WDN Co-Player of the Year: Sharpless makes big leap

Published 4:25 pm Monday, April 7, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
PLYMOUTH — The first thing that jumps out at you when watching Angelo Sharpless play basketball are his physical gifts. The Plymouth senior has amazing lateral quickness, a tremendous handle and the ability to leap over defenders in a single bound.
While fans tend to notice his vertical jump first and foremost, it was his leap in maturity that had the most impact on his game and the Vikings’ success this season.
Over the years, the wrap on Sharpless was this: He is a great athlete capable of doing anything he sets his mind to, but has had the tendency to lose his cool on the court.
Not this year.
The Vikings’ star, who’s known for his ridiculous dunks, took a leap of faith with Plymouth’s first-year coach Darius LaGroon. LaGroon promised Sharpless a clean slate at the start of the season, and the senior jumped at the chance to prove wrong all the nay-sayers who said he couldn’t be coached.
The pact was a success. Plymouth earned a 19-3 record, an Albemarle Conference title and sectional championship. The Vikings’ playoff run, along with Sharpless’ 24 points per game, eight rebounds and nearly four steals a night, made him a no-brainer choice for the Washington Daily News Co-Basketball Player of the year.
Like in so many of his games throughout his years with the Vikings, Sharpless did not disappoint.
Sharpless acknowledged that this year he has taken on more of a leadership role, and relished the opportunity to guide his team to glory.
Sharpless’ growth as leader was most evident during the Vikings’ playoff battle with Roanoke in Robersonville, where the senior put Plymouth on his back and carried it to the next round of the postseason.
Sharpless and his team got off to a slow start as they trailed the Redskins 34-25 heading into halftime, with the swingman tallying only six points at the break. However, as the Vikings came out for the third quarter, there was no frustration on Sharpless’ face; just determination.
Too many times the Vikings senior had seen his team’s playoff run end prematurely, and on that night he would not allow it to happen again.
Sharpless put on a second-half display that will not be forgotten anytime soon, as he erupted for 32 second-half points. He was everywhere. Stealing passes, making dunks, burying threes, nailing mid-range jumpers and, by the time he was done, the Vikings had sailed away with an 81-75 victory over the rival Redskins.
LaGroon said what made that moment so great was that Sharpless didn’t force the action; he just let the game come to him.
While the book has closed on his stellar career at Plymouth, Sharpless will look to start a new chapter next fall when he will be playing both football and basketball at Elizabeth City State University. The future sports management major said he has fond memories of his playing days at Plymouth High School.