SETH — Things are looking up for the Sherman High boys basketball team.
The Class A Boone County squad (7-3) owes much of their early success on the hardwood to junior guard A.J. Skeens, who is experiencing a break-out year for the maroon and gold.
The 6-foot scorer has displayed a penchant for finding the hoop on the perimeter and in the paint. He’s averaging 20.3 ppg through 10 games while pouring in 28 versus both Tug Valley and Gilmer County.
Along with fellow guard Dalton Rollo they’ve provided Sherman with a formidable 1-2 scoring punch.
On the defensive end, the instinctive Skeens is averaging 3.3 steals per game.
“A.J. is one of the most respectful, energetic and coachable players I’ve had the honor to be around,” said third-year head coach Aaron Pauley. “His motor just doesn’t quit. His overall game just keeps improving. He’s been doing a little bit of everything night in and night out. He leads our team in steals and points.”
Pauley added, “Defensively we never have to worry about effort from him. He’s going to give you every ounce of energy he has no matter what side of the ball he is on.”
SKeens said that he came into the season with the mindset that he wanted to improve on a solid sophomore campaign that saw him average 9.5 ppg. He wanted to be a better “finisher.”
“I was in the weight room a lot in the off-season and got more explosive, which helped with my finishing at the rim. I also think I’ve improved on ball handling, which was a focus,” he said.
Skeens is quick to talk about his teammates and their journey from finishing 9-6 in 2020-21 with a sectional win over Van to a much bigger plan to advance farther in post-season play.
“I think our team has improved on sharing the ball and being unselfish,” he added. “My teammates seem to always find me in transition which is very unselfish of them. And my coaches also have helped our whole team with skill-related work and they have turned us into great young men. I thank God for the ability to play this game.”
Skeens’ points have come from multiple sources. Some come from leak-outs, from steals, catch-and-shoot and/or one-dribble pull ups while creating his own shot off the floor when needed.
“We are fortunate to have him knocking down some shots, but his success is partly from his teammates getting him the ball,” Pauley echoed. “We have some good penetrating players that are looking to make that extra pass and are finding A.J. at the right times. All our guys are also finding him leaking out after we create a turnover.”
Skeens has future plans in his sights, but he has unfinished business to take care of on the hardwood first.
“My plans after high school are to attend college and become a physical education teacher,” he concluded.
Sherman is scheduled to play at Tug Valley on Jan. 20 and return home to host Gilmer County at 4 p.m. on Jan. 22.