‘Big Daddy’ moves up to college

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 13, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

As a member of the Nansemond River varsity basketball team, Justin Sorensen spent the past two seasons trying to defeat a crosstown team of Cavaliers. Now, he’ll head west to become one.

The center, whose 6’7&uot; height won him the nickname of &uot;Big Daddy&uot; among Warrior fans, cheerleaders and teammates, announced Wednesday his intention to attend the University of Virginia’s branch College at Wise in the Bristol area. Sorensen hopes to major in business or earth science at the Division II liberal arts school.

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&uot;I liked that school the best,&uot; said Sorensen, who listed Radford and Chowan among former possibilities. &uot;I always wanted to live near the mountains.&uot; An avid backpacker, he’s been in the Boy Scouts since the seventh grade, and a scout leader for the past year.

Wise coach Lee Clark first spotted Sorensen during the Slam Fest high school event in February in Richmond. &uot;I got a letter from (Nansemond River) coach (Franklin) Chatman, and he told me that Justin’s best years were ahead of him,&uot; said Clark. &uot;His enthusiasm to continue to grow on and off the court were great.&uot;

In late March, Sorensen visited the school to show off the skills that allowed him to become a part of the Warrior squad that took the school to the past two Southeastern District regular season and tournament titles (and compiled a 6-1 record against local opponent Lakeland). &uot;He was better than I expected,&uot; Clark said. &uot;But we still put more insistence on academics. When kids come out of school in four years, they’re going to put basketball in the closet for the most part. They owe it to themselves to get that piece of paper to make a difference.&uot;

Sorensen is the second member of Chatman’s 2003-4 Warrior squad to receive a basketball scholarship; Marquie Cooke is heading to Virginia Tech, and other players may announce their choices soon.

&uot;When I go out,&uot; said the coach, &uot;I try to find schools to help my guys become successful on and off the court. Not every school is right for every kid. I wanted to help Justin meet some college coaches, because I knew he had a great work ethic.&uot;

It’s the same ethic that Warrior fans repeatedly erupted for over the past two years. &uot;The crowd and the fans were the best part of playing here,&uot; Sorensen said. &uot;Everybody at Nansemond River loved the basketball team!&uot;