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Storm's Pelle learning to love a 'Parade'

March 31, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Stephane Pelle admits he doesn't really fully grasp the importance of the moment.

People around the Mercersburg Academy senior seem to show more emotion about Pelle's fourth-team selection to Parade Magazine's 43rd annual All-American High School Boys Basketball Team on Sunday.

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But Pelle isn't entirely sure how to feel about it all. Part of the 6-foot-8 forward is surprised. Part of him feels rewarded. Another part of him is just realizing what the excitement is all about.

"I'm surprised ... who wouldn't be," Pelle said. "But I would have really been shocked if I had won this last year. This year, I've worked hard and played tough competition. It means a lot, but this isn't the end. It's the beginning for me."

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Pelle was born in the African nation of Cameroon, but his family now lives in Kenya. He had a little trouble grasping what prestige is linked with the honor.

"I told him that this is one of the top three All-American teams he could be named to," Mercersburg coach Tony Tucker said. "But he doesn't understand the history. He isn't from this country to really know it."

Four years ago, Parade's honor could have just as easily been mistaken for a mention on a Dean's List or winning the Hobie Baker Award, for that matter.

"When I first got here, I didn't know the difference between hockey and basketball," Pelle said. "I don't use basketball to be seen. I use it to help me get my education and to help my family."

But Pelle learned quickly. He came to Mercersburg after transferring from Episcopal in Alexandria, Va., where he was coached by former Georgetown star Fred Brown. When Brown decided to resign, he dispersed his players to different schools, sending Pelle to Pennsylvania.

Tucker was immediately impressed with Pelle's raw talent.

"When he came here, I knew he would be a player," Tucker said. "He wasn't there yet, but he had footwork and a work ethic. It was just a matter of time before he rose to the top. And it is all a credit to his hard work."

Pelle played well enough as a junior to be noticed, signing early to play at Colorado next year. He topped off his high school careeer as one of the area's leading scorer, averaging 19.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. And he's only begun.

"He'e only been playing since ninth grade ... he has so much more to learn," Tucker said. "I give it two-three years and we'll all be looking back to this because Stephane will have a prominent name as a college athlete."

That's all well and good, but Pelle isn't dwelling on his basketball future. Instead, he wants to make sure he earns a degree in biochemistry.

"My dad is the only one in our family with a job," Pelle said. "I don't want to let the family down, first my mother and then my father. But if it weren't for basketball and coach Brown, I'd be working to get A-plus grades to get into college."

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