Prep basketball: Sherrill signs with Charlotte
By Mike London
Forty-five burgers, a spread of Jersey Mike’s subs and shiploads of shrimp disappeared quickly Monday morning, but no one has ever accused West Rowan standout K.J. Sherrill of not being hungry enough.
Sherrill had plenty of help in West’s media center from a gathering that included family members, teammates, head coach Mike Gurley and Carolina Phenoms AAU coaches Larry Yon and Andre Archie.
Everyone came, as the current slang goes, to watch Sherrill “sign on the line” with Charlotte’s basketball program.
“Charlotte is big-time basketball in a major city, and Charlotte is a very big deal whether it’s a basketball player from West signing or a baseball player from East Rowan,” Gurley said. “If Charlotte’s not Big Four, then it’s at least 4.5.”Sherrill made official a verbal commitment he gave the 49ers in September.
“It’s an exciting day for me,” said Sherrill, who was decked out in the familiar green of the 49ers and plans to attend their game with Clemson on Saturday.
Shamari Spears ó a 22-year-old former Salisbury stud who transferred from Boston College ó is practicing but sitting out this season at Charlotte. He and Sherrill will have two seasons together.
If the 6-foot-7, 225-pound Sherrill had two more inches, every school in the country might have recruited him. His list of potential destinations was still long.
Georgia, Auburn, Xavier, East Carolina, UNC Wilmington, Western Carolina, College of Charleston and Chattanooga were all involved to some extent, but Sherrill’s final two were Winthrop and Charlotte.
Winthrop assistant coach Larry Dixon, who starred at North Rowan, made a strong pitch for the Eagles.
“Charlotte and Winthrop both have good programs and they’re both close by, and family is very big with me,” Sherrill said. “I wanted my family to see me play.”
Sherrill has attended several games at Charlotte. He likes coach Bobby Lutz and enjoys the atmosphere at Halton Arena.
“Hanging out with the players there is where I felt the most comfortable,” Sherrill said. “Watching them play, I really liked the pace.”
A factor in Sherrill’s decision was that Charlotte’s schedule beat Winthrop’s.
The 49ers fly in the 14-team Atlantic 10, which sent eight teams to March Madness or the NIT last spring. An A-10 itinerary calls for visits to St. Louis and Philadelphia and all points in between. Rhode Island, another A-10 outpost, gave Duke all it wanted at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
“I can’t emphasize enough this is big-time ball and K.J. is getting to play it 35 miles from his house,” Gurley said. “Some people aren’t registering this, but Charlotte is high-level Division I, and this is a major deal. K.J. is not settling for Charlotte, and Charlotte is not settling for K.J.
“Charlotte is getting a great young man who loves the game and who will rebound the basketball.”
Sherrill is a four-year varsity player for the Falcons.
A knee injury shortened his freshman year, but the cousin of former West legend Scooter Sherrill averaged 5.8 points a game and showed flashes.
He bumped his scoring average to 13.5 points as a sophomore on a 26-4 team.
As a junior, he demonstrated expanded range and was often West’s most reliable perimeter shooter as well as a dominating, shot-blocking force in the paint.
Up and down his first two seasons, Sherrill was consistent as a junior, scoring in double figures in 27 of West’s 28 games.
He produced a 34-point game at T.C. Roberson in the state playoffs and topped 20 points 11 times.
Lutz and his staff have always liked Sherrill, but they weren’t totally sold on him until last summer.
“We saw him play with his AAU team (Carolina Phenoms) in our building in early July, and he played well but not exceptional,” Lutz said. “But then we followed him down in Orlando, and he went up against ACC kids and Big East kids that were frankly rated much higher than he was, and we saw him raise his game to a higher level.
“That’s when we made the decision as a staff that he was a player we really wanted. He reminds us of Curtis Withers, who was a great player for us but never got the credit he deserved.”
The 6-8 Withers, who averaged 14.9 points per game in his Charlotte career, is now playing pro ball in Israel.
One of Charlotte’s starting forwards, Lamont Mack, is a senior, so Sherrill could compete for playing time as a freshman.
“K.J. is a 4-man, but in our 4-out, 1-in system, he’ll handle the ball just as much as the 3-man,” Lutz said. “And I can see Shamari and him playing at the same time because Shamari is such a strong low-post player.”
Gurley said Sherrill is stronger physically this season ó and it’s not like anyone bullied him last year.
He’s also full of confidence after his successful summer ó and yesterday’s signing feast.