Published: January 12, 2014
Even at 6-foot-4, with arms so long he can nearly touch the rim flat footed, junior guard Dante Fewell felt a bit overlooked while attending Coronado.
Not on the Cougars' basketball team, where he became the team's clutch 3-point shooter. He loved that. But while waiting for the school bus that was diverted away from his neighborhood last year.
After that, Fewell sat down with his family, looked at possibilities elsewhere and decided to transfer to Colorado Springs Christian School.
Academically, it was the best decision of his life, he said.
Athletically, he'll finally become eligible to play with his new team in the next two weeks and he'll join hundreds of Colorado athletes who will suit up for the first time with their respective new teams as the season hits the midway point.
"I am so excited to get out there and become a leader for this team," said Fewell, who has to sit out the first half of Colorado Springs Christian School's basketball season due to CHSAA's 50-percent rule, that a player "will be ineligible for the first 50 percent of the maximum regular-season contests determined by that classification in any sport." "I know I can help this team with my shooting and driving ability, but the main thing is just doing whatever is asked of me. I feel like it's a clean start everywhere in my life."
His coach, Mark Engesser, is excited too. The third-year coach just isn't showing it as much, saying he'll try to temper expectations for the time being.
"He could start for us, but he may come off the bench too," said Engesser, who has his young Lions at 3-3 despite playing one of the hardest 3A schedules in the state, including games against 4A schools Air Academy (lost 59-35) and Falcon (lost 69-66). "We are excited for another piece to join this team, and I'll just have to keep evaluating as we go."
Fewell, however, isn't the only big-name boys' basketball transfer in the area.
Take Jason Anderson. The 6-7 center is a force under the rim, and before the season, he moved from The Classical Academy to Doherty for his senior year. When asked about what his contributions will be, Spartans coach James Lane just beamed.
"He could be very big for us," Lane said. "He's too good of a player not to tweak the offense to get him involved."
Later this week, James Irwin could possibly add two starters - Malique Chang (moved from Chicago) and Joshua Mohammed (Palmer) - who are likely to add monumental firepower to a surprisingly good Jaguars team, which has gone 5-3 despite losing 10 seniors from a year ago.
"I'm just like, if we can get through another game, then we'll have those guys helping us out too," James Irwin coach Anthony Byrd said. "They will definitely make us better."
But the gift of midseason talent isn't bestowed on everyone. In fact, it won't be for the majority of the boys' basketball programs in Colorado Springs. Schools like Cheyenne Mountain, Palmer Ridge, Liberty, Manitou Springs, Coronado and The Classical Academy do not have any magic formula. "We'll have to manage with what we have, we usually do," Manitou Springs coach Ken Vecchio said. "Some schools just don't get as many, and we have to rely on what we get from our area - and that does pretty good too."
In fact, some coaches completely embrace a season with a roster chock-full of homegrown talent.
"You know, it definitely can help a team but it's also tough to restructure around a kid that hasn't played half the season," said TCA coach Paul Campbell, who not only doesn't get a transfer, but lost his leading scorer and rebounder in Anderson to Doherty. "I love what we have at TCA. We get kids as freshmen and have built them in our system. That's really exciting for me, but we'll see what happens with all the transfers out there."
He, like most, can only wait and see what success the transfers will bring a lucky few.
"You can't help but be a little interested," Liberty coach Ivan Chambers smiled. "And a little worried."