A.L. Brown boys: Ready for another run in the Mecka
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014
KANNAPOLIS — Shelwyn Klutz enters his 18th season as A.L. Brown’s coach, still hanging in there after 233 wins and 190 losses.
He looks about the same as he did in 1997 when it comes to his optimistic smile, but the flecks of gray in his hair tell you he’s been through his share of battles.
The Wonders were generally successful in their 3A days. They won 20 games and a league championship under Klutz in 2004-05 and finished 19-8 in 2012-13. But 4A basketball, especially metro Charlotte 4A basketball, made for a rocky transition for the program last season.
The Wonders were undersized for the Mecka, won only two conference games (Robinson and Mallard Creek) and finished last in the eight-team league. That’s the first time one of Klutz’s teams finished on the bottom.
It’s hard to be overly optimistic about this season, although Klutz has a good point guard in Joekeem Neal to contend with pressure, make open jumpers and run the show.
Joekeem’s cousin Jaylon Neal is the other returner with serious experience. He’s an accurate jump-shooter with some range.
After that, it’s a collection of guys with athletic ability who are still developing as basketball players. It won’t be a shock if Damon Johnson, the junior quarterback, emerges as the third scorer. Johnson had a few solid performances last season.
Sherrod Sutton, Tyree Cummings and Dyquan St. Louis are among the players Klutz is counting on for rebounding and defense.
A.L. BROWN’S ARTISTS
Joekeem Neal, senior, guard
Neal will have to do a lot for the Wonders just to be competitive. He’s a quick penetrator and unselfish passer, but Klutz is needs 18 points a game from him.
Jaylon Neal, junior, guard
Neal has a nice-looking stroke from the wings and corners and will be counted on to score consistently.
THE WONDERS’ HOOPSOGRAPHY
Returning players: 3
2013-14 record: 6-17, 2-12 Mecka
2013-14 conf. finish: 8th,