Hounds Jordan, Boydstun take All-Metro top honors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2006

FERRIDAY &8212; If you&8217;re lucky enough to hear Antonio Jordan speak at length of his first season of basketball at Huntington, he&8217;ll tell you the little differences he&8217;s experienced this year and his previous year at Harrisonburg.

Similar, yes, but they have their differences.

Jordan spent his sophomore season developing into a solid player at Harrisonburg last season before he and childhood friend and teammate Brant Bradley enrolled at Huntington. There Jordan took off and had a breakout season with just 14 rebounds and nearly 18 points a game.

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The stats and other things he won&8217;t tell you about. Instead, he&8217;ll speak briefly &8212; like anything else &8212; on just how different basketball was this past season with the Hounds.

&8220;I don&8217;t know half of the people who come up and tell me I had a good game or they liked the way I play,&8221; Jordan said. &8220;It was kind of weird. I&8217;m not used to people coming up to me every night, especially people I don&8217;t even know, commenting on my game.

&8220;It makes me work harder now to keep playing well. If not, you feel like you let them down.&8221;

It&8217;s not surprising to those who know him. Here&8217;s a kid whose previous coach had to tell him to shoot the ball more and stop passing it so much. Eric Richard, who coached Jordan and Bradley at Harrisonburg last season, credits his mild-mannered attitude to his association with the Bradley family.

The two players were friends from way back when Jordan transferred to Harrisonburg from Sicily Island, and the bond of basketball made them that much closer. In the meantime, Bradley&8217;s family has taken Jordan in almost as a member of the family.

Bradley&8217;s dad, Robert Bradley, has gone so far as to check on Jordan&8217;s grades at school while checking on those of his own son.

&8220;As fine a man as I&8217;ve ever met in my 34 years of being,&8221; Richard said. &8220;Antonio&8217;s mother is a good lady, and the reason why he was at Huntington is she wanted him to have a good opportunity. She wants the best for him. Mr. Bradley has been very instrumental in the success Antonio has had. He&8217;s helped Antonio a lot.&8221;

With Bradley suiting up for the Hounds alongside Jordan, that set the stage for a good season with the Hounds. But no one would have expected the end result &8212; a 28-3 overall record, an appearance in the South State championship and the school&8217;s first appearance at the state tournament.

Jordan&8217;s contributions earned him 2006 All-Metro Player of the Year. Hounds head coach David Boydstun is Coach of the Year.

They came to not only see Jordan but to see a Huntington team that was different than many of the boys&8217; basketball teams of seasons past.

&8220;The community just got excited about basketball and the style of ball we were playing,&8221; Boydstun said. &8220;We had good crowds, and the community was real supportive in the playoffs. People were coming in who hadn&8217;t been coming just to see what was going on. They came to see what this team was doing. Hopefully we can carry it over to next year.&8221;

Jordan &8212; along with Bradley and Ricky Dunbar, another transfer &8212; found out the private-school league wasn&8217;t as much of a slouch as some had told them. The big men may not be as prevalent as the public-school league, but teams played a style similar to Huntington&8217;s that put an emphasis on running the floor and playing solid defense.

The Hounds finished the regular season with only one loss &8212; early in the season at University Christian Prep &8212; but Jordan pointed to the two wins against Trinity Episcopal that may have set the tone for what was in store for the Hounds later on.

The win at home was big enough, but to beat a good Trinity team at its place, he said, raised some eyebrows.

&8220;I&8217;ve got to get used to playing against people I don&8217;t know anything about every night,&8221; Jordan said. &8220;You&8217;ve got to come with you&8217;re A game every night. After the Trinity game, all the players had more confidence in themselves, and we felt like we could win on any given night.&8221;

To start the season off so well with so many new players, the Hounds just adapted quickly, Boydstun said. The veteran coach who retired after spending 26 years at Class 5A Captain Shreve credits&8217; the players&8217; willingness to mesh as a team and not get caught up with who was losing their starting position to the three new players.

&8220;We played a lot of people early and switched them in and out,&8221; Boydstun said. &8220;We tried to get them comfortable with each other and for me to find the best rotation. The kids that were here took the new kids in and saw the potential of being a good basketball team.

&8220;Everybody played hard. There were people that lost their starting positions, but there was no jealousy.&8221;

Jordan played the guard positions for the Hounds, but he still got down low at times and grabbed rebounds and even threw home some dunks. Those may have gotten the most response from total strangers after the game, but he was equally good around the bucket and from mid-range.

Next season, however, the senior-to-be wants to get better on his outside game.

Both his old coach and his current coach have advised him to get stronger for next season if he wants to reach his goal of playing at the next level, specifically Louisiana Tech.

He&8217;s also hoping he&8217;ll increase his exposure to college coaches playing at his new school.

&8220;I think he has a tremendous upside from the standpoint that his body is not through physically maturing yet,&8221; Richard said. &8220;I think he can add some muscle to his frame and not lose his explosiveness. The kid is one of the most coachable kids I&8217;ve had, and that tells you he&8217;ll continue to grow as a player. Once he gets on a strenuous weight program and get a lot of individual coaching, whoever gets him will get a big-time talent.&8221;

If that happens, you can bet the Bradley family will be a big help in getting him there.

So will Boydstun and everyone at Huntington, and so will the fans he doesn&8217;t even know who tell him he had a good game.

&8220;When I transferred from Sicily Island when I was in the fifth grade, Brant was one of my first friends,&8221; Jordan said. &8220;His dad kind of took me in as one of his own. We spend a whole lot of time together. I&8217;m at his house half of the weekend.

&8220;I want to play ball at Tech. I think I have a better chance of getting somewhere.&8221;