2009-10 Basketball: Prep Notebook
From staff reports
Getting ready for another hoops season …You’ve got to give Lenoir-Rhyne coach John Lentz an ‘A’ for effort.
One of his recruiting targets this year is K.P. Parks.
Yeah, that K.P. Parks, the football star. The all-time leading career rusher in North Carolina history. The future Virginia running back.
Lentz saw Parks play basketball last summer and approached West Rowan coach Mike Gurley.
“So he’s a pretty good football player?” Lentz asked the Falcon mentor.
“When I explained that yes, he is a pretty good football player, John told me, ‘If that football thing doesn’t work out, tell him to give me a call,’ ” Gurley said.
Gurley wouldn’t be surprised if more coaches court the 5-foot-6 tailback-turned-point guard.
“He had a great summer,” Gurley said. “In all seriousness, John said he was the best point guard he saw all summer.”
As is the case with any player who is great in one sport, Parks was happy with the interest from the Lenoir-Rhyne coach.
“He was incredibly thrilled with that,” Gurley said. “To be great at something ó few people have experienced that. But to have somebody tell you that you’re very good in something else is uncharted territory.”
Five questions to ponder:1. Can Salisbury’s girls win a second straight 2A state title?
Why not? Yes, the Hornets lost Shi-Heria Shipp, De’Rya Wylie and Kia Rice to the college ranks, but Andrew Mitchell still has Bubbles Phifer, the Holmes twins and transfer center Olivia Rankin.
2. How good will the Carson boys be?The Cougars, coached by Brian Perry, are picked as the preseason favorite in the North Piedmont Conference. Darius Moose is the county’s top returning scorer. Nick Houston can shoot the lights out. Point guard is a strength with Brandon Ferrare. And Cody Clanton can match Houston’s outside prowess.
3. Who will win the Christmas tournament?No-brainer here. Salisbury in both games. The girls have won an unprecedented six straight. The boys should add to their school’s record 12 titles.
4. Who will be the most improved teams?Carson girls and North boys.
Carson is 4-67 in its three-season history. Expect that to gradually change. Brooke Misenheimer has some newcomers who can flat-out play this sport.
At North, Kelly Everhart has a talented freshman class that did nothing but win in middle school.
5. Who are the new coaches in the county?East Rowan welcomes Jim Lankford as its new boys coach. Most of his coaching was at A.C. Reynolds High in Asheville, and he’s coached college women’s teams.
South Rowan welcomes Jarrod Smith as its new girls coach. He piloted the South jayvees last season.
PRESEASON BOYS: The preseason all-county team consists of Salisbury’s Darien Rankin, Carson’s Moose and Houston, North’s Javon Hargrave and West’s Keshun Sherrill.
PRESEASON GIRLS: The preseason all-county team consists of Salisbury’s Phifer and Rankin, West Rowan’s Ayana Avery, South’s Kayla Morrow and North’s Symphony Roberts.
SCORING LEADERS: You may be surprised to know that West’s Parks is third on Rowan County’s all-time scoring list when it comes to active players. He’s scored 532 points to trail only Moose (1,229) and Rankin (639).
You may also be surprised to learn that West hulk Chris Smith, known for his muscles, not his shooting touch, ranks fourth with 351.
Rounding out the active top 10 are South’s B.J. Grant (298), Carson’s Houston (291), South’s John Davis (283), Salisbury’s John Knox (280), Carson’s Ferrare (258) and West’s Sherrill (257).
STAT TO REMEMBER: Gurley, who is only 43 years old, is just 24 wins from 400.
He always won big at Lexington before he came to West.
LUCKY 13: Gurley and A.L. Brown’s Shelwyn Klutz are entering their 13th seasons as head coaches at their respective schools.
They have been friends as well as colleagues for years, and their teams will play home-and-home this season the way they did from 1997-98 to 2004-05 when the Wonders were in the NPC.
Klutz owns a more than respectable 166 career wins at a football school, and he and Gurley would make an ideal fire-and-ice pairing to coach the East-West All-Star Game one of these years.
Uh, yes, Gurley would be the fire portion of that team.
“Gurley’s a great coach,” Klutz said. “I’d be proud to be his assistant any time.”
NEW RIVALS: With the NPC reduced from 10 to seven teams by realignment, the remaining NPC schools suddenly had six holes to fill on their schedule.
Nearby A.L. Brown was a logical choice to fill some of those vacancies. South always takes on the Wonders, but this season West and Carson will as well.
Salisbury isn’t playing Brown, but it is playing Northwest Cabarrus and Concord.
BREAKOUT SEASON: Salisbury’s Jessica Heilig and Isis Miller have made some lists of the best juniors in the state. Mitchell said they played well this summer in AAU and showcases. ESPN The Magazine took notice. Heilig is ranked sixth, while Miller is 22nd.
CHRISTMAS DATES: Catawba will again play host to the Sam Moir Christmas Classic from Dec. 28-30. It’s a Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday affair.
TWIN ENGINES: Ashia and Ayanna Holmes are close. And they better be, according to Mitchell. The juniors better do well in the classroom and on the court. If they don’t, Mom will be there to set them straight.
“She’ll sit in the classroom,” Mitchell said with a smile. “She’ll bring a broomstick or whatever it takes to keep their grades up. Their mom wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Classroom work is what Mitchell hangs his hat on. While at Livingstone, he graduated 53 of 56 players. This season at Salisbury, every player has at least a 3.0 GPA.
Two more of last year’s basketball seniors, Jasmine Clinding and Nene Phifer, aren’t playing ball this season, but they are enrolled in college.
HOLMES, SWEET HOLMES: The Holmes twins couldn’t be much closer when it comes to scoring, even though they usually have different roles on the court.
Their career point totals are definitely a tight race, and the lead has changed hands several times. After last season, Ashia held a narrow 324-317 lead on Ashia.
The Post is betting they end up tied when all is said and done.
STREAKS: The Salisbury girls are to local basketball what West is to local football.
The Hornets have won 25 straight games against county foes since North beat them in 2006.
West last beat the Hornets (in overtime) early in the 2004-05 season, while South and East enjoyed their most recent victories over the Hornets in 2002-03.
ALL-TIME GIRLS: Salisbury’s Bubbles Phifer ranks highest among active girls players on Rowan’s all-time list with 1,008 points.
That’s ninth on Salisbury’s career list. She’ll likely wind up third in SHS history behind all-time greats Shayla Fields and Donna Carr.
Avery is the runner-up with 864 (11th all-time at West) and will likely be the only county girl to crack the 1,000-point milestone this season unless something amazing happens.
A junior, Avery could make a run at Hillary Hampton’s school record (1,814) in 2010-2011.
Third in career scoring among active players entering this season is Salisbury’s Rankin, with the Holmes girls ranking fourth and fifth.
That’s right. The Hornets have four of the top five.
North’s Roberts is sixth with 305, Carson’s Jazzmin Brown is seventh with 280, and East’s Mackenzie Holshouser is eighth with 217.
DIAPER DANDIES: Watch out for these freshmen: Salisbury’s 6-7 Tyler Petty, Carson’s Allison Blackwell and West Rowan’s Shay Steele.
THE TREES: When Salisbury boys coach Jason Causby looks at his three post players ó 6-8 Tony Nunn, 6-7 Alex Weant and the 6-7 Petty ó he must think he has a college frontline.
“It gives us an interesting lineup if we zone it up,” Causby said.
BURNS, BABY, BURNS: Cliff Burns played his final season of college ball under Jim Baker last year at Catawba, but he hasn’t gotten the sport out of his system.
Burns, who played at Brunswick Community College before competing the past two years at Catawba, is doing an internship under Mike Absher at Davie County, his alma mater.
Burns was a Moir Classic MVP for the War Eagles.
The mission for the 6-7 Burns: take 6-5 sophomore center Shannon Dillard under his wing.
“He’s played for two good college coaches and he’s learned a lot,” Absher said of Burns. “He gave me a wonderful drill last night before we left.”
WHATEVER IT TAKES: South boys coach John Davis helped out the Raiders in their final football game on Friday, Nov. 13, then flew to Arkansas to watch his son Derek play defensive end for UNC Pembroke against Arkansas Tech on Saturday afternoon in a Division II playoff game.
“I got tickets through Travelocity, and then it was like the Amazing Race,” Davis said.
He actually would have made the opening kickoff, only he had his rental car motoring in the wrong direction on Interstate 40 for a while.
He wanted to be in Russellville, but he found himself headed for Texarkana.
Reversing his field, Davis made it to the game 20 minutes late. He did get there in time to see Derek record a sack.
Made it all worthwhile.
INTERESTING START: In 1992, Davis was not far removed from his days as CPC Player of the Year at South (and later at St. Andrews College) and was making his debut as South’s fiery jayvee boys coach.
One thing led to another in a practice at Salisbury High for a Christmas tournament and Davis, never one to back down from a dare, found himself attempting to dunk backwards to silence his critics and doubters.
“On my first attempt, I pinned myself, and I was really hearing it after that,” Davis said. “On my second try, it got interesting. I shattered the backboard.”
Pieces of glass went flying. The players who weren’t busy collecting souvenir shards off the floor were running to find SHS coach Sam Gealy so they could reveal the amazing news that the Hornets now owned one less backboard.
A worried Davis was sure his coaching career had ended before it got started.
“What am I thinking? I’m thinking, ‘There goes my coaching supplement,’ ” Davis said.
But the unflappable Gealy was low-key.
“Don’t worry about the backboard,” he told Davis. “We’ll get another one.”
WHERE’S KIMBER? Jordan Kimber, a standout as a West freshman last season, said he is now enrolled at a Charlotte prep school.
He was at Pfeiffer recently watching his brother, Kaleb, play for Livingstone.
BACK HOME: South’s boys assistant coach is Andrew Misenheimer, a former standout for the Raiders. He scored 351 points in a career that concluded in 2005.
2,000? Coach Davis and sons Derek and John could account for 2,000 points with the Raiders.
Big John (779) and Derek (704) are in the books. Little John (283) is a senior. The total was 1,766 entering this season.
Previous South boys coach Bob Parker (248) and son Adrian (615) combined for 863.
Another notable father/son combo at South was Michael Propst (731) and his son Tony (740). They teamed for 1,471.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.