Prep Basketball: West Rowan guard Kimber signs with hometown Livingstone
By Ronnie Gallagher
Kaleb Kimber may just be that trailblazer James Stinson has been looking for.
Going into his sixth season as Livingstone’s men’s basketball coach, Stinson signed the West Rowan guard recently. It is the first local player to suit up for the Blue Bears during his tenure.
“We’re really trying to recruit the area,” Stinson said. “This is an opportunity to to get a few more. We recruit hard. Our president is seeing that.”
Kimber averaged 10 points as a senior for West’s 26-4 sectional finalist. His best game was a 28-point effort against Northwest Cabarrus. He hopes to step it up a notch for his new team.
“Talking to the coaches, they made me feel comfortable and welcome,” he said. “I like how they do things.”
Stinson and Kimber are joined in their excitement by West Rowan coach Mike Gurley. He has two reasons to cheer ó he loves Kimber and Stinson is a former high school teammate of Gurley’s at North Mecklenburg.
Gurley is also excited that a local star is staying home.
“Kaleb’s the first Salisbury kid since forever who’s going to suit up for the Blue Bears,” Gurley beamed. “This gives Kaleb the opportunity not to try and establish local hero status, but to validate the idea that you can go to Livingstone, get a quality education and play quality basketball in the CIAA.”
Kimber becomes the fourth of Gurley’s Falcons to play in the CIAA. Antwan House saw time at Fayetteville State, while Jamel Carpenter is headed there next year. Darren Ramsey was a four-year player at J.C. Smith for Steve Joyner.
“Maybe Kaleb will show people around the community that Livingstone is a viable option,” Gurley said. “Maybe he is the start of a wave of players.”
Kimber has the potential to be one of the most exciting guards in the CIAA before he’s through. The 5-foot-10 high-flyer has thrown down some of the more famous dunks in West Rowan lore.
Gurley remembers the most famous, a slam against Hickory in the 2008 3A playoffs.
Kimber’s reaction was like all of his slams. He just looked toward his bench and grinned.
“A lot of kids might go with the machismo,” Gurley said. “Kaleb would just smile because he was genuinely excited about what he just did. Everybody on our bench would die laughing because we knew he was having fun.”
“The dunks gave the team motivation,” Kimber said.
Kimber also opened eyes with the form on his jumper. He lofted many shots over larger opponents due an impressive vertical leap.
“I think he has a beautiful jump shot,” Gurley said. “He’s athletic and he knows how to play. He can bring a lot of energy to James’ program.”
Stinson agrees, stating, “Kaleb will help with being a perimter threat,” adding Kimber will play both 2-guard and the point.
But what he really wants is a defensive presence.
“We try to keep people under 70 points,” Stinson said. “Kaleb is a good defender.”
“I take pride in holding people down,” he said.
Kimber has suffered a bit from a lingering back problem.
“If I do too much, it really really hurts,” he said. “A lot of coaches didn’t want me because of my back. But Livingstone came through. They have a trainer who will work with me.”
Gurley likes the fact Stinson is taking over for him as Kimber’s mentor.
“James is a great guy,” Gurley said. “His kids play hard for him. They understand the love, respect and time he puts in. They, in turn, try to give it back. And that’s what coaching is.”
Livingstone’s record for wins in a season is 17, during Stinson’s second season. The second most wins ó 14 ó came last year in a .500 year.
“We lost a lot of close games last year,” Stinson said. “We were hurt rebounding-wise.”
But he has players standing 6-8 and 6-9 joining 6-10 shot-blocker Keith Darden next season. With Kimber becoming another explosive guard, the West Rowan product sees more success on the way.
“There’s better things coming to Livingstone,” Kimber said. “And I want to be a part of that.”
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