunion, they're two of the leaders of this class, and (I hope) that they both have enjoyed this friendship and they did not let the ACC spoil this friendship," said Dougherty.
"Our friendship is so good and we're so close to each other, a basketball rivalry is not going to come between us," said Ellington.
"I don't see it breaking up. It's just a little basketball," said Henderson.
But what happens when a little basketball turns into a face-to-face meeting in an ACC championship game?
"We're going to go at each other," said Ellington. "We're going for the win."
"Duke will probably win, you know," said Henderson. "I don't want to start anything now."