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May 6, 2021

Gallagher column: Sherrill getting noticed

West Rowan basketball coach Mike Gurley opened up a card he received recently from Xavier coach Sean Miller.
Miller wrote to say he’d keep an eye on one of Gurley’s rising seniors: K.J. Sherrill.
Just the name “Sherrill” should have been enough to pique Miller’s interest. He was an assistant under Herb Sendek at N.C. State when a Sherrill named “Scooter” came through West. He was the main reason the McDonald’s All-American spent his college career in Raleigh.
Now, will Miller get Scooter’s cousin to spend his college career in Cincinnati? Stay tuned.
Colleges have certainly taken notice of the latest Sherrill phenom. K.J. is a 6-foot-7 mass of power and finesse. Since leading West Rowan to a 21-7 record, he has been showing off on the AAU circuit. He is playing for the Carolina Phenoms, a local team that includes several Rowan County stars like West Rowan teammate Kaleb Kimber, Brandon Abel of Salisbury, Hunter Morrison of South Rowan, D.J. Hipps of North Rowan, and two Carson players, Josh Doby and Brandon Ferguson.
That’s a load of talent but the first option is always Sherrill. And he is turning heads with 30-point performances, many off feeds from his lefty point guard Morrison.
“K.J. makes everybody better,” Morrison smiled. “Having him makes the game a whole lot easier. All I have to do is throw it up there and he goes and gets it.”

The Phenoms’ coaching staff includes two former Rowan County stars in J.R. Black and Bryan Withers. Both agree Sherrill’s stock is rising daily.
“We played the Greensboro Gators and their coaches were saying they haven’t heard of him,” Withers said. “They said, ‘There’s no way we shouldn’t hear about the best big kid in the state.’
“Teams are doubling him with two 6-foot-6 kids and he’s still getting 25, 30 points. He’s playing out of his mind right now. He plays with that smile and that swagger. When he steps in the gym, he thinks he’s the best right now.”
Sherrill has worked out for schools like UNC Wilmington (where Withers played), Western Carolina and Winthrop. The interest is likely to increase as AAU winds down and West’s season begins in November.
“I’m going to wait until next season to sign,” Sherrill said at a recent tournament. “It’s too early right now. I’m trying to find a place that’s a good fit for me. But my name’s getting out there and I’m glad about that.”

The Phenoms have beaten the big names like Kappa Magic, Sherrill’s former team.
“K.J. is getting rave reviews,” said Black, who was talented enough to total 804 career points at North. “Coaches have just been blown away. Every time I turn around, somebody is trying to take K.J. away.”
Withers, at 6-foot-7, was a pretty good big man himself when he played for Salisbury. Does he see a little of himself in Sherrill?
“He’s a lot better than Bryan Withers was,” Withers laughed. “Bryan Withers could jump, but I didn’t have the skills K.J. has. He’ll be one of the Top 5 big men in the state easily.”
What is really scary, according to Black, is that Sherrill may not be through growing.
The Phenoms recently played the Gators’ 16-year-old team and Sherrill lit them up for 30.
“One of their coaches said, ‘No way that kid is 17.’ I said, ‘He’s actually 16. He won’t be 17 until August.’ The doctors are saying, who knows, he might be 6-9 or something.”
Sherrill’s game has improved so much that he could play every position on the court except point guard. Black thinks the versatility will get him a very good scholarship offer.
“Some players can play at a high level at 6-7,” Black said. “If K.J. continues to get stronger and he keeps working on his game, he can play wherever he wants.”
Which means Sean Miller will be just one of many college coaches sending Mike Gurley cards next fall.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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