2011-12 Basketball: West Rowan boys preview
By Ryan Bisesi
MOUNT ULLA ó To a lot of basketball fans, the number 23 in a light blue uniform represents an iconic figure in the sport.
It carries a comparable honor in the West Rowan family.
Memorable talents Scooter Sherrill, Junior Hairston, K.J. Sherrill and B.J. Sherrill have donned Michael Jordanís number at some point for the Falcons. So it only makes sense that Keshun Sherrill is switching from his No. 1 to 23 after coach Mike Gurleyís suggestion during the summer.
ěDo you want to continue to wear No. 1 since youíre the only guy whoís ever worn No. 1 at West Rowan,î Gurley told him. ěOr do you want to carry on the Sherrill legacy?î
Naturally Keshun chose the second option.
Sherrill has been embedded in the Falcon program, inhibiting the West gym since he was seven. Entering his senior season, he represents the last of a family thatís been a part of Gurleyís life for the past two decades. Sherrill is a point away from 1,300 for his career and he was on the all-NPC and all-county teams last year, averaging 21.1 points a game. Heís the last of the Sherrillís who Gurley intends on coaching.
ěHeís a young man who I feel like Iíve been coaching about 11 years,î Gurley said. ěHeís been in our gym for about that long.î
West comes into the season after another stellar year that ended with a 18-11 record and a fourth-round playoff appearance. The Falcons won the NPC tournament against regular-season champ Statesville.
All of this came after starting 0-4 due to the football team keeping a chunk of the players until mid- December for its third-straight state title. Fortunately for Gurley, the playoffs end a week earlier this year than in the past so heíll have a better idea of his team at least a week prior to last year.
ěThe last couple of years, weíve kind of hung our sign out as a tough basketball team,î said Gurley, who cites last yearís run to the playoffs as an exhibit of his teamís grit. ěThatís become our mantra.î
This year, no one embodies the toughness of West more than center Maurice Warren, who was a force inside in playoff wins against A.L. Brown and Northwest Cabarrus last year scoring double figures in each game. Gurley gets his vintage NBA references out when talking about Warren, likening him to Rick Mahorn, Paul Silas and Charles Oakley.
ěHe does dirty work,î Gurley said. ěHeíll guard your best post man even though heís going to be undersized.î
Notable post threats Dominique Noble and B.J. Sherrill are gone. B.J. averaged 12.5 points last year and Nobleís size eventually led to a football scholarship at Georgia Tech.
ěItís a younger group from 1 to 14,î Gurley said. ěDefense, rebounding, toughness are things I think weíre going to see major improvements in this year.î
Gurley says sophomore Devon Parksí court vision is the best heís seen in a player since Hairston. Parks carries a stocky 5-foot-10 build, but plays alongside Sherrill in the backcourt.
ěHeíll find the open man if you get open,î Gurley said. ěBut he can also score the ball.î
Jarvis Morganís athleticism transfered nicely to the court last year and Gurley hopes for more of the same in the coming months. Morgan averaged 10 points in 25 games last year.
ěJarvis is an excellent slasher and finisher at the rim,î Gurley said. ěIíll really lean on him more for rebounding and defense because of the loss of Noble and B.J.î
Gurleyís fifth win this season will be his 300th at the school. Gurley enters his 15th year at West with a 295-74 record.
The coaching staff is high on freshman Alexis Archie, a 6-foot-2 post presence, who excelled at West Rowan Middle. Gurley says Archie is talented enough to contribute significantly as a freshman.
ěI think of him as baby B.J.,î Gurley said. ěWhen I look at him, I see a kid who will eventually be the leader of our team.î
Dinkin Miller, taking Sherrillís No. 1 jersey, is what Gurley calls ěmaybe the best defender on the team.î Miller played his freshman and sophomore years and will return when football is done.
Najee Tucker and Daisean Reddick are up from the jayvee team and 6-4 Travis Morgan, Jarvisí brother, is back after a re-occurring knee issue for his senior year. Sophomore Zeke Blackwood, dubbed ěZeke the Freakî by Gurley, is athletically gifted and will try to find a role on the varsity this season. Sophomore Chris Hazzard and junior Keiro Cutherbertson are big bodies that will back up Warren. Quinton Phifer is another returner.
Sophomore Seth Martin, who hit a trio of 3s against Davie County last year to send the game into overtime, returns. Martin and junior Jack Gallagher are solid long-range shooters off the bench.
ěWe feel good about our quickness,î Gurley said. ěWe know we donít have any height, but I think weíre just going to go ahead and play the games anyway and see what happens.
ěI donít know if thereís any championships in our immediate future, but I think the people of Cleveland, Woodleaf and Mount Ulla need to still come out on Tuesday and Friday nights because theyíre going to see that blue collar, tough-man attitude thatís made this such a great community.î