Howard, Love get chance at Wytheville

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 4, 2013

CHINA GROVE — Just when you think you’ve heard it all, Rameiq Howard says he’s so busy working on basketball that he doesn’t have time to play basketball.

Howard’s not kidding. He recently declined a hoops offer from his buddy D.J. Love.

“D.J. wanted me to come down to Kannapolis for a game, but I was too busy in the gym,” Howard said. “I’m working hard on my game. I’m in the gym every day.”

Carson’s Howard and Love have an opportunity to continue their playing careers — and their educations.

Both Cougars are ticketed for Virginia’s Wytheville Community College, located at the junction of highways 77 and 81 in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Love will join the Wytheville Wildcats program in a few weeks. Howard will head to Wytheville (pronounced With-ville) after he graduates from Carson in December.

Wytheville showed interest in H By oward first.

“Toward the end of last season, I knew it was time to look at colleges, and Wytheville was sending me letters,” Howard said. “I went up there and met the boys on the team and visited the campus. When they asked me to come up there for a tryout, I told Coach Perry. He said I should take D.J. with me.”

The workout went well for both.

“I just went up there and performed the best I could,” Love said. “The coach liked me.”

Howard made an impression with his shot-blocking.

“I hated to do it, but I blocked three of D.J.’s shots off the backboard,” Howard reported with a laugh.

Wytheville’s young coach Tyler Cannoy liked what he saw athletically, although neither Cougar has ideal height. Howard is a powerful 6-2/6-3 guy, while Love is springy 5-foot-11.

“D.J. and Rameiq have a transition ahead of them to play at the next level,” Cannoy said. “Rameiq is physically ready to play right now, but there are skills he has to learn because he’ll be moving from inside to a 3-man. D.J. will have a redshirt year to help him make a transition from scoring guard to point guard.”

Carson had all-county Tre Williams as its main decision-maker, so Love didn’t handle the ball a lot. His biggest impact was defense and instant offense. His average was 7.1 points per game, but his points always seemed to come in game-changing flurries.

“D.J. got our most improved player award,” Perry said. “He was the catalyst for our season turning around. We started slow and he started slow, but when D.J. started to play well, our team started to play well.”

Carson started 2-5 but Love spurred a five-game winning streak that led to a 17-11 season.

Howard averaged 6.4 points a game, but there were nights when he looked like a 16.4 guy.

“Rameiq got better as the year went on, and he’ll keep getting better,” Perry said. “He’s got long arms, and he shoots the ball high. There were days in practice when we didn’t have anyone who could stop him.”

In a postseason all-star game, Howard was a standout, even with talented Statesville and North Rowan players on the court. So there’s some upside there.

Howard said the opportunity to play at Wytheville is “a blessing” and the next educational step toward a nursing career.

“It’s going to be a great learning experience,” Love added. “Plus, it’s a chance to be independent.”

Cannoy says both players can be successful.

“The key thing is they can use basketball as a tool for an education,” he said. “We’re happy to give them that chance.”