Many eyes are on MHS’s do-it-all standout Adrian
IN SEPTEMBER, Morgantown High junior Nathan Adrian became the first commitment to WVU’s 2013 basketball recruiting class. He also became the first Morgantown basketball player to receive a scholarship offer from WVU since Jay Jacobs, in 1956, in most people’s memory including Jacobs himself.
Adrian’s future with the Mountaineers makes him quite buzzworthy. During MHS’s season opener, against Preston, on Wednesday, there were noticeably more media on hand that at a typical high school basketball game. Fans seemed to cheer especially loudly when Adrian was introduced. And when he sent a blocked shot three rows deep into the stands, the MHS gym became electric.
In general, his every moved was met with a sense of anticipation by the crowd.
My guess is that attention will become more trend than phenomenon as the season rolls on. Adrian said he’s already been approached by fans while tailgating at WVU football games. As the years go on and his freshman year at WVU draws closer, that attention will only increase.
He had no problem dealing with the added attention in Game 1. Adrian picked up a double-double (25 points and 18 rebounds), three blocks and a steal. He was 10 of 20 from the floor and 3 of 7 from 3-point range.
What shocked me was how simple he made it look. “I can’t say it was easy,” Adrian said with grin. “But I did it, I guess.”
Afterward, in the MHS locker room, Adrian spoke about the extra attention opposing teams and fans will undoubtedly be paying him this season.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of pressure, but I try not to think about it too much,” he said. “I just try to push it off to the side and play.”
Of course, it’s not just Adrian who will have extra eyes on him. His teammates will as well.
Adrian doesn’t think that will be an issue. “I think they’ll be all right,” he said with a laugh.
I’m sure he’s right.
Being in the spotlight also means Adrian’s game will go under the microscope. And although he has undeniable tools, he’s far from a finished product.
“I still have to get better at handling the ball and need to reduce my turnovers,” Adrian said.
“He still has a lot of things to learn,” said Tom Yester, who has been on the MHS bench for 30 years as boys’ basketball coach and had two other players earn Division I college scholarships — Nate Smith, who graduated in 1993 and went to American University, and Tyler Benson, who graduated in 2004 and went to St. Bonaventure.
“His foul shooting wasn’t good (against Preston). He had too many turnovers. I think he had three in the first quarter, but he settled down after that,” Yester said. “But, he gives you a 3-4 threat, he gives you a post threat and he’s certainly a good passer.”
Which brings me to my next point: Adrian is listed as 6-foot-9, 190 pounds. He moves well, is a beast on the boards and is also the Mohigans’ best 3-point shooter. With the way he moves around on the court, it’s difficult to get a grasp of which position he’s actually playing.
So, I asked Yester. His answer? All of them.
Adrian, Yester said, is a small forward, power forward or center. “But, he could play [shooting guard] if he had to. Or [point guard]. Really, he could play any position. We’re starting him at [power forward]. But, we let our [power forward] pretty much play like a [small forward].”
In other words, no matter what kind of basketball you like, Adrian can give it to you. And with the number of people who’ll be watching him, it appears he’ll have a little something for everyone.
ERIC HANLON is a sports reporter for The Dominion Post. Write to him at .