Notable Jewish athlete was UMD walk-on basketball player

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By Jackie Budko
For Mitzpeh

Alvin Lann is a high school track star who grew up in Washington, D.C. and graduated from McKinley High School in 1945.

His successful high school athletic career began when he placed second in the long jump at the D.C. Inter-High Track Championship as a freshman. His sophomore and junior year, he placed first in the long jump. He also placed first in the 120 high hurdles and second in the 100-yard dash in 1946 and 1947 respectively.

Lann also found success as a high school basketball player. He led his team to the D.C. Inter-High Championship his senior year and to a victory in the Star Tournament over private city schools. Washington, D.C. coaches selected Lann as co-captain of the Coaches All-High First Team for basketball. He was also a wide receiver on McKinley’s football team.

Lann was offered a track scholarship to Notre Dame University. However, he enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in the Philippines where he was a second baseman on the baseball team and a guard on the basketball team.

After serving in the Navy, Lann attended this university where he was a walk-on basketball player. He played three seasons and was a starting point guard in the 1947 season.

Besides being elected to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington Sports Hall of Fame in 2016, he was elected to the Washington, D.C. Jocks Hall of Fame, which showcases local athletes from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

In the late 1940s, when Lann was playing for Maryland basketball, many students left college to serve in World War II, allowing players like Lann to have a starting position on the team.

This season, the university has a couple of walk-on basketball players: Travis Valmon and Reese Mona.

“I like that Maryland lets students try out even though they weren’t recruited for whatever reason,” said Alex Bernal, a junior microbiology major.

Cameron O’Hara, a junior criminology and criminal justice major, believes it’s in the best interest for the team to let students try out.

“It’s extra motivation for the player to perform better,” he said. “I think athletes perform better when they are the underdog.”

Yan Chen, a sophomore kinesiology major, disagrees. She believes the recruiting process serves a purpose.

“There are plenty of athletes being recruited out there, so I don’t understand how a team as good as Maryland can have empty roster spots,” Chen said.

To date, Mona has yet to see game action, but Valmon played in three games this season and scored a career high of four points against the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.

Both players lack of playing time doesn’t mean there isn’t more to be seen from them in the future. Who knows, maybe they could be the next walk-on-turned-starter like Lann.

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