How would you like to conduct your own fantasy draft of North Carolina’s best high school basketball talent? For Jack Britt coach Ike Walker Jr. this wasn’t a fantasy, it was reality. He recently helped choose the North Carolina All-Stars for this year’s annual Carolinas All- Star Basketball Classic.
The game is scheduled March 24 in the gym at Wilmington’s Hoggard High School.
Walker will serve as the assistant coach of the North Carolina team that will face a squad of South Carolina’s top seniors. He and North Carolina head coach Lee Reavis of Northwest Guilford recently met in Greensboro at the offices of the North Carolina Coaches Association to select this year’s team.
The state’s public school high school basketball coaches nominate seniors from their teams for selection to the game.
Phil Weaver, games director for the NCCA, forwarded the nominations to Walker and Reavis.
Walker said the nominations include basic information like scoring and rebounding averages along with reasons each coach thinks his player should be picked.
Beyond that, he had to do some homework. At Reavis’ request, Walker did some checking on players from the eastern part of the state while Reavis studied those from the west.
“We talked to some college coaches and some assistants,’’ Walker said. “I talked to some high school coaches in the area where the prospective nominees played. We used every avenue of information- gathering we could.’’
The team has already been selected and will be announced soon. Walker said he’s pleased with the 10 players he and Reavis chose. “We’ve got kids going to ACC schools and being recruited by ACC schools,’’ he said.
Walker has an advantage preparing for the game as he’s been an all-star coach before. He led the East All- Stars to victory in the 2016 North Carolina Coaches Association East-West game in Greensboro.
Walker said the biggest lesson he learned from his first all-star experience was to sell his team on the benefits of playing defense.
“If you play good defense you can enjoy the game even more because you can rebound missed shots and get out and run in transition,’’ he said. “If you just let kids score and don’t take pride in defense, you’re taking the ball out of bounds and playing offense against a set defense.’’
Walker said he’ll tell the players he coaches in Wilmington to respect the game of basketball. “Let’s not do what we see the NBA guys doing, which is just showing up and not necessarily competing,’’ he said. “We want to compete and respect our opponent, respect the game.’’
The gym at Hoggard is named for Fayetteville native Sheila Boles. A Seventy-First graduate, Boles was on the first women’s basketball team at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She went on to become the first woman in North Carolina to coach a varsity boys basketball team, leading Wilmington Hoggard to the state playoffs eight times. Her record in 11 seasons was 167-121.
She became the first female to be named a high school athletic director in New Hanover County history. She is a member of the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame.
Photo: Jack Britt coach Ike Walker Jr.