By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
East Fairmont’s Nick Greely didn’t know what to expect when he stepped on the floor as a full-time member of the Bees’ varsity basketball team this season.
But over the course of the year, he settled in to put together a standout sophomore campaign and has been named the Times West Virginian boys’ basketball player of the year.
Greely, a 6-foot-6 forward for the Bees, had the talent coming into the season, East Fairmont coach Tyrone Asterino said. He just needed to mature.
“I think that the beginning of the year was a process for him to get acclimated to varsity competition,” Asterino said of Greely. “Not only getting ready for varsity competition but also learning the speed of the game. The game is so much faster at the varsity level than at the freshman level.”
The sophomore took his lumps, though, being tested by players such as Robert C. Byrd standout, Justin Noble, and North Marion’s senior big man, Cody Opron. But through it all, the lumps only helped Greely to spark East Fairmont down the stretch.
The season, like Greely, started out slowly for East, the Bees losing nine of their first 12 games.
Along the way, Greely started to understand what was expected of him, Asterino said.
“He had to learn how to play every possession hard, and I think sometimes early in the season that was something that took a little time for him to get
adjusted to,” Asterino noted. “Once he figured out that we expected him to get up and down the floor and play hard every possession, he sort of came into his own.”
Greely would go on to finish the season scoring 17.5 points per game while pulling down 12.5 rebounds and blocking 4.0 shots per contest, all while leading the Bees to a 8-5 record down the stretch, including a state tournament run.
“About midway through the season we saw a progression level, and down the stretch, counting the tournament games, he had a streak of about 10 games where he was averaging 23, 24 points and almost 12 or 13 rebounds a game,” Asterino said of the spark Greely provided. “For a soph to put up double-double numbers, that maturation process came full circle with him.”
Asterino also noted that his yong big man had great ball-handling skills as well as passing skills. The wide array of abilities would help Greely get himself out of double- and triple-teams and to find open teammates.
“He got double- and triple-teamed at the freshmen level and now pretty good players at the varsity level. Freshman is one thing, but varsity you’re drawing the best defender they have and then another guy,” Asterino said of the attention drawn to Greely. “If two of them or three of them are on him, he had guys he could kick the ball to like Myles (Johnson) and Brennon (Vincent). Those three are key reasons that we had our run at the end of the season.”
The fact that Greely developed the relationship with his teammates like Johnson and Vincent, Asterino said, speaks volumes to the maturation process that Greely went through.
“(Greely) can do a lot individually, but he also had some pretty good players playing around him.” Asterino said. “It gave those guys the opportunity, but they understood that if he kicked the ball to them, and they werent open, to get the ball right back inside. Both ends understood that Nick was the focal point of the offense.”
With much of the team returning next season for East Fairmont, Greely looks to remain the main scoring option and to help build those around him. As for Greely, himself, the sky is the limit.
“I saw freshmen and sophomores at the state tournament, and he’s right there with them. I think without a doubt he’s one of the best, if not the best, sophomore in the state,” Asterino said. “He has a legitimate chance to be as good as he wants to be.”
Rounding out the All-Times West Virginian team are Johnson and Vincent from East; Tavon Horton, Darhius Nunn and Isaac Childers from Fairmont Senior; and Chase Banker, Cody Opron and Cole Richards from North Marion.
Email Matt Welch at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.