The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 15, 2012

Coaches high on Smith, Shannon and Schofield

Trio to play in North-South All-Star Basketball Classic tonight

The coaches are unanimous.

Cam Shannon, Marcus Schofield and Taylor Smith are special players.

Shannon, from Woodrow Wilson, and Schofield and Smith from Wyoming East will make their final appearances in a high school basketball game at 7:30 p.m. today In the North-South All-Star Basketball Classic at the South Charleston Community Center.

“The area will definitely be well-represented with these three kids,” said Wyoming East coach Rory Chapman. “All three of them are great in the classroom, great on the floor. They were great for their communities.”

All three had fine careers, playing for two of the state’s premier basketball programs.

Shannon, a versatile 6-foot-2 forward, averaged 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds for the 19-7 Flying Eagles.

“Cam was the type of guy we expected a whole lot from, on both ends of the court,” Woodrow coach Ron Kidd said of the second-team Class AAA all-stater. “He was always a threat to score, and he would play the other team’s best offensive player.”

Shannon scored 20 points in Woodrow’s 53-50 regional loss to George Washington. A solid outside shooter, he also had the strength to take the ball inside.

Even better, he was a leader.

“Cam was a real good leader. He brought a tremendous attitude, on and off the court,” Kidd said. “He’s an awesome kid. He got along with everybody at our school.”

Chapman, who played the Flying Eagles five times in the past two seasons, concurred.

“Cam is a competitor — a guy who brings it every night — but he’s not just a great athlete. He’s a great kid,” Chapman said. “With him, there’s always a handshake, a ‘yes sir, no sir’ attitude.”

Oak Hill coach Fred Ferri, who will coach the South all-stars with Tug Valley’s Garland Thompson, said Shannon will be as athletic a player as anyone in the game.

“I’m looking forward to him being on our team,” Ferri said. “Like a lot of Beckley kids, he’ll give you everything he has. He plays hard and he’s skilled.”

Schofield is likewise a superbly talented athlete. A standout football player who is headed for the University of Charleston, he helped lead the Warriors’ basketball team to a 20-6 record and a berth in the Class AA state tournament semifinals.

The 6-4 forward-center averaged 16.3 points and 8.1 rebounds, and was a first-team all-state selection.

As good as he was with the basketball, Chapman especially appreciated Schofield’s work on defense.

“Marcus was our best defender. Our lockdown guy,” he said. “He’s all team — he didn’t care about individual stats.

“But as he progressed as a junior and senior, he became a scorer. He was a go-to guy his senior year.

“He’ll play football at Charleston, and they’re getting a great athlete who has tons of potential.”

Smith, a 6-6 center, also turned it on as a senior, and saved his best for last.

He averaged 13.1 points a game, but was closer to 18 to 20 the second half of the season.

“Taylor just became a force,” Chapman said. “He’s really strong and has great footwork, and is a smart kid.”

Smith always had good size, but didn’t really put it together until his final two seasons. He worked hard on his game and was rewarded with a spot on the AA all-state honorable mention team.

He scored 17 points in a regular-season game against Woodrow, had a 24-point game against another triple-A squad, South Charleston, and exploded for 30 points in the regional final against PikeView.

“Taylor was our most improved player coming into the season, and he became more aggressive as a senior,” Chapman said. “He became a good shot-blocker and rebounder. He got more physical. He liked the contact.”

Kidd has a lot of respect for the Warrior duo.

“We’re triple-A, but I never looked at them as being AA kids,” he said. “I looked at them as players, hard-nosed and competitive.”

Ferri certainly saw his share of Schofield and Smith. Each year Oak Hill and Wyoming East would play two regular-season games, another in the Big Atlantic Classic, and then have a showdown in the sectionals. More often than not, they’d cap things off with a state tournament game.

“I know a good bit about them,” Ferri said. “Marcus is one of the best athletes in the state. He’s a big, strong guy who can post up and be strong inside, or play outside and shoot the ball. He was one guy our teams didn’t have a matchup for.

“Taylor is a big, strong guy, very skilled around the basket, and a good rebounder. He did a good job plugging the middle and protecting the rim.”

Ferri, who is coaching his final game before retiring, looks forward to having Schofield and Smith on his team for a change.

“I’ve always gotten along with the Wyoming East kids. They’re always respectful, and a lot of kids aren’t like that,” he said. “We’d speak, before and after games.”

Other South players include Steve Browning from Logan (25 points per game), Tolsia’s Jacob Copley (20), Tino di Trapano from George Washington (11.6), Ot Elmore from South Charleston (16.8), Herbert Hoover’s Charlton Gandee (18.1), Tug Valley’s Mason Pack (15.4), Poca’s Clinton Parsons (16.5), Josh Pierson from St. Joseph (22.6), Cam Powell from Winfield (10) and Hurricane’s Garrett Tinsley (19.3).

Tonight will also be the final game for Braxton County coach Rick Frame, who will coach the North along with Fairmont Senior’s Dave Retton.

Preliminary activities tonight include a free throw competition at 6 p.m., a 3-point shooting competition at 6:15 p.m., and a slam dunk competition at 6:30 p.m.

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