When James Demery committed to St. Joe's last fall, observers within North Carolina noted that the Hawks might have gotten a steal. The athletic wing had emerged as a freshman and impressed at the Carolina Classic, among other events.
From there, he transferred from the eastern part of the state to Charlotte (N.C.) Northside Christian Academy and built on a solid reputation, ultimately drawing serious interest from Miami, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and others, in addition to the Hawks.
The first thing to note about Demery's 2013-14 campaign is that he played for a dominant, very talented team. NCA lost gamely to Montverde (Fla.) Academy but generally pounded their opposition, and the blowouts hampered individual stats.
Moreover, Charlotte signee Keyshawn Woods also is a high-major level talent and commanded attention of his own. Still, Demery authored more than a sufficient number of moments to justify his place at St. Joe's.
He's a truly sterling athlete who also has a strong frame, making him very effective in transition. He's an excellent one-footed leaper and initiates contact gleefully with opposing big men.
His defensive potential may be even better. Demery uses his athletic attributes and length to waylay opposing slashers, as he's typically both quicker and stronger than his opposite number. Meanwhile, his aggressive style should enable him to fight through screens off the ball to deny easy passes to open shooters.
In halfcourt offense, Demery still has improvements to make. He's an okay ballhandler but is a subpar jump shooter, clearly his greatest deficit in advance of college. Ironing out his stroke will be critical long-term if he's going to advance to the professional ranks.
Still, a potentially ace defender, tough guy and athletic, freelance scorer can play for a lot of teams, and this season he proved he can thrive in the team concept for a powerful club as well. Demery should continue to excel at the next level.