FAIRMONT — Derrick Arnette was an offensive-minded player when he first took the court with the Fairmont basketball team, but all it took was one playoff game to change that mentality.
In a second-round playoff matchup against North Pitt last year, Arnette, then a junior, stepped up defensively and quickly earned the respect of his opponents.
“They had a guy that was averaging 30 points a game,” Fairmont head coach Montrell McNair said. “Derrick came in and was almost kissing him (on defense). The guy didn’t get mad. He was pushing him away, but he didn’t get mad. By halftime the guy was already shaking his hand, saying no one had ever played defense on him like that.”
That experience motivated Arnette to work on his defensive skills. His initiative paid off, as Arnette established himself as one of the Golden Tornadoes’ most reliable weapons on both ends of the floor and led them to a 29-2 record in his senior year.
He capped of his high school career by taking home Robeson County Defensive Player of the Year honors his final two seasons.
Arnette will have more opportunities to showcase his skills as a member of the Davidson County Community College basketball team next season. Surrounded by family and friends, he signed his letter of intent on Friday to play with the Storm.
Arnette fulfilled a goal that he started pursuing as an eighth grader, when he led his team to the Robeson County championship.
“Nobody thought we could do it but me,” said Arnette, who scored 36 points in the championship game.
Arnette averaged 14 points per game as a senior for the Golden Tornadoes. His role as point guard was integral for the team, and the Golden Tornadoes would often play less efficiently if he went to the bench because of foul trouble or to to take a rest.
He said Davidson County plays at a tempo similar to the Golden Tornadoes, a factor that that influenced his decision to join the Storm.
Arnette said he thinks improved defensive skills will also benefit him at the next level. While the North Pitt game was a turning point for that aspect of his skillset, a piece of advice from McNair also helped Arnette realize what it would take to be a college basketball player.
“When I first got here I could score, but Coach told me If I wanted to play at the next level, I needed to be able to stop somebody,” Arnette said.
He lived up to that challenge, while also staying on top of his work off in the classroom.
“He has a 20 on the ACT and he’s sitting at a 3.5 GPA, so he does work hard off of the court,” McNair said.
Davidson advanced to the Region X Finals this season, ending the year with a loss to Sandhills Community College.
“He found a school that he likes, and he’s comfortable playing there because they play the same type of style,” McNair said. “I’m excited about it.”
Fairmont’s Derrick Arnette signs his letter of intent on Friday to play basketball at Davidson County Community College. Arnette averaged 14 points per game for the Golden Tornadoes as a senior.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.