Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 27, 2014

Carroll carries on

Fairview’s lone senior has made significant strides

Zack Klemme
The Independent

WESTWOOD —

Andrew Carroll understands his role requires more than just putting the ball in the basket.
Carroll, listed as a 6-foot-1, 165-pound guard, is the lone senior on Fairview’s team, which stands at 3-11 with slightly less than half the season to go.
But the young Eagles have shown occasional promise, and Carroll is trying to help them mine it.
“This season, they’re still so young and they’re still learning,” Carroll said Thursday of his teammates, “but with me being there and just trying to guide them and help them, it leads into next season.”
Fifth-year Fairview coach Derek Cooksey and Carroll both pointed to the Eagles’ 2012 senior class as an example of effective upperclassman leadership.
That 2011-2012 Fairview club, for whom Carroll played in 10 games as a sophomore, went 17-14 and took eventual state quarterfinalist Rowan County to the wire in the region quarterfinals before losing, 54-49.
“He got to learn from (2012 Eagles senior) Mike Terry, and that’s what takes place when you have kids that have success,” Cooksey said. “They basically learn from one another.”
Added Carroll: “They showed me how (teammates) should be treated (by) the way they treated me — Mike Terry, Mikey Felty, Ty Lowe, guys like that.”
Now Carroll is the rudder for a team which would struggle to find leadership and direction anywhere else.
The Eagles had four seniors on their roster entering the season. For various reasons, Carroll is the only one still donning the red and black.
“We’ve been through a lot of change in our program, and Andrew has been the most consistent player that we’ve had,” Cooksey said. “With a lot of inexperience and a lot of youthful kids getting the opportunity to play, he’s had to lead by example.”
That is Carroll’s preferred style, he said, since he’s not much of a talker.
“Every day at practice you have to give everything you have, and people see that,” he said. “And you have to bring it every day.”
Carroll’s play indicates he has, indeed, brought it this season.
Through the Eagles’ first 12 games, he averaged 19.5 points and 5.2 rebounds a contest and hit 51.5 percent of his field goals, 75 percent of his charity tosses and 43.1 percent of his 3-point tries.
“He’s developed himself into an offensive threat,” Cooksey said. “He’s an exceptional mid-range shooter. (And) I think, because he’s gotten stronger in the offseason, it’s enabled him to drive to the basket more and take that contact.”
Those two aspects of his offensive game — pull-up jumpers and getting to the rack — complement each other, Carroll said.
“The last four years he’s probably developed as much as any kid I’ve ever had,” Cooksey said. “He was on a freshman team that I think won one or two games, and he just spends countless hours in here. He enjoys the game, he conditions and works out on his own, and that’s what it takes to be a complete player.”
Carroll concurred that turning himself into a scoring threat has required “a lot of hard work, a lot of putting up extra shots, a lot of lifting, a lot of just going hard every day.”
That has resulted in Carroll, who was Fairview’s third-leading scorer last season with 9.3 points an outing, becoming the Eagles’ top offensive option.
“The kids know that when we get into those situations where we’ve gotta have a basket throughout the course of the game or if it gets down to the end of the game ... he’s gonna definitely be one of the guys who’s gonna get a lot of the touches and looks,” Cooksey said.
Carroll only has about a month left in his term as the Eagles’ senior leader. “It’s pretty sad. I hate it,” he said, adding a paradoxical chuckle. “I don’t want it to end.”
But when it does, Carroll wants to try to play collegiately. Cooksey said he is putting out feelers to schools, mostly on the NAIA level.
Carroll measured his words before stating, “I’ve worked for what I’ve done so far in the season. I want to keep on working to play college ball, and if that’s possible, I’ll work as hard as possible.”
“I think once he’s given an opportunity, a program would be very lucky to have him,” Cooksey said, “because he’s not only a great kid on the court; off the court, in the classroom, he’s a good student. He works tremendously hard, doesn’t say much.”
Between now and whatever comes next, Carroll will continue to help the Eagles lay the foundation for future squads.
“He is showing our kids by leading through example that if you put the time in, if you work hard, if you have a good attitude, that you can be successful,” Cooksey said. “Most of the time, when you find kids that basically want to spend that time in the gym and do things the right way, they’re gonna be successful.”
ZACK KLEMME can be reached at zklemme@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2658.