The Robesonian’s all-county boys and girls basketball teams and individual awards are selected by Jonathan Bym and Brandon Tester based on observation, statistical analysis and opinion.
* denotes 2017 All-County selection
^ denotes 2016 All-County selection
Coach of the Year: Montrell McNair, Fairmont — For as long as McNair has been the head coach for the Fairmont basketball team, he has been named coach of the year in the Three Rivers Conference and in the county. McNair’s squad made it to the fourth round of the NCHSAA tournament this year before losing to Clinton, and won the conference season and tournament titles. Fairmont amassed a 29-2 record, including a 26-game win streak that was tied for the second-longest in program history.
McNair’s take: “It’s always an honor because you always have great coaches in Robeson County. They do a great job with what they have, so it’s an honor to be recognized.”
Player of the Year: *Corry Addison, Sr., G, Fairmont — Even when Addison didn’t have a big night scoring, the senior guard had his impact felt on several other aspects. As the floor general and one half of the Golden Tornadoes’ backcourt duo that pestered opposing guards, Addison averaged 12.8 points, seven assists, six steals and five rebounds a game. Following in his brother Juwan’s footsteps, Addison will play basketball next season that Fayetteville State.
Addison’s take: “It was a personal goal from the beginning of the season. We competed very hard. Coach pushed us to get better during practice.”
McNair’s take:“He got a lot better over the summer. He did a lot of good things for us. When we needed a sixth man, he got it done. When we needed rebounds, he got it done. When we needed steals, he got it done.”
Most Improved Player: Jayvon Morris, Jr., F, Fairmont — A non-factor for Fairmont last season, Morris quickly emerged as a main post presence for Fairmont. He was the team’s leading scorer this season at 14 points a game.
Morris’ take: “I didn’t play last year, so I needed to play hard for my team this year. I brought my energy every night.”
McNair’s take: “He deserved this given he spent last year learning to trust his ankle and his teammates. He stepped up this year.”
Newcomer of the Year: Darriante Parker, Jr., G, Purnell Swett — Better known as “Speedy,” Parker was a big piece to the Purnell Swett backcourt this season in his first year on varsity. Parker averaged nearly 10 points a game this season.
Parker’s take: “It feels great. Getting the award my first year on varsity, it proves I can do a lot for this team. I have to keep working. I’m hoping to be a better leader to help my team get more wins and be more respectful to the game of basketball.”
Purnell Swett coach Jeremy Sampson’s take: “He’s a great kid. Much deserved in his first year on varsity. Great kid all around. I’m happy for him. I think he was second in the conference in steals. He changed the way we were able to play defense with his on-the-ball ability.”
Defensive Player of the Year: *Derrick Arnette, Sr., G, Fairmont — Arnette and Addison could have easily been interchanged for the county’s Player of the Year and defensive Player of the Year this season, but opposing teams knew their best players were going to have rough nights with Arnette on the floor. This is the second straight year that Arnette has been named defensive Player of the Year, after averaging four steals a game this season.
Arnette’s take: “It feels good. I was working with Corry (Addison) on my defense in the gym a lot. He was going hard at me and I was going hard at him.”
McNair’s take: “He was determined to be a defensive player starting last year. He really made a commitment to being a lock-down defender.”
Sidney McKeithan, Sr., F, Fairmont — Even though he was a bit undersized to play in the post, McKeithan exuded energy that helped him be effective for the Golden Tornadoes this season. He averaged more than eight points a game.
*Stephon Lloyd, Jr., G, Lumberton — Lloyd took a big step forward as both a leader and a scorer for Lumberton this season to help the Pirates get back to the NCHSAA state playoffs. He dished out four assists a game and scored more than 12 points a game on average.
*Jordan McNeill, So., G, Lumberton — McNeill avoided a sophomore slump this season by bumping up his scoring average to 18.6 points per game, and also became more active rebounding the ball, pulling down more than seven a game this season.
Romeo Jordan, Sr., G/F, St. Pauls — Jordan took over as the best offensive weapon this season for the Bulldogs and produced more than 12 points a night, while also using his size to pull down more than seven rebounds a game.
Aaron Revels, Sr., G, St. Pauls — Revels moved to the starting lineup from the sixth-man role a year ago and more than doubled his scoring output this season at 12 points a game and nearly three steals a contest as well.
*Kyler Page, So., G, Purnell Swett — Page did a little bit of everything this season for the Rams, and did it well. He scored a team-best 13 points a game and shot 30 percent from behind the arc.
*Caleel Mitchell, Sr., G, Red Springs — The senior closed out his career averaging a team-best 14.5 point per game, and contributed to other areas for the Red Devils by nabbing three steals and dropping three assists a game. Mitchell hit 58 3-pointers this season as one of the county’s best sharpshooters.
*Monte’ Wilkerson, Sr., G, Red Springs — Helping guide the Red Springs offense, Wilkerson, like Mitchell, did a little bit of everything this season. He averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and three steals a game.
Cameron Werrell, Jr., F, South Robeson — Werrell thrived in the new system that coach Ryan Bullard implemented as he scored more than 14 points a game a season and averaged nearly a double-double this season at 9.5 rebounds a game.
Jarurius Davis, Sr., G, South Robeson — A big piece in the backcourt, Davis averaged 13.7 points per game this season and 6.4 assists a game with three double-doubles this season.
Co-Coach of the Year: Danny Graham, Lumberton — Graham closes his career out with another Coach of the Year award after Lumberton caught fire late to win the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament title and advance to the third round of the NCHSAA state playoffs. The 22-year coach of the Lady Pirates amassed over 490 wins in his career.
Graham’s take: “It’s a great honor, but the honor goes to the players for making it possible. The whole team really came together there at the end and did a great job. I think they wanted to come together and play for everybody on the team and I appreciate it. It couldn’t be a better scenario to go out winning the conference and going to the third round of the state playoffs.”
Co-Coach of the Year: Mike Moses Jr., St. Pauls — As a first-year coach, Moses’ plan was to have the program turned around in two years, but that plan was fast-tracked this season. The Lady Bulldogs’ pressure defense helped fuel the offense for the young team that finished the season fifth in the Three Rivers Conference and had four times the wins from a year ago.
Moses’ take: “It’s kind of unreal. I took the job with expectations of eventually turning the program around. I just wanted to implement some things in year one, and I’m very competitive and realistically wanted to improve. It just came faster than I expected and it’s a blessing.”
Player of the Year: *^London Thompson, Jr., G, Lumberton — Thompson closed her career out with back-to-back Player of the Year awards, and did it after transitioning to the point guard spot this season for the Lady Pirates. Thompson scored a team-best 17 points and seven assists a game, along with 10 rebounds a contest. She tallied over 1,700 points in her career.
Thompson’s take: “From how things went last year, that motivated me to make sure I was on top this year. Getting Player of the Year to end of my senior year and high school career is good. It was a big job for me this year. Coach (Graham), my dad and my AAU coaches really motivated me.”
Graham’s take: “I saw an extra drive from her to do the little things. We moved her over to point guard this year and I think she had a will to show everybody that she can play the point guard. She mostly played one the whole year and did a great job for us and played the one at a high level.”
Most Improved Player: Rachel O’Neil, Jr., G, Lumberton — From last season to this season, O’Neil not only stepped into a starting role for the Lady Pirates, but she more than doubled her point total from a season ago. She was the top 3-point shooter for Lumberton with 44 made 3s this season.
O’Neil’s take: “It makes me feel good because over the past few years I’ve put in a lot of work during the summer and throughout the years to get my shot better. I was so happy that I made all-conference this year, so it feels good to know that my hard work is finally paying off.”
Mitchell’s take: “The girl has really worked hard in the offseason to get her shot better and she led our team in 3-point percentage. Her tenacity to get better, I can’t say enough about her work to get better.”
Newcomer of the Year: T.J. Eichelberger, Fr., G, St. Pauls — To help out with Moses’ quick turnaround of the St. Pauls program was Eichelberger. As a freshman, she led the team in scoring and had a few triple-double outings leading the way for the Lady Bulldogs.
Eichelberger’s take: “It was a hard, but I managed to do. I thank God for allowing me to come in and be able to do what I did this year and my teammates also. I had to break habits and make adjustments so I could help out my team and allow us to win.”
Moses’ take: “T.J. grew from game one to game 23. The first five games she was definitely playing like a freshman, but the great position for her is she was going to play through it. She had some things that she couldn’t do early in the year that she perfected by the end of the year. She just wants to get better.”
Defensive Player of the Year: *^Taya Jones, Sr., G, Red Springs — With last season’s defensive Player of the Year, Sha’nia Leach, graduating, Jones knew she had to step up her game on the defensive side of the ball. In her final campaign for the Lady Red Devils, Jones averaged four steals a game and had 11 steals against South Columbus.
Jones’ take: “That wasn’t a strength that I had, but I worked on it a lot this year. Going into college now knowing that I can play defensive gives me so much confidence and I really can’t wait to get there.”
Sinclair’s take: “That was a big thing she improved for. She played the passing lanes better and she always guarded the other team’s best ball handler. That was one of her weak points that she took to heart and wanted to improve on.”
*^Madison Canady, So., F/C, Lumberton — Canady was the other force for Lumberton this season, averaging 16.8 points and 10.8 rebounds a game. She had 18 double-doubles this season.
*^Destiny Hardin, Jr., F, Lumberton — Hardin was a key reserve for the Lady Pirates in the post and was named all-conference this season.
*Taylynn Atkinson, So., F, Red Springs — Atkinson made vast improvements this seasons and became a big presence in the post and on the wing for the Lady Red Devils, and chipped in 10 points a game.
*Kiara Page, Sr., F, Fairmont — Before injury sidelined her for the final stretch of the season, Page was on track to be Player of the Year scoring 24 points and pulling down 13 boards a game on average.
Diamond Simms-Moore, Jr., F, St. Pauls — Helping the Lady Bulldogs in the post this season was the experience of Simms-Moore as one of the few players that had varsity experience on the roster.
Nytia Lewis, Sr., F, South Robeson — Lewis averaged 11 points and 14 rebounds a night, and was a force in the post for the Lady Mustangs. She also chipped in more than four blocks a game.
Nakyra Mitchell, Sr., G, Purnell Swett — Mitchell, a three-year starter for the Lady Rams, was named all-conference and helped get the Purnell Swett offense going this season.
First-year coach Mike Moses was named co-Coach of the Year after turning the program around from a 3-win season last year.