East’s Poole headed to Brevard
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó East Rowan’s Katelynne Poole is a better player this season, and that’s been obvious from the opening tip of the opening game.
Poole, a 5-foot-8 shooting guard who has signed with Brevard, enjoyed two 20-point nights in her first three varsity seasons. As a senior, she’s averaging a county-high 20.3 points a game.
The 28 points Poole scored at Northwest Cabarrus on Dec. 5 lasted four days as her new career high. She scored 32 against West Iredell.
Rugged defensive teams Statesville and Salisbury stopped Poole, but she’s averaged 25.8 points a game against the four normal teams on East’s schedule.
Several things have factored into Poole taking a giant step from pretty good to very good. Peace of mind is at the top of the list.
Poole, who was inspired by watching former East star Maggie Rich as a youngster, tried for a long time to impress college coaches enough to earn a scholarship offer. She was like a struggling actress waiting to be discovered, but once that scholarship came in ó from new Brevard coach Shannon Reid ó doubt about the future disappeared and Poole’s confidence jumped.
Now Poole is playing free and easy. Open looks are as automatic for her now as Minnesota Fats putting the 6-ball in the corner pocket.
“Now I just go out and play the game I love, and I know I’m going to keep playing it,” Poole said. “I don’t worry anymore.”
Poole stuck with the East varsity as freshman in 2005-06, Karen Garmon’s first full year as head coach.
Poole shot her way onto the all-county team as a sophomore with 15 double-figure games, and she would have done better except for an ankle injury.
She was East’s leading scorer with 11.5 points a game as a junior and repeated on the all-county team. She scored in double digits 18 times and had two great outings down the stretch as East dismantled tough Lake Norman in the NPC tournament and beat St. Stephens in the 3A playoffs.
Poole hit three 3-pointers against Lake Norman, five against St. Stephens.
Poole’s stock rose after Reid was announced as Brevard’s new coach.
Reid was a superb player at South Caldwell, where she tangled with West Rowan in a memorable 1999 sectional final. She was a 1,000-point scorer and CVAC Player of the Year at Pfeiffer.
Reid can appreciate a shooter who is athletic enough to get her shot off. That’s what she was, and she was third in the nation in 3-point percentage in 2003.
At various coaching stops that followed a pro career in Ireland, Reid maintained her ties to Stanly County and Rowan County.
Reid’s high school and college teammate, Amanda Joplin, is an East assistant, and Reid knows Garmon well. Garmon played volleyball at Pfeiffer when Reid was a basketball star.
Reid’s assistant coach at Brevard is Thomasville native Terrence Baxter, who was a fantastic point guard at Pfeiffer. Baxter also knows this area.
Garmon sent Reid tape of Poole shortly after she settled in at Brevard. A 20-point outing against North Iredell made a favorable impression.
“Shannon valued our opinion, and when we sent her tape of last year’s North Iredell game, Shannon was like, ‘Wow, this kid looks great,’ ” Garmon said.
Reid got to watch Poole play on the Lady Phoenix Elite AAU team coached by former Wake Forest standout Delaney Rudd and liked the way Poole handled herself against bigger players with bigger reputations.
Poole held her own because she did a lot of improving between her junior and senior seasons. Her shot didn’t need much help, but she focused on shortcomings.
“My main focus was defense because I know that’s been my weakness and the reason I wasn’t getting many looks,” Poole said. “I got better, and it helped me get where I wanted to go.”
In October, Poole was named one of the top 50 prospects in the Hoops and Dreams Showcase.
“Katelynne was able to compete with great players when we saw her in AAU,” Reid said. “We’d also seen good things from her on film, and we decided to take a chance and offer her early. We’re glad we did. She’s off to a great start.”
After visiting Brevard, Poole was ready to sign. Academics were an asset, not an obstacle. She has a 4.2 GPA and is in the top 10 percent of her senior class.
Reid also landed North Stanly’s Alexis Atkins and Tempestt Mack in the early signing period.
Brevard is now competing in the fast-paced South Atlantic Conference after years in NAIA. Reid candidly admits she inherited a roster built for NAIA competition, not Division II.
“We’ve got lots of spot shooters, but we’ve got to get more athletic to compete,” she said. “The North Stanly girls are good athletes, and Katelynne is pretty athletic. She can get her shot off, and she can put the ball on the floor. Katelynne is going to have to work on her defense, but that’s true of every high school player moving to the college level.”
A 500-pound gorilla came off Poole’s shoulders when she signed, and with security has come confidence that every open shot is going in.
She’s also defending better and leading better. Instead of having sporadic good games, it’s a surprise now when she doesn’t shine.
“Katelynne’s always been bright, but there’s more maturity now and a better understanding of what she needs to do for us to win,” Garmon said. “On offense, she has unbelievable moves and she’s pushing the ball better. On defense, she’s gained knowledge. She’s learned to push people to their weak side, and she’s learned to give that extra-quick person more space.”
Poole is excited because the SAC is a quality league.
She’ll have a chance to play in front of her family and friends against schools such as Catawba, Wingate and Lenoir-Rhyne, and she’ll have a chance to compete for immediate playing time with a building program.
“She definitely deserves that scholarship,” Garmon said. “She works harder than anyone I’ve ever coached.”