LUMBERTON — With the Robeson County Shootout starting on Wednesday, here’s a look at one player from each team that has already caught attention from their play through the first few weeks of the season.
The Sweet 16, the top eight boys and eight girls, are ranked accordingly based on their play through the season thus far.
Kyler Page, Purnell Swett
Page came into the year knowing that he would have to carry the scoring load for the Rams and has done it well. The junior plays all over the floor and is the county’s leading scorer, averaging more than 25 points per game for the Rams. He has shown the ability to score in bunches after dropping a school-record 44 points against Cheraw.
Jordan McNeill, Lumberton
Right behind Page on the county’s scoring list is Jordan McNeill, who is averaging 19 points per game for Lumberton. McNeill opened his sophomore campaign with a double-double of 32 points and 10 rebounds, the first of three double-doubles for him already this season. While his scoring has been a plus, the Pirates have benefited from him pulling down six rebounds per game so far this season.
Corry Addison, Fairmont
One part of the Golden Tornadoes’ defensive-minded backcourt, Addison has been a constant on both sides of the ball for a team that has started the season by winning its first five games. Foul trouble has hampered the senior at times from being as aggressive on the defensive end, but when that cloud isn’t over his head he is a nuisance for opposing guards.
Caleel Mitchell, Red Springs
Leading the Red Springs offense to its 5-1 start to the year is sharpshooter Caleel Mitchell. The senior is shooting 44 percent from behind the 3-point arc and has scored in double figures in every game. Mitchell has not been greedy this season, averaging nearly four assists per contest.
Darius Boatwright, Dillon
A big part of the Wildcats run to the SCHSL 3A state championship last year, Boatwright will be one of the stronger post players in the Shootout field. The 6-foot-7 forward will tower over nearly every player in the tournament and scored 11 points in the state title game last year.
Jarias Davis, South Robeson
Davis has picked up several double-doubles this year behind his scoring and passing ability, but in the double-overtime win over West Bladen he pulled down 10 rebounds, with nine coming on offense to show the grit he brings to the Mustangs’ backcourt.
Romeo Jordan, St. Pauls
St. Pauls coach Corey Thompson challenged Jordan to be a better leader and scorer, and the senior forward has answered the call. Jordan is averaging more than 12 points and eight rebounds per contest, and is coming off an 11-point, 18-rebound game against Fairmont.
Willie Wheeler, Lake View
Leading a young Lake View team is Wheeler as the top returning scorer from a year ago with 1.8 points per game. The junior also averaged 1.2 assists per contest and is one of seven juniors on the roster.
London Thompson, Lumberton
Making the move to point guard has not slowed down Thompson’s scoring load this year. The reigning Robeson County Player of the Year is averaging a career-high 18 points per game. She has bumped her assists per game up to 7.5. She nearly missed a triple-double on several occasions this year, but has five double-doubles on the season.
Taya Jones, Red Springs
Jones leads the Lady Red Devils with 17 points per game this year and has her team primed to make another run toward the Shootout championship game. While her scoring is about the same as it was from last year, Jones’ defense has picked up both in rebounding and steals. She had a season-high 11 steals against South Columbus earlier this month.
Kiara Page, Fairmont
Fairmont coach Richard Mitchell calls Page the spark plug for his team and this year she has yet to play a game and come up short of a double-double. Against St. Pauls, Page dished out 10 assists to go along with her 20-point, 20-rebound game to record a triple-double.
Nytia Lewis, South Robeson
Lewis is the main post and offensive presence for the Lady Mustangs this year and will lead her team against some of the area’s top teams in the Shootout. The junior forward recorded a triple-double against West Bladen with her shot-blocking coming up with 16 blocks against the Lady Knights.
Olivia McDaniel, Lake View
McDaniel is one of two players for the Lady Wild Gators that are averaging more than 10 points per game, and her scoring as a guard has accounted for more than 13 points per game. She also has pulled down nearly four boards per contest.
Jykya Bell, Dillon
The sophomore guard for the Lady Wildcats leads the team in scoring as it enters the Shootout at 15 points per game. Bell had her best scoring game of the season against Latta with 23 points, and is shooting over 50 percent from the floor on the year.
T.J. Eichelberger, St. Pauls
As a freshman, Eichelberger has stepped up to lead St. Pauls into its transition season with first-year head coach Mike Moses. Eichelberger has scored 20-plus points in three games this year.
Nakyra Mitchell, Purnell Swett
Mitchell, a senior guard, has been a consistent leader for the Lady Rams this year and has provided more than just her scoring load. She’s blossoming into the floor general that the young squad needs throughout the season.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.