‘Nova recruit shines is losing effort

James Evans

While everyone was still hooting and hollering about Villanova’s loss to West Virginia on Sunday, one of ‘Nova’s future big men was on show at the Pavilion. Six-foot-eight-inch forward Will Sheridan of Sanford took the court, hoping to impress the crowd in the Scholastic Play-By-Play II. Sanford was facing off against Friends Central, a team led by the highly-touted Mustafa Shakur, considered the No.1 prep point guard in the nation. Shakur has already signed to play at Arizona next year.

It was obvious from the start that these players wanted to perform for the fans and prove that they were as good as expected. Shakur showed his explosive scoring ability as he put up a quick six. Sheridan came out of the blocks smoking, not only on offense but on defense as well. He blocked three shots, including a swat on Shakur, gobbled up three boards and put in five points.

One of the highlights of the first quarter was when Sanford guard Dexter Matthews connected with Sheridan on an alley-oop slam. However, as the first quarter wound down, it was Shakur’s team that held a three-point lead.

The second quarter saw more dominance from Shakur, as he scored five points and dished out three assists. Friends Central held Sheridan at bay, shutting him down from the inside as it implemented its defensive strategy against Sheidan, double-teaming him when he didn’t have the ball and triple-teaming him when he did.

Even though Sheridan was not an offensive factor, he still stepped up on the defensive end, recording another three blocks and bringing in two more boards.

However, this was Central’s quarter, and Shakur put an exclamation point on the end of it as he stole the ball then went the length of the court and, with an emphatic-one handed slam, led his team into half time with a 36-23 lead.

The start of the second half saw more basket trading by each team, as no one really stepped up to dominate. Sheridan collected four points, three boards and a block, but as the buzzer sounded, Central still held a double digit lead, 45-34.

Sanford came out smoking in the fourth quarter and Sheridan led the way as he scored nine points. The team started to finally dump the ball down low to its big man and rely less on its outside game. However, Shakur took on the role of point guard and was able to dribble circles around Sanford’s players, breaking their ankles. Sanford went on a run and had cut the lead down to four after a lay-up by Sheridan, but then Shakur dribbled right down the court, penetrated and dished off to a teammate for an easy two that killed Sanford’s run and its chances for a victory. The final score was 58-52 in favor of Friends Central.

After the game, they announced the MVPs of each team and, to no one’s surprise, they were both Sheridan and Shakur. Sheridan’s final line on the day was 18 points, 11 boards and seven blocks, while Shakur finished with 16 points and seven assists.

Next year, with the loss of forwards Andrew Sullivan and Ricky Wright to graduation, there is no doubt that the ‘Cats will be looking for a big man to line up with Jason Fraser and Marcus Austin, and they have found it in Sheridan.

Sheridan is an athletic big man with good hands and a smooth stroke from the free throw line. Also, his ability to turn away people’s shot will make ‘Nova opponents next year think twice before driving down the lane. The ‘Cats also add strength in the rebounding department. With the departure of Wright, a consistent seven- boards-a game player, Sheridan is sure to pick up the slack, as he can control the boards on both sides of the court.