MHS’s Adrian grows into game
Coach Yester: Colleges ‘are looking at him’
The Dominion Post
THE NO. 6 MOHIGANS host John Marshall at 7:30 p.m. today.
Basketball fans in the Morgantown area will always have soft spots in their hearts for big men who can hit 3-pointers.
After all, it wasn’t too long ago that one of WVU’s all-time great 3-point shooters, 6-foot-11 center Kevin Pittsnogle, routinely graced the Coliseum floor.
Pittsnogle’s ability to score from the outside created mismatches that helped lead the Mountaineers on a magical run to the Elite Eight of the 2005 NCAA tournament.
Now, the area may have another up-and-coming big man who specializes behind the arc in 6-foot-8, 189-pound Morgantown High sophomore Nathan Adrian.
Despite being just 15 years old and in his first season as a starter for the No. 6 Mohigans (4-1), Adrian is already drawing attention from Division I-A universities.
“People are looking at him — Georgetown, West Virginia and others. That’s what they do for a living. They look early,” MHS head coach Tom Yester said. “They always look for that diamond in the rough.”
Adrian has a unique skill set for his size, which makes him an appealing prospect.
“I think he’s rated the 91st sophomore in the country,” by different recruiting services, Yester said. “I think the difference in Nate is how he plays in the open court. Nate can put it on the floor for a 6-8 kid and he can shoot the 3.”
In fact, Adrian, who leads MHS with six 3-pointers through five games, says he’s more comfortable playing on the outside.
“It makes it easier because [opposing teams] have to guard me outside-in so I can do whatever I want,” Adrian said. “Outside is the stronger part of my game.” That’s not to say Adrian can’t play in the post. He just admits he needs some work inside.
“He’s not a bad post up player because he’s quick. It’s the mismatch,” Yester said. “He’s not big yet, but we hope he gets there. He is only 15. I’d like to see him put on about 30 pounds, and he has time to do that.”
In October, Adrian was invited to attend the USA Men’s Developmental National Team mini-camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Co.
At the mini-camp were 15 of the nation’s top-rated sophomores and 18 elite freshmen.
The mini-camp was held to help identify players for the 2011-’12 USA Basketball Developmental National Team program and to prepare the U.S. for the 2011 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) U16 Championship tournament.
“They’re going to invite 20 people back,” Adrian said. “There were some good [players] there. I’m supposed to find out in the spring if I made it.”
Regardless if he is chosen or not, Adrian looks back on the experience as a good one.
“We flew out to Colorado Springs, stayed at a dorm in the USA Olympic training facilities and practiced six times in two days for two hours each,” he said. “It showed me what’s out there and what competition there is and makes me better prepared.”
Although Adrian is only midway through his first season as a starter, Yester says he was deserving of the opportunity.
“I was a little surprised I guess, but not overly,” Yester said. “I mean, I come to these things like the Jam Fest and I saw the kid at Tennessee — Tobias Harris [15.7 points per game for the Volunteers] — and he was playing in our gym last year for an AAU team. Now Nathan is that tall rangy kid people are looking for that can do more than just post up.
In order to be eligible for the USA Basketball Developmental National Team, an athlete must be a U.S. citizen born on or after Jan. 1, 1995. Adrian won’t turn 16 until after the Mohigans’ season is over.
In time, Yester believes Adrian can develop into a well-rounded player. The MHS coach sees a lot of potential in his sophomore forward.
“He’s played like a guard. He’ll probably be a forward in college,” Yester said. “If you watch [6-foot-9 senior Chandler] Parsons from Florida, I think he’ll be like that, except I think he handles the ball better than Parsons potentially, because he’s only 15. By the time he’s 18 or 19, he should be a lot stronger and more refined in his game.”
Parsons (10.8 points per game) has the Gators’ second-best 3-point shooting percentage (43 percent) and also leads the team in rebounding (6.7 per game). Adrian has similar numbers — shooting 38 percent from 3-point range, and averaging 12 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Nathan Adrian

Bob Gay/The Dominion Post file photo
Nathan Adrian (right) is averaging 12 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore.