Friday, April 9, 2010

Peabody Duo signs with Kansas City Community College

It wasn't too surprising that Peabody star Kalvin Balque Jr.(right) would sign to play basketball at a higher level, as he did Thursday in signing with Kansas City (Kan.) Community College.

But it was surprising too see Brandon Morris, who split time as the team manager and cameraman for the Class 4A state champion Warhorses, do the same.

Balque averaged 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals per game as a No. 3 (small forward) player for unbeaten Peabody as a senior, but Morris, who went to Aiken Optional School after too many no-shows at class as a freshman at Bolton, hadn't played high school basketball in two seasons. Even so, he played somewhere, he said, "every day" and sharpened his game the last two summers on Peabody's AAU team.

Balque's father, Kalvin, said his son had a "rocky start, too" to his high school career when Kalvin Jr. spoiled his freshman year at Alexandria Senior High with bad grades.

Balque transferred to Peabody as a sophomore and on the second day of school, he asked Peabody coach Charles Smith if he could play basketball.

"I told him to bring me his report card," Smith said, "and I think he had one A, in phys. ed., and the rest Fs. I told him he'd have to get his grades up as he sat out the first semester, and he pulled them up to a C average. He played JV ball the rest of the year and the next year he made the varsity.

"He needs to go to a junior college, though, to develop skills at the 1 or 2 guard," Smith added.

The 6-foot Morris, whom Smith coached the last two summers, was one of a group of players who played in a scrimmage that served mostly as a KCCC tryout for Balque (pronounced BAL-q), but he caught the attention of KCCC coach Bill Sloan just as Smith thought might happen, after nailing a couple of 3-pointers, making a dunk and getting a couple of steals.

"Coach Sloan asked me, 'Who is that?' And I told him, 'That's my manager.' He couldn't believe it. 'Manager?! If we'd have had him this year, we could've won the championship.'"

Sloan came to get one player at Peabody, and he got two.

Morris said he completed his required credits to graduate from Bolton High School on Tuesday, and he said his mother (Tammy Butler), coach Smith and friends from the Peabody team helped him get this "golden opportunity."

Balque said he remembered coach Smith telling him as a new sophomore on campus "that he wanted a student first, that he could get a player from across the street." He said he hoped to "continue to make better grades" at KCCC and use the experience as a "stepping stone" to play for a university.

Smith said both young men showed that, "By sticking with it and working hard, you can overcome your mistakes."

Courtesy of the Alexandria Town Talk

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