Davie’s Absher still waiting
By Mike London
MOCKSVILLE ó A sign on a door in Davie coach Mike Absher’s office reads: Eat, sleep, play basketball.
Since fourth grade when he divorced soccer and married hoops, Mike’s older son has followed that motto.
Senior point guard Drew Absher wants to follow in his father’s footsteps ó and beyond. He aspires to become a college coach, but first he needs to become a college player.
Absher knows he’ll be playing next season, but that’s all he knows. He could be in uniform almost anywhere on the continent and at any level from NAIA to Division I.
“Recruiting on Drew is all across the board,” Mike said with a sigh.
The uncertainty lies in Absher’s 5-foot-10 frame and modest athleticism.
But he is is a basketball player ó competitive, shoots it deep, one of the top scorers in school history, understands the game like a coach.
More ballhandling responsibilities have fallen on Absher’s shoulder this season following the graduation of Eric Lowery. In an early January game at Eastern Randolph, Mike decided a change had to be made and moved his son to point guard full-time. Davie (5-14) has improved steadily since that time, and both Abshers are convinced the team can still make the playoffs.
Often double-teamed, Drew is averaging 16 points. That’s down a bit, but he’s also averaging six assists and three steals.
“Drew’s floor game has been tremendous,” Mike said.
Absher has scored 1,378 points while playing four years in the CPC against the bigger, stronger, quicker people West Forsyth, R.J. Reynolds and Mount Tabor have put on the floor ó and the top priority has always been to stop him.
“West Forsyth coach Mike Pennington told me, ‘Look, I know Drew’s size, but do college coaches not understand he’s the focal point of every defense and he’s still getting all those points in our league against 6-2 and 6-3 guys?’ ” Mike recalled. “I mean, yeah, I know all that, but it still helps to hear it from someone else.”
The dream school for Absher all along has been Holy Cross. He was one of 24 prospects invited to Holy Cross’ elite, late-June summer camp. He had a bad game, but then a good one.
“First game, I turned it over twice early, and got knocked flat on my face once,” Drew said. “After that, we went to dinner, took a shower and met the 1947 Holy Cross national champs. I’d have enjoyed that a whole lot more if I’d had a decent game. But then we played another game that night and I hit four 3s with the head coach (Ralph Willard) watching. Only thing was my recruiting guy wasn’t there. He was in the film room.”
The Abshers got an e-mail from Holy Cross last week ó the first contact in months. Drew still entertains hope he’ll play for Holy Cross in the Hart Center someday.
“Holy Cross is the ultimate dream for a kid like me because Holy Cross doesn’t care about your size,” Drew said. “All they care about it is how tough you play and how smart you play.”
Possibilities are almost endless.
Coaches saw Absher shoot the lights out when he joined the AAU Carolina Phenoms for their trip to the nationals in Orlando last summer. With West Rowan’s 6-7 K.J. Sherrill attracting defenders and South Rowan’s Hunter Morrison penetrating and setting him up, Absher had a field day. In four games, he was 18-for-24 on 3-pointers.
When Mike Absher was making calls this fall he ran across a coach who witnessed that outburst.
“You shouldn’t be calling me ó I should be calling you,” a St. Francis coach told him. “I was in Orlando and I was the guy who went across the court at halftime to get Drew’s name out of the scorebook.”
But like Lafayette, St. Francis expressed concerns Absher would prove to be a defensive liability.
“At least, they were honest,” Mike said.
D-II Pfeiffer coach Dave Davis has made a recruiting pitch.
Heading to UNC-Wilmington as a preferred walk-on is a possibility. Absher is inspired by Darion Jeralds, a former West Forsyth player who walked on with the Seahawks and now plays major minutes.
Western Carolina and Campbell have recommended prep school and have told Absher he’d be on their list after an extra year allows his body to mature a little more.
A coach at Culver-Stockton, an NAIA school in Missouri, saw Absher hit seven 3s in a game and has sung his praises since. Culver-Stockton has made an offer and has the degree ó sports management ó Absher wants to earn.
Of late, the Merchant Marine Academy in New York, Skip Prosser’s alma mater, has become a serious option. It would mean an ultra- disciplined lifestyle for four years, but it also would mean an opportunity to play basketball for free at a school where tuition is $50,000 a year. Plus, a guaranteed, well-paying job after graduation.
It’s been a long road for the Abshers. Mike has realized since Drew was in fourth grade he’d be a basketball lifer. That’s the year the the Greensboro-based North Carolina Gaters AAU program cut Drew. But he still insisted on traveling to practice with the team all season.
As a fifth grader, he got a phone message at his elementary school informing him he’d made the Gaters. That was the first step.
Absher was headed for the Davie jayvees as a freshman, but when football stars Raeshon McNeil and ReShaun Parks opted not to play his father kept him on varsity. He debuted with four 3-pointers, and he’s been one of the area’s best since.
Drew’s bond with his father/coach has gotten stronger through the wins ó and the losses.
“That’s your own blood out there with you in the heat of the moment,” Drew said. “I’ve cherished every talk, every second of it.”
The good news for Davie basketball is that freshman jayvee Davis Absher has pretty decent genes.
“I haven’t grown at all since the eighth grade and Davis is as tall as I am now,” Drew said as he examined his brother. “I know I’m not gonna let you measure us.”