Bullock Goes Out in Style

RALEIGH, N.C. --- Despite all the other accolades he's received during his senior season, Reggie Bullock's main focus has been on winning another state title. That goal was accomplished in style Saturday at Reynolds Coliseum.

Kinston High School won the NCHSAA 2A championship game in a rout, 51-29, over West Caldwell.

"It means a lot to me – coming out winning a state championship and leaving my mark my senior year," said Bullock, whose Kinston squad also took home a state title two years ago. "I'm glad to be a part of the McDonald's All-American [team], the Jordan Brand [Classic] and the USA [Hoop Summit], but what's more special to me is leaving my mark with my teammates and winning a state championship with them."

Considering its in-state dominance this season, and its decided height and talent advantage over West Caldwell, Kinston was a heavy favorite to win Saturday, but a shaky start had the outcome in doubt for over a quarter. Bullock missed five of his first six shots and the Vikings trailed until midway through the second quarter.

"We picked up our transition defense, we got out on breaks, we found teammates with passes under the basket," Bullock said of the second quarter surge. "We turned it up on a different level from the first quarter and the last three quarters.

"I knew [my shot] was going to come around – I know my teammates will find me and my shot will start falling. Shooters shouldn't stop shooting, so I kept shooting and I finally started knocking them down and did other things – rebounding, finding other players for easy points and getting out on transition and filling the defensive lane for steals.

Once Kinston grabbed its first lead at 15-14, it never looked back, outscoring West Caldwell 27-10 in the second and third quarters combined.

West Caldwell's 29 total points were the fewest scored in a North Carolina championship game since 1950.

Bullock finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and three steals, shooting 5-for-13 from the field.

"I knew right after my freshman year that I had to be the person to lead Kinston to big things," Bullock said. "My teammates helped me with it a lot and I thank them a lot. I really can't believe my Kinston career is over."

Bullock surpassed the 2,000 career point mark in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game. His head coach at Kinston reflected on the impact made by the star senior.

"He's a special, special guy," Wells Gulledge said. "It's hard to just speak completely for him and not the other seniors, but at the same time I will say that Reggie has had a phenomenal career at Kinston high school … I don't think there's anything at Kinston High School that he did not accomplish as a high school basketball player this year – you can go down the list from McDonald's All-American, USA Team, Jordan Brand Classic, and tonight's state championship."

Throughout his career, outside influences tried to pull Bullock away from Kinston – there were ongoing questions of whether he'd head to a bigger city or a more prominent hoops program – but he stayed loyal to his hometown, and has two state titles to show for it.

"Along the way there are a lot of people tugging at big-time athletes and telling them where to go – ‘You need to be here' and ‘you need to be playing there' – but … I don't think you could have yanked [Reggie] out of Kinston with a tow truck," Gulledge said. "Our city is very proud of not only Reggie but our basketball program in general."

Bullock had his future coach and a future teammate in attendance Saturday. UNC head coach Roy Williams was seated courtside and fellow Tar Heel signee Kendall Marshall made the trip as well, offering words of encouragement beforehand and congratulations afterward.

"[Kendall] texted me earlier, ‘Big time players make big time plays in big time games' and I was thinking about that in the pre-game," Bullock said. "I'm glad he came down from Virginia to support me. Hopefully this will be the first recruiting class to go to Carolina where all the players win the state championship. Kendall won his state championship, I won mine and hopefully Harrison [Barnes] can win his tonight."

The Tar Heels' disappointing season was admittedly tough for Bullock to watch, but he's ready to do his part to produce a different outcome in 2010-11.

"It makes me more eager to get out there," he said. "We didn't have one of the best years, but hopefully with the recruiting class coming in we can turn things around."

And with all his high school objectives achieved, a new set of goals await in Chapel Hill.

"[The state championship] was the best thing I wanted to do and I accomplished it," Bullock said. "The next jersey I'll be putting on is a Carolina uniform and hopefully we'll do the same things there."

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