Chris Cheney knows basketball. As the head coach of the Patterson School in Lenoir, North Carolina since 2005 and before that, the highly successful coach of Lauringburg Prep, Cheney has seen a lot of basketball and has won a whole lot of basketball games.
Consider some of his accomplishments, all before the age of fifty. Cheney came into this season with 524 career wins. At the same age, all-time high school win leader Morgan Wooten had 340 wins. Cheney's teams won the 2003, 2005 and 2006 national prep school championships. His 2005 Laurinburg team, led by Memphis star Joey Dorsey, went 40-0 and is considered the greatest prep school team ever. He has coached more than 100 players who went on to play Division I ball, and eight players who played in the NBA. So, there is no question that Chris Cheney knows basketball.
Cheney's current Patterson squad is 20-0 and ranked number one nationally among prep schools. The North Carolina power has already beaten Oak Hill Academy, Laurinburg, Notre Dame Prep, MCI, South Kent and Hargrave Academy, among others. Not many have kept the score close. Patterson is loaded, and Providence College received a verbal commitment from the prep school's point guard, Vincent Council, a 6'2, 180 pounder, on Tuesday.
"Vincent has brought a lot of stability to our team," Coach Cheney told ScoutFriars.com. "He is our leader by example on the basketball court. He's really stepped it up this year and has become one of the better point guards in the country. He's like an NFL quarterback out there."
Council transferred from Lincoln High in Brooklyn, New York, where he averaged 7.9 ppg and 7.8 assists last season, while playing alongside high school superstar Lance Stephenson and frontcourt star James Padgett. Although overshadowed by Stephenson and at times, Padgett, Council opted to test his skills at a school with even more talent, far from his New York City home.
"We push him really hard here," said Cheney. "We pay attention to detail. And he's responded to our pushing and has done a good job of getting better. The talent has always been there, but we develop it."
Council has had a reputation of being a pass-first point guard and Cheney agrees – to a point. "He's definitely a pure point guard and not a scoring point guard. He doesn't force shots and he takes what's there. But when we ask him, he can definitely score it."
While Council has done a good job of improving this season and of getting stronger, further improvement will be tied to his passion for the game and desire to get better. "He really doesn't have a glaring weakness. The key to him is to keep wanting to do it. He took a step up this year. For him, I would say, don't be satisfied, continue to want to make the team better, take the next jump and become a starter in college. Then get your team to the tournament. Then become an all-league player. But he has no glaring weaknesses."
Already the results of moving from Lincoln to the Patterson School are evident. "He's more of a leader with us," Cheney observed. "He's the quarterback of the team. He has more control with us. We've asked more of him, with all due respect, than what they did at Lincoln."
Landing Council, who was also considering Rutgers, which desperately needs point guard help, Arkansas and Central Florida, was no easy task. "Providence did the best job recruiting Vincent. We average ten Division I players a year, and so we see a lot of recruiting, and ultimately the school that does the best job usually ends up with the player. It's the people recruiting him. Keno Davis and Pat Skerry were great in recruiting him. Coach Davis' energy and what he's bringing to the program sold Vincent."
Even then, there was the consideration that the Friars were already bringing in a highly regarded point guard in 5'10 Johnnie Lacy. But that proved not to be an obstacle. "It factored a little into the decision, but we played them (Notre Dame Prep) and beat them pretty good (81-56), and Vincent had a great game, so I think Vincent feels confident that he can do what he needs to do." Council gives Providence a big, physically strong point guard, something the Friars have lacked in recent years.
Council had a chance to check out Providence in November. "We went up as a team," said Cheney. "We saw them beat Sacred Heart (on November 20), when Marshon Brooks scored 30 points. We got to see the Dunkin' Donuts Center, which was great, because we usually just see it on television. They beat that team pretty good."
So far, Council is averaging 12 points and 10 assists per game, and academically, he's on track. "We start classes on Monday and he'll take his first semester exams then, but he's doing fine. He's the type of kid that everyone at school likes," concluded Cheney.
Council becomes the Friars' sixth member of what has been a highly successful first recruiting class for Keno Davis and staff, and Providence still has one more scholarship to give. But if you listen to Chris Cheney – and everyone in basketball circles listens when Coach Cheney speaks - the Friars have landed an important piece of the puzzle.
An Interview With Vincent Council's Coach
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