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Northside’s Adebayo named WDN Beaufort County Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS SIMPLY THE BEST: Northside’s Edrice “Bam” Adebayo led all of North Carolina’s four classes in points and rebounds in 2015.

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS
SIMPLY THE BEST: Northside’s Edrice “Bam” Adebayo led all of North Carolina’s four classes in points and rebounds in 2015.

Northside’s Edrice “Bam” Adebayo has been named Washington Daily News Beaufort County Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year, an honor that, frankly, may underplay what the 6-foot-9, 242-pound power forward has accomplished this season.

No other athlete on any of the six county teams came even remotely close to the astronomical numbers put up by the Panthers’ go-to big man this season. Adebayo finished averaging 32.2 points, 21 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 4.5 blocks per contest, numbers that resulted in his second-consecutive co-Eastern Plains Conference Player-of-the-Year honor.

“There are some other good players in the country, there really are,” said head coach Mike Proctor. “Some years, some of those guys could easily be Player of the Year. But if you really break it down, everybody in the room knows who the best player in this league is.”

The state’s leader in scoring and rebounding among all four classes, Adebayo’s stat line likely puts him at the top of the list for those in the running for Associated Press Player of the Year, the highest in-state accolade for high school basketball.

Averaging 24 points and 18 boards last season, Adebayo’s improvement from his sophomore to junior year is inspiring, and it begins with the introduction of a mid-range game, one that drew defenders out of the paint and opened the door for his teammates to contribute offensively as well. He’s also added a series of spin moves to his already elite repertoire as a ball-handler.

Before every game this season, principal Charles Clark, who announced the starting lineup prior to tipoff, would say, “Starting at guard, No. 24, Edrice Adebayo.” Listing Adebayo as a guard may seem comical on the surface, but when called upon, the state’s leading rebounder has the ability to run point if needed.

“He handles the ball better and is way more of a leader,” Proctor said. He knows when to fuss at (his teammates) and knows when to pat them on the butt … We’re going to move that shot out to make him knock down the three next year, but right now him hitting the mid-range shot brings defenders farther out. I think the biggest improvement he’s made is leadership and the ability to score other than just posting up. He’s always been a great rebounder and a great defender.”

In the season opener against in-county rival Washington, Adebayo had the biggest game of his career, dropping 47 points and notching 23 boards and five steals. It was a performance that led Pam Pack head coach Steven Flowers to use the word “unguardable.”

Northside’s opening game was just one of six others where Adebayo scored 40 or more points single handedly. And two of those 40-point games came when it mattered most.

Already listed as the No. 8 overall recruit in the Class of 2016 by ESPN, the five-star Division I prospect only bolstered his reputation in March with an impressive postseason showing. Adebayo averaged 35 points and 24 rebounds in Northside’s five playoff games, including two 40-plus-point performances against Northampton County and Riverside.

“He just wants to win … He just wants to win,” Proctor said. “And he’s such a good guy. Everybody gets along with him. He’s not arrogant or cocky by any means. He’s just a good person.”

In the eastern regional championship game against East Carteret, Adebayo was held to just 20 points, his lowest total in two months, as Northside fell, 75-60, despite narrowing the lead to five points with three minutes remaining.

While talk of Adebayo possibly leaving Northside next season to play against tougher competition has surfaced, there’s a good chance he returns for his senior season in Pinetown with redemption on his mind.

“I expect him to take another step just like he has this past year,” Proctor said. “I expect him to get as better as he did this year, next year. That’s scary. He doesn’t have a limit. He can go as far as he wants to go. He just has to stay humble, which he will, and keep working, which he will.”

Runner-ups:

2. Rashaun Moore, Shooting Guard, Senior., Southside

3. Donshae Miller, Point Guard, Senior., Southside