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College Basketball: West grad Sherrill closing in on 2,000

Adding up the points

Sherrill

Sherrill

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

AUGUSTA, Ga.  —Keshun Sherrill scored 1,907 points at West Rowan High, an astounding total for a 5-foot-9 guard. The only two Falcons who scored more were ACC recruits — 6-3 Scooter Sherrill and 6-8 Donte Minter.

The 2012 West Rowan graduate has amassed even more points in college than high school. After getting an efficient 16 on 7-for-11 shooting in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day blowout of Young Harris at Christenberry Fieldhouse, the senior has scored 1,985 points for the Division II Augusta Jaguars.

That total ranks second in school history, as well as second in Peach Belt Conference annals.

“I give it all to the Man Above for keeping me healthy,” Sherrill said in a phone interview. “In four years of college ball, I’ve never missed a game due to sickness or injury. That helps out your point total, and so does having great teammates. They get the rebounds, and it’s not like I can set a screen for myself. They get me open.”

Sherrill probably will reach the 2,000-point milestone on Wednesday when Augusta hosts Flagler. The school and league record-holder for points is Ben Madgen, an Australian who poured in 2,306 for Augusta from 2006-10. Magden’s No. 1 jersey was retired by the school. He currently plays pro ball in Lithuania.

“Scoring 2,000 points in college would be a big accomplishment, something I can always bring up when I’m sitting around with the family 10 or 20 years from now,” Sherrill said.  “As far as breaking the school record,  I’ve looked at it, I’ve looked at the number of games I have left, and it’s something I might have a shot at. But the best way to score a lot of points is for the team to keep playing. Winning our games in the conference tournament, making the NCAA playoffs, those are things that would mean playing more games. If we keep winning, the points will take care of themselves.”

He’s got a minimum of 13 games left. If he only plays 13, he’d need about 24.7 points per game to break Madgen’s record, but he might play quite a few more than 13.

Sherrill gets all those points by being one of the nation’s top free-throw shooters (90 percent) and a solid 3-point shooter (40 percent). He mixes in drives and pull-ups to score steadily. His career high is 37 points.

Sherrill actually had a rare off game last week, shooting 1-for-8 and scoring eight points against Georgia College.

“That was the second-worst game of my career, next to an Education Day game my sophomore year when I scored seven,” Sherrill said. “But the guys picked me up. We got the win.”

Augusta is winning. The Jaguars are 13-3 and ranked fourth in the Southeast Region behind South Atlantic Conference bullies Queens and Lincoln Memorial and Conference Carolinas pace-setter Limestone.

“We lost our first two league games because we were allowing teams to shoot 50 percent,” Sherrill said. “When you’re giving up 80 or 90, it’s tough to win. But we’re playing much better team defense now. That’s why we’ve won six in a row.”

Sherrill had to carry the Jaguars last season, but he’s getting a lot more help this time. That’s made it a fun senior season.

“There’s definitely less pressure on me,” Sherrill said. “I felt like I had to score last year. Now I can let the game come to me. There are still some nights when I’ll score a lot, but there are other nights when when I can trust my teammates to do the scoring.”

Overlooked by just about everyone because of his size, Sherrill was recruited for Augusta by head coach Dip Metress, who was West Rowan coach Mike Gurley’s teammate and roommate at Belmont Abbey. Sherrill sat out his first season in Augusta. That was the 2012-13 school year. He ran the scout team in practice and showed flashes of what was to come. There was a day when he scored 17-straight points against the first team.

He was Peach Belt Freshman of the Year in 2013-14.

Now he’s headed for his third straight season as a consensus All-American, and if there were doubts about his ability to compete against Division I competition, he scored 33 points in the near upset at Wichita State that kicked off this season.

Against Wingate, early this season, Sherrill scored Augusta’s last 10 points to pull out a 76-72 victory at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

Sherrill leads the Peach Belt Conference in scoring and free-throw percentage. He’s second in field-goal percentage, third in three pointers.

Sherrill is averaging 24 points per game, a figure that ranked seventh in the nation going into Monday’s games. Shorter’s Phil Taylor, who has appeared in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd, leads Division II with an amazing 35.2 points per game.

Sherrill’s much bigger brother, K.J. — the No. 4 scorer in West Rowan history — played his final year of college ball at Augusta alongside Keshun, and is prospering overseas in the pro ranks. He plays in Herten, Germany.

“I talk to K.J. two or three times a week,” Sherrill said. “He’s doing well. When I talk to him, I can tell there’s a smile on his face.”

Sherrill still gets tremendous support from his family. Keith Sherrill, his father, shows up for every Augusta  home game and all the drivable away games. Keshun’s mother, Rhonda, is there whenever her work schedule permits. Both parents were able to make the trip to see Keshun play on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“It was a long day, but a very worthwhile day,” Sherrill said. “We played the game to  honor Dr. King, we got the win, and I got to sit down and relax and have a bite to eat with my parents before they drove back.”

Sherrill has aspirations to play pro ball, and even at 5-9, there’s probably going to be a place for him. He’s that special.

“As long as it keeps bouncing, I want to be playing basketball,” Sherrill said. “I love the game.”

The second jersey retirement in Augusta men’s basketball history shouldn’t be far away.

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