Junious Smith III: Just bring on basketball season already
Can we just fast forward to late November?
No disrespect to football, volleyball, boys’ soccer, cross-country and girls’ tennis, but basketball season is my favorite time of the year. Football is my favorite sport to cover because of the action and pace — I actually have a bit of time to decipher and document the previous play — but basketball always had my heart.
This is also the one sport I could practice without utterly embarrassing myself with the high school teams (although I wasn’t a complete train wreck with volleyball and cross-country).
I could go into the possible storylines for the upcoming season, but will wait until it gets closer to the seasons across the region. For now, I’d like to highlight three reasons why I appreciate basketball season the most out of the others. There may be elements other sports provide, but it’s not as consistent across the area — please prove me wrong at every turn, fall and spring sports.
The student sections come alive
I came to North Lenoir Tuesday to conduct an interview with Kanijah Taylor and sat in the office while the receptionist made the call to her teacher. The “Student Section of the Year” trophy was in the office, and it made me smile because of the flashbacks throughout the season.
It wasn’t just North Lenoir — during the biggest games, everyone in the area provided a flair that isn’t seen in every sport. I’ve seen student sections turn games around for the home team and the rivalries aren’t just on the court — seeing Kinston fans travel to Snow Hill and vice versa to pack the gyms out is always a joy.
The chances for weather postponements are nullified
If the conditions aren’t good for a football game due to inclement weather or rough field conditions, the game is either postponed or cancelled. As ugly as the exterior is for a basketball game, unless the roof is leaking the contest is being played. The temperature remains standard — some gyms are notoriously hot, others spring for central air — and the schedule is firm.
Well, unless we have a snowstorm or a late hurricane. Then we’re back in chaos.
Have you seen the John Wall Holiday Invitational invitees?
The girls’ invitee list hasn’t been released (although I’m pretty sure Kinston will play), but the boys’ lineups are absolutely insane. This tournament, based in Raleigh, has a reputation of being one of the premier tournaments in the nation, and this field certifies the claim.
There are 17 players projected in the Top 50 nationally playing in this tournament, along with three Top-10 ranked teams. Kinston will represent Eastern North Carolina, along with Farmville Central, but there will be a familiar ENC face coming back as Day’Ron Sharpe — who helped lead South Central to a state title last year — transferred to the No. 1 team in the nation, Monteverde Academy out of Florida.
Also, you never know who you will meet out there — last year, producer extraordinaire 9th Wonder was in the building, along with former UNC and Detroit Pistons stalwart Rasheed Wallace.
N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts made it out to the games on multiple days, Washington Wizards guard and tourney namesake John Wall always comes through and there are usually appearances from UNC coach Roy Williams and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
The tournament takes place from Dec. 26-30 and it’s always a show. Then, there’s the Good Guys vs. Cancer Showcase at First Flight, the Crown Town Classic in Charlotte, Kinston’s MLK Showcase...
Again, I apologize. I’m just ready for basketball season.