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Prep basketball: Absher makes choice

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
MOCKSVILLE ó It’s not easy picturing Davie gym rat Drew Absher in a blazer and tie, but that will be his everyday attire when he strolls to classes this fall in scenic New England.
Absher is headed to The Gunnery, a prep school tucked away in the Connecticut mountains.
The Gunnery is not a big-time basketball program, but it’s a big-time school. It costs $43,500 annually. Fortunately, Absher is a good enough basketball player that most of his expenses will be paid for.
Recruiting on Absher, 5-10, 162, and the oldest son of Davie’s boys basketball coach Mike Absher, was all over the place.
He has positives. He can shoot 3s, he’s smart academically and on the court, he handles the ball well enough and he understands the game like a coach’s son.
He was a three-time All-CPC performer in a quality 4A league, scored 1,439 points in his career and averaged 15 points, six assists and three steals as a senior while getting double-teamed often and playing the point for the first time.
The list of Absher’s negatives isn’t long. He’s not tall or physically imposing and he’ll have his hands full guarding bigger, more athletic players as his career moves forward.
Absher’s dream was ó still is, for that matter ó to play Division I ball in the Patriot League. Besides getting looks from mid-major Division I schools, he was recruited by D-IIs, including Pfeiffer and Lenoir-Rhyne, D-IIIs, junior colleges and just about everyone else who fields a basketball team.
Why the Gunnery?
“It’s small, like 350 kids, but I felt like it’s where I need to be,” Absher said. “I’ve got dreams that I’ll keep working on. This is my next step.”
Gunnery basketball coach Jon Russillo saw Absher play at a camp in New England last summer and was enthralled. He began recruiting Absher diligently. At that point, though, Absher was weighing every option ó except prep school.
But Absher had a hockey-playing cousin who benefited from prep school before going to Syracuse, and prep school started looking like a viable option by the end of his basketball season.
Absher’s dream school for more than a year was Holy Cross. He was somewhere on Holy Cross’ list of potential recruits, but they signed one of the point guards this spring they had rated higher.
“It was kinda crazy, getting late in the recruiting game when I called Coach Russillo at The Gunnery,” Absher said. “He told me, ‘Drew, it’s late, but it’s not too late, and we really want you. I’m moving you to the top of our list.’ ”
The paperwork got done, and now Absher has a home for next season and some peace of mind. Finally.
The Gunnery is such a small place he’s also planning to participate in cross country and golf next year.
The big plus is the location. Absher will be within easy driving distance of a number of his favorite college programs, and coaches will have a chance to see him practice and play.
He should add muscle and strength during the next year, and there’s at least a chance he’ll get a shot with one of those Patriot League programs down the road.
Absher, who graduated from Davie last week, stays busy. Today, he’ll be in the Triangle to accept a “Heart of a Champion” Award from the NCHSAA. That’s an honor based on athletics, character, sportsmanship and citizenship.
Twenty-seven high school athletes will be recognized. Two were asked to speak. He’s one of the two.
On Sunday, he’s headed to an elite camp at Bucknell, just one more chance to be seen by coaches.
He’ll also be seen by a plenty of coaches this summer when he plays for the West squad in the East-West All-Star Game in Greensboro.
He’ll be a teammate of West Rowan’s K.J. Sherrill and Mount Tabor’s Michael Grace and C.J. Harris, longtime friends and rivals.
As the first alternate, Absher joined the team’s final roster when Hopewell’s Brandyn Curry, one of the state’s top point guards, withdrew.
“With my last name starting with ‘A,’ I’m at the very top of the roster,” Absher said with his usual good humor. “Nobody will ever know I was an alternate.”
The West team will be coached by Howard West and East Rowan’s Greg McKenzie. Both have seen plenty of Absher. Alternate or not, they’re confident he’ll hold his own.
Not long after the All-Star Game, Absher will follow his dream to New England and see where that leads.

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