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Gallagher column: Salisbury's Abel finds a new home

Getting ready for another basketball season …Where is Brandon Abel going to play basketball next season?
Massanutten, honey.
Abel, who graduated from Salisbury this past spring as the sixth all-time scorer in the school’s illustrious history, has found a new home.
Abel has enrolled in Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va., about five hours from Salisbury.
Abel was headed to Heat Basketball Academy in Martinsville, Va., but a last-minute deal was struck with Massanutten.
Actually, it was a last-second deal. Salisbury coach Jason Causby took some graduate classes at UNC Charlotte and ran into Cedric Broadhurst, a former 49ers player.
Broadhurst coaches the team at Massanutten and got an earful about Abel from the Hornets coach.
It was good timing. Broadhurst had 12 players on his team, but a defection opened up a spot for Abel.
The school is located close to Harrisonburg, which is the home to James Madison.
Abel, a 6-foot-5 forward, averaged 13.6 points last season and led Salisbury to a 28-2 record. The two-time all-county performer is on campus and in class. His roommate is Concord’s Chance Rucker.
“He’ll get 24 hours of college credit,” Causby said. “He’ll be a sophomore and have four years to play.”
Massanutten plays Fork Union and Hargrave Military along with junior colleges and jayvee teams.
The school will have two North Carolina stops: Oct. 10 at Louisburg and Jan. 24 at nearby Pfeiffer to play Dave Davis’ jayvee Falcons.
Abel will give Broadhurst a versatile swingman. Abel hit double figures 58 times during his career and helped his Hornet teams win 47 games during the past two seasons.
“They took him sight unseen,” Causby said, adding this experience will be a good one for Abel.
“It will give him the stability and structure he needs personally,” Causby said. “He’ll develop some positive habits.”
Causby laughed when asked about Brandon Abel, the military man. He said Carson assistant Dadrian Cuthbertson, a former teammate of Causby’s at West Rowan, cut Abel’s hair.
“He shaved everything,” Causby said. “He looked really good when he left.”
Abel can’t wait to play basketball, but he was especially happy about one aspect of Massanutten.
“Brandon was excited when he heard it was co-ed,” Causby said with a smile.
Here’s something else for Abel’s family to be excited about. He’s getting a full ride, which is worth $24,900.
“They’re giving him every penny it costs,” Causby said.

Trivia Question: What Rowan County Hall of Famer also attended Massanutten?

While Abel got a new home, South Rowan star point guard Hunter Morrison has withdrawn from Davidson County Community College.
DCCC coach Matt Ridge had brought the high-scoring point guard to Lexington in Morrison’s attempt to get a Division I scholarship. He averaged 19 points as a senior for the Raiders and turned down some full rides to Division II schools.
One of those schools was Livingstone and that could be an option, according to Ridge and Morrison’s high school coach, John Davis.
With the addition of Morrison, Ridge thought he had three capable point guards. Morrison is the second to leave, meaning the Storm’s light-it-up offense will be directed by guards playing out of position.
Ridge said DeMarcus Phifer, a shooting guard from A.L. Brown, is still in school.

Bubbles Phifer at Salisbury and Darius Moose at Carson will be the early headliners in what promises to be another successful basketball season in Rowan County.
Local high schools get practice under way on Monday, Nov. 2.
Well, everywhere but West Rowan, maybe.
“We’re hoping we don’t start until Dec. 14,” Falcons coach Mike Gurley said.
In other words, Gurley would love to greet players like K.P. Parks, B.J. Sherrill and Dominique Noble after West has won a second straight 3A football title.

Trivia Answer: WSTP personality Howard Platt.

One new face that will surely make a difference is Olivia Rankin, a center who has surfaced at Salisbury after playing for East Rowan.
That means East coach Karen Garmon will lose Rankin as well as the graduated Katelynne Poole and Ashley Collins.
That’s a lot of points to replace.

And finally …
Whatever happened to Greg McKenzie?
McKenzie, whose story of leaving East Rowan has been well-documented, did not accept his reassignment to Knox Middle. For the first time in 20 years, he isn’t coaching at a school.
Instead, the most successful boys basketball coach in East Rowan history is holding basketball clinics for players of all ages at his Concord home.
How can he do that?
He has a paved regulation court in his backyard.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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