Introducing Mr. Briscoe

By Kevin Wilson
Updated: March 12, 2008

MARYLAND — Despite the hardships he has faced, Donte Briscoe, a multi-talented scholar at Fairmont Heights High will be known for more than sports in the years to come.

Count on it.

At age two, his father, Scottie died. Linda Briscoe, a single parent, had to nurture — Delonte Kenneth Briscoe, 17, Myeshia Briscoe, a former cheerleader, 18, Tyeshia Briscoe, 22, a shooting guard for Garrett Community College, and Donte, 17.

The Seat Pleasant Activity Center has saved countless lives from prison, gang violence and poisonous substances. Taras Brown, a facility aide, introduced him to the hoop game, at age six.

During the summer months, he would hone his skills eight to nine hours per day. Donte played for the Prince George’s Jaguars for three years. Surprisingly, he stopped to develop his game.

Recognized by a D.C. Blue Devils scout during a halftime dunking contest, in which he won, Donte represented the AAU team for one year under Coach Robert Jackson.

On a scheduled game day, he received indirectly an athletic award from presenter Kevin Durant, the Seattle Supersonics rookie for participating in the Hoops For Peace Tournament in Annapolis, Maryland. He and Durant are cohorts.

Striving to get better, Donte earned the 2007 All Defensive Player with the Blue Devils. His friends encouraged him to challenge Beasley, the freshman sensation at Kansas State in a dunking battle.

Wearing a pair of flip flops, the 6-foot-9 potential NBA first round pick, went to his SUV and grabbed his sneakers. Donte demonstrated a windmill dunk. “That’s good to be short, but that’s not nothing,” he remembers Beasley saying.

Beasley displayed a tomahawk dunk to dazzle the audience and won. “You have a lot of heart, and never take your opponents for granted, always work hard,” Beasley told Briscoe.

Early on, his sister, Tyeshia, would beat him playing one on one. In the ninth grade, standing 5-foot-7, he got cut at Fairmont Heights. He returned to his mentor, Taras Brown to practice, practice and practice, repetitively.

“He’s like a son to me,” says Brown, whose worked with kids for over 20 years. As a sophomore and junior, on junior varsity, Donte tallied 11 points per game, but this year, still growing at 6-foot-2, the four year honor roll student averaged 17 points per game.

“Donte’s a kid that will never quit, he got cut and kept on going, and he gets better every year,” recalls coach George Wake. Among the top five percent of the highest GPA’s at Fairmont Heights, Briscoe, also ranks eighth in the county as a golfer.

He broke the school’s record of the lowest golf score in the last 10 years. Dave Sharpless, the school’s athletic director, presented Briscoe with the 2007 Prince George’s County Fall Scholar Athlete of the Season Award.

To win, he penned an eye catching an essay titled, “What Do Athletics Do For Me?” If the Hornets had a baseball program, Donte said he would’ve acquired a scholarship. He throws a baseball 85 miles per hour. The foes in Zansbille, Ohio are witnesses.

“Any mother would want him as a son,” said Linda Briscoe.

Headed towards postseason play, Briscoe and the Hornets were on a run. Against Central High, on January 25., before halftime, he dunked over a Falcon opponent to give the Hornets a 38 -30 lead.

The senior blocked a shot with 53 seconds to go. Later, he passed the ball to a teammate underneath the hoop to seal the victory, 71-65. Overall, Briscoe tallied 16 points, nine assists, five steals and three blocks.

“The win was well deserved coming from a group of young men who function totally as a team, and I’m in awe of Donte, he’s an athlete to be reckon with, an outstanding scholar,” noted principal Peggy Nicholson.

In a thriller against 14th-ranked Largo High on February 1, the Hornets came from behind to win, 91-86. Briscoe ripped the nets for 21 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, six steals and two blocks.

Matching up with 6-foot-11 Maurice Sutton, he played unselfishly. “He’s a tremendous athlete, who does what he can do, nothing more or less, he’s the one that won it for them tonight,” says Largo head coach Lewis Howard.

During the playoffs, Briscoe desperately wanted his teammates to practice and play harder. In the 70-46 first round blowout win over Mt. Hebron, he scored 19 points, against Douglas Briscoe had 17 points, and the final game of his high school career, he registered 18 points against Gwynn Park, losing 67-59.

Gwynn Park coach Nate Hampton said, “Briscoe did a good job rebounding, he had a quiet offensive game, but their point guard, Duffy, impressed me with a lot of assist to Briscoe, but the Hornets were outmanned.”

Junior Khaalis Coppock-Bey, his best comrade wanted to extend Briscoe’s season, but unfortunately fell short. Donte tutors his grandson, Brian in basketball and counsels the youth during the summer, at his second home, the activity center.

He loves to read, write and equations. He knows that by playing on the collegiate level, that he’ll have to adjust to playing point guard or shooting guard, which he says, won’t be a problem.

He’s not ruling out an opportunity to attend prep school, or junior college, to hopefully play division one, someday. A defender’s nightmare, Brisoce awaits patiently to showcase his talent in the Prince George’s County-Montgomery County All-Star Hoop Game on March 28.

“It hasn’t been easy, but my family and I, we’re making it,” he says. He’ll forever remember Coach Wake’s philosophy, ” Work hard, team first.

Count on Briscoe doing just that!

Photos courtesy of Robert Eubanks