Brite draws top honors

Published 10:51 pm Wednesday, April 9, 2014

University of Mount Olive sophomore guard Dontrell Brite has used his quickness to lead the Trojans and earn 2013-14 NCCSIA All-State Men’s Basketball First Team honors. (University of Mount Olive Department of Athletics photo)

University of Mount Olive sophomore guard Dontrell Brite has used his quickness to lead the Trojans and earn 2013-14 NCCSIA All-State Men’s Basketball First Team honors. (University of Mount Olive Department of Athletics photo)

Former Nansemond River High School basketball standout Dontrell Brite has found impressive success early at the college level, and impressive accolades have come to him on a similar schedule.

The University of Mount Olive sophomore guard was recently named to the 2013-14 NCCSIA All-State Men’s Basketball First Team. The All-State Team was assembled based on votes from members of the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association.

“It’s amazing,” Brite said of receiving the honor as an underclassman. “I’m very appreciative of it, to get the opportunity to be named one of the best players in the state of North Carolina.”

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Trojans head coach Joey Higginbotham was not surprised by Brite’s recognition.

“He had an outstanding year this year, leading us to a regular-season championship,” Higginbotham said.

Brite was the leading scorer this season for the NCAA Division II Trojans, helping them go 19-9 and reach the semifinals round of the Conference Carolinas Men’s Basketball Tournament, along with winning the conference’s regular-season title.

He averaged 16.3 points and 3.5 assists per game, statistics that were both ranked ninth in the conference. He scored in double figures in 15 of his final 16 games. He was also ranked third in steals, with 1.6 per game, the best on his team.

Higginbotham highlighted Brite’s speed contributing to the team’s success as the reason he was selected to the first team.

“He’s one of the quickest players in the country,” the coach said. “He was a big part of our success this year.”

Brite agreed that his speed was key, because at 5-feet-9-inches, he is among the shortest in the conference. He said, “I’m not really going to shoot over nobody.”

Coach Higginbotham also praised Brite’s development.

“To see the progress from high school and from his freshman year to this year, it’s very rewarding as a coach,” he said.

Nansemond River head coach Ed Young said he is happy for Brite and echoed Higginbotham’s praise of his growth, adding that it has happened in the classroom, as well.

“I think he’s at a 3.0 (grade point average) in the classroom, which is probably his best number he’s put up all year,” Young said.

On the court at Nansemond River, Brite played point guard.

“He’s one of the best points we ever had, period, in my 10 years here,” Young said, noting Brite could score, but this skill was less necessary as a Warrior than his great ability to pass. “He was just so good at getting people the ball.”

The student filled a similar role for the Trojans as a freshman, but “this year, they needed me to score,” Brite said.

Even though he became his team’s No. 1 offensive weapon, he said, “I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure.”

He said that once he would show aggressiveness offensively, frequently driving into the paint, it opened up his teammates for scoring opportunities.

Emphasizing Brite’s talent to play at the NCAA Division I level, Young said, “His best game of the year, he dropped 30 points on East Carolina (University).”

It was an exhibition game against the Division I Pirates that the Trojans narrowly lost, 77-75, but was nonetheless a prime illustration of how impressive he can be.

“It’s exciting that he is only a sophomore,” Higginbotham said. “We’ve got two more years with him.”