Tracking the Stars of the Future
Thursday, May 7, 2009
By Thad Mumau
Versatile Gaines brings
pedigree to Pirates
By Thad Mumau
All Rights Reserved.
If all the ingredients for an ideal addition
to a college basketball program could be mixed in a test tube, the result
might very well be Corvonn Gaines.
There have been prospects who could jump
higher and shoot better, and there certainly have been taller and more
athletic players. But there are more things to consider.
Things like attitude, willingness to be
coached and to improve, work ethic and, of course, commitment to the team.
Gaines has all of those, along with a
tremendous basketball IQ, and it’s not like he cannot play the game. Because
The 6-4 combination guard signed a letter of intent with East Carolina this
spring after averaging 14 points, four rebounds and three assists as a
fifth-year senior at Worcester (MA) Academy.
“Corvonn was as good a player as we had on our
team,” said coach Edward Reilly, whose team played an extremely difficult
schedule and sent eight players to Division I schools.
“He is a tremendous facilitator of the
basketball. He has good skills and he can score, but that is not his main
focus. He is very unselfish, and he enjoys making plays and distributing the
ball. I think his strength is getting into the lane and creating for his
teammates. He is very good with the ball in his hands.”
Gaines has been around basketball his whole
life. His brother, Reece Gaines, who is nine years older, was an
All-American at Louisville and a first-round NBA draft pick.
“Corvonn knows how to play,” Reilly said, “and
he is receptive to criticism, to coaching. He wants to be better. He is a
hard worker and is very engaging. Of all the attributes he has, the best is
that he is a good teammate. He is fun to play with because he looks to pass
first and shoot second.
“He brought a terrific attitude to practice
every day. When East Carolina coaches came up to see him play and practice,
they saw the same things.”
Worcester’s final game of the season showcased
Gaines’ all-around abilities as he threw in 18 points, handed out seven
assists, grabbed seven rebounds and added four steals in a 72-66 loss to
“Corvonn kind of took over the game for us,”
Reilly said. “He is capable of that kind of performance, and he can put up
some impressive numbers. I’m not big on stats; I’m big on impact, and he was
one of our top three kids as far as impacting games.
“He shot about 35 percent on three-pointers,
and he is a capable shooter. But that is one of the areas he can improve.
Going to Conference USA, he is going to be tested more. Defenses are going
to try to prevent him from penetrating, and he is going to have to prove he
can make that outside jumper consistently. People will see if he can shoot
“Another thing is that he needs to finish
stronger around the rim. Right now, he is just laying the ball up. He needs
to get in there and dunk it when he can. He has a good body – a Division I
body – and he’s a strong kid.
“I think the extra year will help Corvonn,”
Reilly said. “He grew up in a lot of ways during the season. He is more
mature physically and emotionally. I think East Carolina liked that and was
very attracted to the whole package.
“I think he was under-recruited.”
Gaines received scholarship offers from George
Washington, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Fairfield and the University of Detroit in
addition to the Pirates. He visited all of the schools except Detroit.
“I really hit it off with (ECU assistant)
Darryl LaBarrie,” Gaines said. “We connected. He came to see me play twice
and (head coach) Mack McCarthy came once. All of the East Carolina coaches
are real cool.
“They told me the opportunity is there for me
to play. They didn’t talk about starting, just said that I would have the
chance to earn playing time right away. I’m going in with an open mind and
the idea of being competitive. If I start, I start; if not, then I’ll give
it all I’ve got off the bench. It’s all about the team.”
Gaines averaged 16.9 points, 6.7 assists and
five rebounds per game his senior season at Madison (WI) West High School,
but got scarcely a glance from big-time college coaches.
“I broke an ankle the summer before my senior
year,” he said, “and the college coaches weren’t there after that. That is
why I came to Worcester. I knew we would play tough competition and the
college guys would be watching. I needed the exposure.
“The good thing is that being here has also
raised my maturity level, and that has helped.
“I need to perfect my jump shot,” Gaines said.
“Penetration is my strong point. I see myself as a combo guard. I can play
the two and complement the point guard or I can run the offense. It doesn’t
matter which I play.
“I’m just excited about having the chance to
play for East Carolina.”
05/07/2009 01:38:28 AM