Lacey Excels with Attitude
Along the way the Huntsville native has treaded the conventional path chosen by high school basketball's cream of the crop until this fall. The serious road of earning a Division I scholarship is usually a singular linear pursuit of the intended goal without any deviation but sometimes a teenager just wants to have fun.
Trevor Lacey surprised everyone by electing to compete on the gridiron his senior year for the S. R. Butler High School Rebels.
"I played football all my life. It is my favorite sport. My Dad had talked me out of playing the last two years. This is my last year and I decided to leave high school with a bang," he said.
Fourteen receptions in one game is a loud statement. Wide receiver is the position of choice and his favorite even though Head Football Coach Dean Sanders occasionally substitutes the superb athlete at quarterback. The love of the game stems from being able to dodge your opponent.
"You can juke people in football. You really can't do that very much in basketball without walking, carrying the ball or double-dribbling," he explained.
Allen Iverson was an early model but the maturation of his 6'4", 210 pound body eliminated those comparisons to the smaller break down point guard. "People started telling me I favored Magic Johnson when I was younger," he said. He blossomed into a scoring guard over time to compliment the excellent court vision and playmaking abilities. "He's so smooth and strong when he gets in the lane. He's ambidextrous around the basket," said S. R. Butler High School Head Basketball Coach Jack Doss. "Defensively he has a good mind for help side and understanding picks."
The level-headed three-time All-State performer has an honest self-image of his skills and athletic capabilities. "I like LeBron (James) but I know I'm not going to be on that freak athlete level," admitted the 2009 Class 5A tourney MVP. Lacey participated in the elite skills camp of NBA mentors LeBron James, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams. A third person self scouting report by Lacey is candid. "Offensively, last year he liked to break down and get people involved. Now he likes to create his shot. He still gets people involved but shoots it better now. When he does play defense, he's very solid but he tends to take breaks on defense." Alleviating lapses of intensity are a priority on the self-improvement agenda. "I'm going to try and have triple doubles with points, rebounds and assists. I'm going to try and break some school and state records," he said about the upcoming season goals.
His summer AAU teammate was the Scout.com number one shooting guard Austin Rivers. The recent Duke Blue Devil commitment monopolized the opposition's attention thus allowing Lacey to emerge. "I'm just this little Alabama guy who can also score. I had a lot of big number games because they were focusing on him (Rivers). They would catch on to me late and let me get in my rhythm," he acknowledged. "When a good player gets in rhythm he makes tough shots and can get going." The traveling show was educational as well as reaffirming. "I learned I can play well with other players who are just as good or better. I don't feel jealous or left out if he gets all the spotlight or accolades. As long as we are winning and I play team ball, that is all that matters."
A right knee torn lateral meniscus prevented Butler from three-peating as Alabama Class 5A State Champions. A normal two-and-a-half month rehab was accelerated to three weeks following the post-season surgery. School enrollment has precipitated a reclassification to the 4A level for the 2010-11 season.
The recruiting double-talk has been noted by the discerning highly sought after prospect. "Sometime they tell you what you want to hear. Some coaches let you know what is really going to happen. You're going to have to earn your spot. There are no guarantees or promises." Unofficially he has visited Alabama, Auburn, Memphis, Mississippi State, Tennessee, UCLA and Virginia.
"I want to sign in the spring because I want to take my official visits," he said. Tuscaloosa has been the weekend destination for the Penn State and Florida games thus far.
He has a passion for people and follows through with a civic commitment garnering him hero status amongst the younger kids. "I like to watch CSI Miami. I'm a forensic science guy. I play video games, PS3. I like to help out around the community with the youth games," Lacey said. He displays a sense of humor around teammates and has been known to imitate the hand gestures, facial contortions and shoulder shrugging of the well-liked taskmaster Doss. Business Management and Forensic Science are majors he is considering but with coaching as a fall back career, he may opt for Physical Education. He realizes a Division I scholarship is a two-way street and possesses intangibles a coach covets. "Respectful and grateful for everything I receive. I'll go hard every chance unless there is a sickness or illness or a reason I couldn't. I would show so much respect and never disrespect or show attitude," said the young man who describes himself as plain and simple.
The family bloodlines are pumping with basketball. Parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have excelled on the hardwood. All are interested observers of the latest legacy. His uncle, former Butler High School and Vanderbilt alum, Howard Pride, once was a member of the Alabama administrative staff under former Head Coach Mark Gottfried. "Trevor's game will translate well to the college level because he can do so many different things. Like me, Trevor comes in with the opportunity to play right away because of his size and strength. A lot of guys have to find a position and get stronger. He has a definite position on the next level and he has the strength to play the position that is going to allow him to contribute as a freshman," said the 6'3" former Commodore point guard and 1993 Alabama "Mr. Basketball". "He shoots the ball extremely well and is a playmaker. He is selfless and can make the big pass. There is not one aspect of the game he is lacking," said Pride praising his nephew's versatility. "I would like to see him be more assertive offensively. There are times when he is a tad bit passive."
His reticent nature is unique in this age of boastful prima donnas. "He's a gentle giant, a selfless young man and very charismatic to a fault. He is like a magnet and a sponge. People want to be around him because he is so mild-mannered and so well liked," said the proud uncle.
Lacey is an independent thinker electing to forego all the naysayers and participate in an Alabama autumn ritual, football. The same balanced life perspective permeates on the court during crunch time. Doss praises his star pupil's poise. He is a clutch performer second to none according to the six time championship coach including four titles with Butler. Late in an Alabama-Huntsville team camp game Lacey scorched Class 6A State Champion Bob Jones High School (Madison) with eighteen straight points on his way to a 43 point scoring barrage. "He hit three from the volleyball line which is about twenty-five feet out," Doss said. Pride claims his nephew is a nice "assassin" on the court. "Some guys are mean. With Trevor, you really have to get him mad before you see the venom come out of him. I would say don't make him mad," he recommended.
On a September afternoon, Dad, William Pride, was swishing three pointers from the top of the key with ease on the main basket during a shoot around while the son practiced wind mill dunks on the side goal. Occasionally Lacey lofted a shot from a distance measuring longer than a man's stride beyond the three point arc. String music blared from the nets as often as someone practicing from the free-throw line. Doss claims, "He has the best range of anybody I've ever coached in thirty-five years." Pride has scrutinized every measured step of his son's development. As early as the third grade, he recognized the son's prodigy potential competing against the more physically mature older children.
The multi-dimensional skill set although impressive is eclipsed by Lacey's attitude. "He shares the basketball with his teammates. It's not about him but everyone on the court. He communicates to have the players in position to run the offense," Pride professed. Patience is a virtue Lacey displays on the court. He prefers to hoist shots during the flow of the offensive sets unless called upon to work his magic. Lacey's willingness to execute a play top-rated prospects usually avoid reflects his commitment to the team. "Defensively, he is not afraid to take a charge which you don't see that much in the game today," said Pride a defensive wizard for Doss at Butler High School before competing at Wallace State. "He needs to get a little quicker on his feet but communicates very well on the defensive end."
Alabama's Anthony Grant made the pilgrimage north to Huntsville for a home visit on September 9th. "I had fun over the dinner table and the visit went well. I enjoyed talking to him about basketball and things outside the game. We have a wonderful relationship," Pride said. "The demands he required from his players to know they are going to get a good education was impressive to me. On the court I know he would push Trevor because watching the talent he had on the team this year he had his kids playing real hard."
Pride enjoyed the initial euphoric recruiting rush but is ready for the process to be completed. "I hope he goes and gets it over with in November because I want him to enjoy his senior year but if not we will wait until spring." Alabama, Auburn, Kansas, Kentucky and UConn made the final cut with all being equal in the eyes of Lacey. "The style of play for one is important because he wants to be in an offense that fits," Pride emphasized. "It's his decision. I can't play for him. He has to go out and get the job done."
A scripture passage is read aloud ever day before practice from the FCA coaches' Bible. Vocabulary expansion is part of the daily training as well with a new word written on the board. The coach who drives a vintage 1966 Chevrolet pickup painted "victory red" has the locker room emblazoned with the words "Butler Basketball Where Champions Are A Tradition" splashed on the wall. Visitors could easily mistake the school's gymnasium for a small college facility due to the abundant seating capacity and mesmerizing atmosphere. Championship, All-American and All-State banners hailing the program's success drape the rafters within view of every sightline.
The decorated hoop sanctuary has been Lacey's laboratory for three years. He probed his coach for knowledge, cultivated every basketball skill and dissected opponents in preparation for the next level of experimentation in Division I. Future challenges will not deprive him of success. Lacey discovered the most powerful athletic compound is the merging of talent and competitive attitude to produce a winning formula. The school inking his signature will have one less equation to teach.
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