Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday Is Day-Day Day For TCA In Grind Session Win

Conrad Academy's thorough 80-56 dismantling of  22 Feet (S.C.) during the prestigious Grind Session showcase in Orlando had special resonance with Conrad senior guard David "Day Day" Sloan.

Sloan, an unsigned prospect who dropped 19 points and doled out six assists to propel Conrad, was reunited with the old while simultaneously ushering in the new.

Sloan was reunited with first-year 22 Feet head coach Richard Gatewood.

Sloan's former coach and mentor and one time legal guardian, Gatewood's style enabled Sloan to feast on foes as a 20 PPG scorer at Taylor County.

Sloan spoke in depth about his memories playing under Gatewood in Kentucky. He called it a chapter of his life he'll always be fond of. 

There's the time Sloan dropped  34 (on the strength of 10 three-pointers) during a marquee and memorable win over heated rival Campellsville.

 There was the fanfare, the big matchups, the flooded gyms, Friday night games that seemed to shut the whole town down, the hype, and the bragging rights. Sloan inherited some ownership of Gatewood's team, as the tandem helped forge a once-piecemeal team into a respectable program.

There's the game Sloan lit up Central to the tune of a tournament-high 42 points, during the 2015 KOGB. Sloan's poise and deft, yo-yo handle led Taylor County to back to back Fifth region titles. 

As a tactical guard at Taylor County (KY), Sloan was constantly among the veritable "who's who" of prep talents. At one point, Sloan's game garnered the attention of Louisville and other high-majors.

Sloan was listed as the nation's 45th best point guard, according to 247 Sports. 

"I got a chance to speak with coach Gatewood before the game. I was pleased to hear him tell me his kids still look up to me," said Sloan, referencing Cooper, Jett, and Harrison Gatewood.

"We had a great player-coach relationship and I still have a ton of respect for him. With him getting the job at 22 Feet and me coming out here to Orlando we just went separate ways with our lives. He went his way and I went on my way, but the mutual respect is always going to be there."

In facing 22 Feet's Peanut Cunningham, his childhood friend, Sloan had some extra juice.

"We've known each other since the third grade and we are always competitive with each other on the court," said Sloan of Cunningham.

"He's still one of my closest friends. He's been one of my best friends and throughout our lives we've constantly pushed ourselves to work harder because we know we're going to make something out of this hoop life and eventually reap the rewards of all the work."

Louisville is hardly on the same wavelength as traditionally potent basketball breeding grounds such as New York, D.C., Baltimore, Los Angeles, or Indiana, albeit the culture is just as deeply rooted.

D'angelo Russell, who starred at nearby Montverde Academy (FL) before a rapid ascension from Ohio State to the Los Angeles Lakers, is the most recent homegrown product to make the big league.

"I've been wanting it forever, D. Russ has shown a lot of kids from our hometown that we can make it and I'm working hard as ever to be one of the next guys to come out of the city. We have made this game a lifestyle and a tool to our future dreams."

Speaking of future plans, what's next for Sloan?

 Once one of the nation's most highly coveted point guards, Sloan rattled off Texas, Florida Gulf Coast University, Northern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, and Ball State as programs currently expressing interest.

While the win over 22 Feet brought back memories for Sloan, it also gave the veteran a glimpse as to what's next. With Conrad's 6-foot-10 center Austin Wiley finding his way to Auburn via early enrollment, Shaun Wiseman's team must make up 25 points per game.

The onus is on Sloan to call his own number more, operating alongside 6-foot-4 manchild guard Luguentz Dort in the backcourt. Adept at both guard spots,  Dort is known for his proclivity for driving into the teeth of defenses.

"Dave is naturally a creator with his handle and the way he can find us in transition and in between defenders," said Dort, who has been offered by Louisville and Florida and a horde of others.

"With Austin moving on I think David is going to shoot the ball more and get into the defense, which he's done a very good job of. He had 20 points on seven shots when we beat Bishop Sullivan (in Charlotte), so his game has never been in question. Now, he understands he's going to be getting more shots and shooting the rock more frequently. We're going to need contributions from everyone, because losing a player like Austin who was averaging a double-double is not easy at all."