Terry's Roller Coaster Ride

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- North Carolina basketball fans have heard the words "roller coaster ride" frequently this year in reference to a season full of ups and downs. In Reyshawn Terry's case, there couldn't be a better term to describe his past two years.

Terry's ride began in late January 2002. An unheralded leading scorer for 3-A Kernersville (N.C.) Glenn High School, he transferred to Winston-Salem (N.C.) R.J. Reynolds, a 4-A powerhouse vying for its third-straight state championship.

Coaches began attending his games and were intrigued by his ability to shoot, handle, and defend at an explosively athletic 6-7. His MVP performance in the Demons' third-straight state championship victory shot his name up the ranking lists. Throw in an AAU national championship with Chris Paul and the Kappa Magic over the summer, and Terry accepted an offer to play for North Carolina.

State Championship
March 2002

It only took seven months, but Terry was riding high and looking to continue his ascent.

This season, Reynolds returned nine seniors, including four players 6-7 or above, in its quest for a fourth-straight state championship.

"I just knew my senior year was going to be a bang," Terry said.

Instead, this year's 17-11 campaign was more of a shock to the senior star and his teammates, who, for whatever reason, could not come together like the three squads before them.

"With last year's team, we were a lot hungrier than we were this year," Terry said. "We had a whole bunch of team chemistry, everybody loved each other, and this year we didn't seem to be a team unit that had that chemistry.

"To be honest, I really can't say [what went wrong]. Everybody basically had their own opinion about everything. Teams came out to play us this year wanting it more and they did what they had to do."

Terry got the Demons off to a hot start, averaging 20 points per game as the team won its first four games. However, after a stunning 75-72 loss in a rematch with local rival Mount Tabor, Terry's scoring dropped like an anchor and took the ship down with it.

Boo Williams Tourney
April 2002

Reynolds lost two of three against nationally-ranked competition at the Academy National Invitational in Houston, then bowed out of the winner's bracket in the first round of the Dell Curry Shootout in Charlotte. Plagued by poor shooting and foul trouble, Terry averaged only 5.8 points during the four-game stretch, one that probably cost him a spot on postseason all-star teams.

He picked up his play as Reynolds won nine of its next ten games, mostly conference play. But the Demons hit the wall again as the postseason approached, dropping six of its last nine games in a disappointing finish that included three losses to Paul's West Forsyth team, a one-game suspension for Terry in the first round of the state playoffs and a two-point loss to Person in the second round.

"I'm still hurting. I thought I could have done a whole lot better being a leader this year," Terry said. "Just leading by example, and also playing 100 percent and being consistent every game. But you have to look to the future."

Despite the obvious downs, there were still plenty of ups for a player long described as inconsistent.

He bounced back in the consolation game of the Dell Curry event to score 27 points against talented Laurinburg. He showed no fear against LeBron James and St. Vincent St. Mary's, taking it right to the NBA-bound phenom with several impressive slashing moves and midrange jumpers before foul trouble sent him to the bench. He showed his ability to shoot consistently from the foul line, hitting over 80 percent on the season, something that Tar Heel fans should welcome with open arms.

Tournament of Champions
May 2002

He also had a chance to improve his ball-handling, as Reynolds lacked a veteran floor-leader to fill the role vacated by the graduation of Whit Holcombe-Faye, the Big South Conference Freshman of the Year at Radford.

"I think I kind of played out of position, and that put a hinder on what I could do for the team on the court and in being a leader," Terry said. "I had to play some point guard, and it isn't my natural position, but I do feel I can run it if I need to."

Reynolds coach Howard West felt the experience helped Terry improve his overall game.

"He's better at [ball-handling] than he was, but he still has a ways to go," West said. "If anything, it should have been a benefit for him to prepare. Great point guards make everybody better, that's for sure."

As for the rest of Terry's game, West said he still has some work to do before he is ready to be an impact player in the ACC.

"He's going to have to get stronger, be more physical, and he's got to attack the glass. He can't be a pure perimeter player. He's got to attack the rim, and that's both mental and physical."

In the event that Matt Doherty doesn't sign a 2003 big man, Terry will head up a Tar Heel freshman class that won't be depended upon for major minutes for the first time since the 1997-1998 season. Terry is eager for the chance to come in and learn.

Dell Curry Shootout
Jan. 2003

"I'm looking forward to learning a lot about the league and having the chance to learn from my mistakes and not going back to them," Terry said. "Going into the ACC from high school, you have to be so physically and mentally ready every time you step on the court. It's the most physical conference in the country.

Only time will tell if the skilled athlete from Winston-Salem can realize his potential, but time is one thing on his side. For now, Terry can finally step off the roller coaster and prepare for Chapel Hill.

"I'm going to be working on my all-around game over the summer," said Terry, who will wear No. 3 at UNC. "Getting stronger, shooting, defending, dribbling, everything. I expect to work hard every day, be a good defender, and score when my team needs me to, if they need me to, and be willing to make a sacrifice."

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