2009 All-Rowan County Basketball, Boys player of the Year K.J. Sherrill
By Ronnie Gallagher
South Rowan point guard Hunter Morrison can say he had the pleasure of competing with West Rowan’s K.J. Sherrill, the 2009 Rowan County Player of the Year, this past summer in AAU ball and the misfortune of competing against him during the high school season.
“It’s definitely a lot easier playing with him,” said a chuckling Morrison.
During the summer, Morrison drove and dished to the big fella. During high school, he might get his pass smacked back in his face by the 6-foot-7 Sherrill.
“When you’re on his team, he makes the game a lot easier,” Morrison said. “He made me look good because of the assists. But every time I’d shoot over him (in high school), or he’d block my shot, we’d say a couple of words back and forth. He was a good teammate, and he’s a good person.”
For the record, Sherrill scored 18 and 26 points in two routs of Morrison and the Raiders.
Sherrill, a four-year starter for West coach Mike Gurley, was the preseason pick to be player of the year by practically everyone. He knew he had to hold up his end of the bargain.
“People talked big about me, so I had to play big,” Sherrill said.
According to Gurley, the pressure came from having great expectations, being heavily recruited, making an early decision to commit to Charlotte and being the leader of a team that wasn’t at full strength until Christmas.
“I can’t say enough about how he prepared,” Gurley said.
Sherrill was certainly playing for the right coach. Gurley has leaned on big men his entire career ó from Bernard McIntosh and Marcus Caldwell at Lexington to Donte Minter, Junior Hairston and Phillip Williams at West.
“If you’re a big man, we’re going to get you the ball,” Gurley said. “Get it inside and you put pressure on the other team. It frees the perimeter up to make plays around him.”
If Sherrill wasn’t getting the ball enough, Gurley would bellow from the sidelines to his Falcons, “We’ve got a pretty good guy under the basket! His name’s K.J. Sherrill!”
When Sherrill got it, he usually produced.
He scored at least 20 points in 16 of 29 games. He had a three-game stretch against Lake Norman, South Rowan and Mooresville in which he scored 28, 26 and 29 points.
He finished with a 19.1 average and a career total of 1,596 points.
“I think I could’ve done better,” Sherrill said.
Daniel Plummer, East Rowan’s leading scorer, tried to guard Sherrill twice. The Mustangs gave up 20 points each time, which is actually pretty good defense.
“I always looked forward to playing him,” Plummer said. “He was awesome.”
Plummer thinks Sherrill is the perfect player of the year because of respect.
“He’s a great guy on and off the court,” Plummer said.
As a coach, you’d just shake your head when game-planning. Just ask Carson’s Brian Perry.
“You understand K.J.’s going to change shots,” the former West assistant said. “You understand he’s going to get putbacks. You understand he’s a monster down low. You just try to do a good job on him. We never really did.”
West made the sectional final and finished 25-4.
“It was a great season,” Gurley said, “and I really believe K.J. was the reason.”