WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.
— Conroy Baltimore is about to cement his legacy as one of Westchester’s most accomplished rebounders. But the Stepinac senior’s current success wasn’t always seen as a given.
Julian Wright can remember when Baltimore was still finding his way on the court and carving out a niche for himself. Wright, a senior forward for Stepinac, has been a teammate of Baltimore’s since their middle-school days playing for the Westchester Hawks AAU program.
Baltimore, bound for Lehigh next year, was always known to outhustle everyone else on the court. But it wasn’t until his athleticism caught up to his work ethic in high school that his rebounding prowess revealed itself.
“The end of freshman year,” Wright identifies as the moment he knew Baltimore had separated himself under the boards. “The varsity lacked a big man, and he was literally the tallest kid in the school. He was there almost for intimidation, but I guess he realized he was kind of good at this rebounding thing, so he just kind of stuck with it and got better and better.”
Baltimore was called up to varsity midway through his freshman season and has started ever since, giving him the opportunity to be the rare player who finishes his career with 1,000 rebounds. Baltimore is sitting at 995 after pulling down five boards in a 64-40 win over Cardinal Spellman on Friday. He’ll get his chance to make history next week against Mount St. Michael.
“It’s overwhelming to me, to be the first player in Stepinac history to get 1,000 rebounds,” Baltimore said. “I’m just trying to work towards it. Hopefully I can get it against Mount on Friday.”
Ask any of his teammates and coaches why Baltimore is so good at finding the ball off the rim and you’ll think you’re listening to an automated response.
“He just exemplifies working hard,” Stepinac coach Tim Philp said. “Everything he’s gotten, he deserves; his scholarship to Lehigh, 1,000 rebounds, hopefully he’ll get 1,000 points. He deserves everything he gets. He works very, very hard. His timing is very good, but he just works very hard. He never takes a possession off. He brings energy; he never takes anything for granted. Even in practice; and how he practices carries over to the games.”
“He just works hard and goes after it,” Wright said. “Some people don’t. It’s not even a talent for most people; he just wants it more than those people.”
What Baltimore lacks in flash and outspokenness, he more than compensates for in sheer desire.
“I take pride in my rebounding,” he said. “If I don’t rebound, I take it upon myself, you know who else is going rebound? So I just try to go after every one I can get.”
“He just has an impeccable knack for timing,” Philp said. “Some guys love shooting it, some guys love to dribble, some guys love to play defense. He’s not a good rebounder, he’s a great rebounder. It’s like a lost art. He’s also a great defender. Those two aspects, which are the most important aspects of the game in my opinion, he does phenomenal. He’s going to help out Lehigh next year. They’re going to find him minutes.”
Even those at the losing end of the final scores and rebounding battles are quick to point out what makes Baltimore such a remarkable presence under the hoop.
“He’s a terrific kid,” Cardinal Spellman coach Fred Opper said. “As good of a basketball player as he is, he’s an even better kid, and that means more to me than being a basketball player. He’s a gentleman, he plays the game right way, and whatever comes to him, he deserves.”