Sterling Ledbetter: Making a Point

Maryland needs a backup point guard for John Gilchrist and they may not have to look more than 10 miles from the campus. Sterling Ledbetter played at Laurel High (Md.) before moving onto the junior college ranks at Allegheny Community College.

Steve Francis, Ryan Randle and Jamar Smith have all come down the recently paved road from Allegheny Community College to College Park. Can Sterling Ledbetter be next?

The Allegheny 6-foot-4, 195-pound sophomore point guard has Maryland among his top five choices. The former Laurel High (Md.) star, who grew up about 10 miles from the Maryland campus, could just be the Terps best option at filling the backup point guard spot next year; a void left by Andre Collins after his transfer from the school in early December.

Ledbetter is a quality defender and ballhandler that has stepped up on the offensive end this season after averaging 8.8 points per game and 8.3 assists last season for the 27-3 Trojans, who finished eighth in the final NJCAA poll. This year Ledbetter has worked on his scoring and through the first 16 games has stepped it up, increasingly looking for his own shot and averaging 16.4 points per game while shooting 40 percent from long distance. Allegheny is off to a 15-1 start this season and ranked 7th in this week's NJCAA poll.

Of course any point guard from Allegheny will be compared to Francis.

"We've had great point guards come through here, he's the closest thing to Steve Francis we've had," Allegheny coach Bob Kirk, who has sent 92 kids to the Division 1 ranks, said of his current floor leader. "Sterling can play, he's a high major, ACC-caliber guard with great size. ... similar size to John Gilchrest."

As any top talent these days, Ledbetter is no longer a secret. According to Kirk, Ledbetter already has several Division I offers. Maryland, Clemson, East Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina are in the hunt.

However, the Terps just may have the inside track.

``Any kid who grew up near University of Maryland, and for what they've accomplished, Maryland has to be a sentimental favorite," Kirk added. "Naturally it would be tough to beat Maryland."

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