In a basketball landscape often populated by chest-beating, jersey-popping stars, Butler High Schoolâ€™s Demetrius McReynolds is a standout who possesses an uncommon quality: reticence.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound shooting guard has the tools: pure shot, vertical explosiveness, chiseled frame.
And the numbers: 20.6 points per game, 9.4 rebounds, 53.2 percent shooting from the field, 39.5 percent from behind the arc.
What the mild-mannered senior doesnâ€™t have is even a trace of the arrogance so frequently excused, even heralded, as swagger.
â€œEven though heâ€™s a big-time player, he just plays within himself and doesnâ€™t worry about all the hype and attention,â€ said longtime teammate RaShawn Farrell. â€œHe does what he needs to do.â€
Donâ€™t confuse his reserved demeanor on the court with indifference, though.
â€œI play with passion. I just donâ€™t show it,â€ McReynolds explained. â€œIâ€™ve always been like that.â€
Known to his teammates as â€œMeechie,â€ the three-year starter is the most prolific cog on a Butler squad that, at 5-1 entering this week, is off to the programâ€™s best start since 2003-04.
â€œHeâ€™s probably the best shooter Iâ€™ve ever coached,â€ said Bears coach Shawn Purlee. â€œHeâ€™s got the green light to shoot it every time he catches it.â€
Butler, a team with no starters taller than 6-foot-2, began the season in the shadows of Sixth Region heavyweights Bullitt East and PRP, but a tight loss to the Chargers on the road (57-61 on Dec. 4) and an overtime upset of the Panthers (66-64 on Dec. 7) served notice that the bantam squad had found ways to compensate.
â€œWeâ€™re small and we think we can outrun everybody, so every time we step on the court we think we can win,â€ said McReynolds, whose game meshes well with the high-tempo style of play.
â€œIt helps us that he can grab a rebound and lead the break,â€ said Purlee. â€œHe can do all the things perimeter players need to do. Heâ€™s strong at finishing so if he does attack the rim he can absorb contact and finish.â€
Flanking McReynolds in a balanced attack are Farrell, a 6-foot-1 senior point guard averaging 9.8 points and sophomore guard Jeremiah Bell (12.4 ppg., 3.6 apg.). Will Johnson, another sophomore guard, is chipping in 9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds a game as well.
On defense McReynolds is tasked with stopping the opposing teamâ€™s tallest player. â€œI just use my quickness to get around them and donâ€™t let them post me up,â€ McReynolds said.
Although he counts Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose as his favorite pros, McReynolds said his biggest influence has been Antonio Sullivan, a cousin who starred at Iroquois and is now a senior at Kentucky State.
â€œ(I admire) the way he shoots, creates his shot and his work ethic,â€ said McReynolds.
College ball is on the horizon for McReynolds, too. Although he is still waiting for his first scholarship offer, Samford, Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky and Murray State have all shown interest.
â€œI think heâ€™s ready to go to the next level,â€ said Purlee. â€œIf heâ€™ll buy in to everything in college, he could be that guy who could go overseas and play somewhere because basketball is that much of a passion for him.â€
*Mercyâ€™s Courtney Crable has been named Gatorade Kentucky Volleyball Player of the Year. The junior outside hitter tallied 635 kills, 88 blocks and 96 service aces in leading the Jaguars (33-10) to the state final.
*The Canfield Development King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic basketball tournament got underway Wednesday and will run through Sunday. The event, hosted by Fairdale, features 10 teams in the Lexington Herald-Leaderâ€™s preseason coachesâ€™ poll. Here is the slate:
No. 20 Collins vs. No. 7 Hopkinsville, 4:30 p.m.
Fairdale vs. Apollo, 6 p.m.
No. 4 Madison Central vs. No. 22 St. Xavier, 7:30 p.m.
No. 1 Ballard vs. No. 25 Butler, 9 p.m.
Nashville Christ Presbyterian vs. Philadelphia Electric & Technical, 4:30 p.m.
No. 3 Trinity vs. Phoenix Mountain Pointe, 6 p.m.
No. 2 Bullitt East vs. No. 17 Bowling Green, 7:30 p.m.
No. 6 PRP vs. Brooklyn (N.Y.) South Shore, 9 p.m.
Quarters (West gym), 4:30, 6, 7:30 and 9 p.m.
Consolation games (East gym), 4:30, 6, 7:30 and 9 p.m.
Semis, 7:30 and 9 p.m.
Consolation games, 4:30, 6, 7:30 and 9 p.m.
Seventh place, 3 p.m.
Fifth place, 4:30 p.m.
Third place, 6 p.m.
Final, 7:30 p.m.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Tim Porco | Sweet Spot Photos