Prep Signing: Vanderslice recruits North star West to Louisburg
By Ronnie Gallagher
SPENCER — Oshon West was asked if his future college basketball coach Mark Vanderslice had informed him that he had won a state championship at West Rowan back in 1997.
The North Rowan star smiled and said, “He told me.”
OK, so the coach is one up on his pupil in high school. But West has even bigger goals for himself and Vanderslice once he arrives at Louisburg Junior College.
“We’re going to win the national championship two years in a row,” reported West.
No one doubts it can be done. In Vanderslice’s three seasons at Louisburg, the Hurricanes are 97-11 and has made the national tournament all three seasons. They were on the brink last year, finishing 35-2.
Vanderslice is always confident, especially when he lands someone as good as West.
“We recruit talent, coachability and character,” Vanderslice said during West’s signing party in the North Rowan library Wednesday. “Oshon possesses all of those characteristics. He’s a special blend of person and player.”
The 6-foot-3 West (“with shoes on, 6-4,” he notes) started his prep career at North before going a year to North Hills. He returned for his senior season and scored 32 points in the opener against a ranked 6A Georgia team, giving notice quickly who the county’s best player would be. He hit double figures in 27 of the team’s 31 games and led the county in scoring at 16.0. He was also the county player of the year.
Vanderslice likes West’s size at guard.
“In my three years of recruiting at Louisburg, Oshon is probably the most versatile player,” he said. “We play hand-off, ball-screen, continuity and motion. It’s a perfect fit for him. He can take the same size or bigger guards off the dribble and spread them out from 3-point range, but take smaller guards into the post.”
By the end of the Cavaliers’ 27-4 season, West had choices. Did he want to accept a Division II offer?
“I wanted to play Division I,” he said.
Mitchell agreed and had the perfect story for West about former Salisbury star Bobby Jackson.
Mitchell was an assistant at J.C. Smith in the early 90s and thought the Golden Bulls had wrapped up Jackson as a recruit. But Jackson did an about-face, choosing Western Nebraska Community College.
“Bobby told me, ‘Coach, this is the best move for me,’ ” Mitchell recalled. “It was. He went to the University of Minnesota and spent 13 years in the NBA.”
Mitchell thinks West can follow the same path by going to Louisburg.
“Oshon went back and forth with the way he should go,” Mitchell said. “But he wants to play Division I ball. He’s making the right choice.”
West said he even got advice from Jackson, still a beloved figure in Sacramento, where he won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
“He helped me with my choice,” West said. “He told me it would be better to go to a junior college. Don’t settle.”
No one agreed with that more than his high school coach. Looking at West, Mitchell said, “Keep your hopes and dreams alive, Oshon, and you’ll end up in the exact same place as Bobby Jackson.”
But first things first.
There’s a couple of national championships West wants to win with that old West Rowan guy named Vanderslice.