Standifer ready to carry Bulldogs in 2011-12

The past three seasons have been groundbreaking for Bearden boys basketball. The Bulldogs reached the state quarterfinals in 2009, the state semifinals in 2010, and the state championship game in 2011. The problem for the 2011-2012 team is that the “super class” that defined most of those three seasons is gone. With Ty Greene starting at the University of South Carolina-Upstate, Dion Fair receiving substantial minutes at Bryan College, and Rico White getting minutes off the bench at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Bulldog fans have to wonder where Bearden’s offense will come from this year. Drew Standifer may be the answer. “He has to be phenomenal,” Coach Mark Blevins said. “If he plays up to his potential like he did this summer, then we’ll be okay.” Success might be a lot to place on Standifer’s 6-foot-6 frame, but he seems ready to bear the load. The Bulldogs have already scrimmaged national powerhouse Christ School (N.C.), an 80-49 loss, but the season officially starts at the Hall of Fame tournament on Friday. “I have to get the team together,” Standifer said. “I’m the captain this year, so I have to take Ty’s role.” Fellow senior Daquan Wright points out that Standifer’s leadership is a little different. “He will tell you everything you need to know,” Wright said. “He’s quiet, though.” Standifer, the only returning starter from last year’s team, may be quiet, but his coach loves his character. “Drew is one of the finest human beings anytime, anyplace,” Coach Blevins said. “He has developed into a very mature leader and man, and I have great confidence in him.” His coach’s trust may show in what he allows Standifer to do with the ball, as he will have significantly more freedom than in past years. This freedom should result in Standifer being on the wing on offense more this year, a departure from his traditional spot down low. The perimeter was also already crowded last year with Fair, Greene, and White taking the majority of the outside shots. “Usually, I like going in the post, but if the man’s not on me, you’ll see me shoot,” Standifer said. Standifer has always been able to shoot for a big man, but after a summer of hard work, his shot could pass for a guard’s. “In the summer, I was going six days a week, four days a week in the weight room,” Standifer said. “I put up a load of 3-point shots; my 3-point shot should be better.” His shot is not his only attribute that resembles a smaller player. “If Drew comes out along the perimeter, ain’t no one can guard him,” Wright said. “He’s as fast as me.” Being as quick as Wright might be a stretch, but no one who watched Standifer this summer doubts his shot or his speed. To Standifer, though, it is his mind that defines him. “Basketball intelligence, smart, I know what to do, know where to be on the court,” he said. It is these qualities and another strong suit of Standifer’s, not size and skill that will determine the 2011-2012 season for the Bulldogs. “The main thing we’ve got to do is execute and play defense,” Wright said. “The main thing is defense.” What the defense looks like, what the offense looks like, and what the team looks like, though, are all yet to be determined. “There is an awful lot of questions with this team and this group of kids, but they’re good kids,” Coach Blevins said. “Hopefully by playoff time, we’ll be solid.” Last year’s “super class” is long gone and the 2012 playoffs are long to come. It’s a brand new year of basketball at Bearden High School – one in which Standifer hopes to establish his own legacy.