By Langston Wertz Jr.
TODD SUMLIN – email@example.com
As I watched Burlington Cummings High junior J.T. Terrell score 52 points Monday against Concord at the Bojangles' Shootout, I couldn't help comparing him to North Carolina guard Wayne Ellington.
Four years ago, I saw Ellington's silky smooth jump shot and all-around game at this same tournament and thought I was watching a future college star.
Watching Terrell, whose team will play Myers Park in an 8:30 p.m. semifinal today, I think I'm watching another.
Terrell, 6-foot-3, 175 pounds and committed to Wake Forest, has a very Ellington-like jump shot and soft touch. He made seven of 12 3-point attempts. He made 18 of 25 shots overall, and he did it against a Concord (9-1) team whose record is 111-17 the past five seasons.
I also noticed Terrell handles the ball well and is extremely athletic. Starting flat-footed, he dunks with ease from under the goal.
“ …Dang, I want to go out right now and pay my $12 for what I just watched,” a gracious Concord coach Scott Brewer said. “That's the first time I've seen him, but 52 points? Jiminy Cricket! I saw Wake Forest assistant coach (Pat) Kelsey and (head coach Dino) Gaudio out here and they've got to be liking what they saw.”
Terrell drove to the basket for layups with high degrees of difficulty. He had rebound-dunks over taller players. He drove the length of the floor. He did commit seven turnovers and didn't play the greatest defense, but he put on one of the best three performances I've seen at this tournament.
The other two belong to a pair who are now playing professionally : Ivory Latta (WNBA's Atlanta Dream) and Raymond Felton (NBA's Bobcats).
I can see why the late Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser offered this kid a scholarship shortly after his freshman season.
“I've always been able to shoot it well. I started shooting when I started walking,” said Terrell, whose given name is James Thomas. His father, James “Trigger'' Terrell, is a former Charlotte 49ers star. “(Monday), I was feeling it, but we did a good job of playing within the offense.”
Terrell averages 27 points this season, but he's scored 43, 41 and 52 during in his most recent games.
“He's phenomenal,” Cummings coach George Robinson said. “Whenever we need a bucket, he gets it. He's got a way of putting the biscuit in the basket, and he's been doing that since he was a freshman. And right now he's playing with so much confidence.”
I asked Robinson if Terrell reminded him of Ellington.
“I made that observation a few years ago,” Robinson said. “I don't want to say J.T.'s got a higher ceiling than Wayne. They are comparable, but J.T. has a few more pieces to his game and, like Wayne, I think he's got a chance to be really, really special.”
Langston Wertz Jr.: 704-358-5133; firstname.lastname@example.org