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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Hoops Recruiting Report
Thursday, May 7, 2009

By Thad Mumau

Versatile Gaines brings pedigree to Pirates

By Thad Mumau
All Rights Reserved.

If all the ingredients for an ideal addition to a college basketball program could be mixed in a test tube, the result might very well be Corvonn Gaines.

There have been prospects who could jump higher and shoot better, and there certainly have been taller and more athletic players. But there are more things to consider.

Things like attitude, willingness to be coached and to improve, work ethic and, of course, commitment to the team.

Gaines has all of those, along with a tremendous basketball IQ, and it’s not like he cannot play the game. Because he can.
The 6-4 combination guard signed a letter of intent with East Carolina this spring after averaging 14 points, four rebounds and three assists as a fifth-year senior at Worcester (MA) Academy.

“Corvonn was as good a player as we had on our team,” said coach Edward Reilly, whose team played an extremely difficult schedule and sent eight players to Division I schools.

“He is a tremendous facilitator of the basketball. He has good skills and he can score, but that is not his main focus. He is very unselfish, and he enjoys making plays and distributing the ball. I think his strength is getting into the lane and creating for his teammates. He is very good with the ball in his hands.”

Gaines has been around basketball his whole life. His brother, Reece Gaines, who is nine years older, was an All-American at Louisville and a first-round NBA draft pick.

“Corvonn knows how to play,” Reilly said, “and he is receptive to criticism, to coaching. He wants to be better. He is a hard worker and is very engaging. Of all the attributes he has, the best is that he is a good teammate. He is fun to play with because he looks to pass first and shoot second.

“He brought a terrific attitude to practice every day. When East Carolina coaches came up to see him play and practice, they saw the same things.”

Worcester’s final game of the season showcased Gaines’ all-around abilities as he threw in 18 points, handed out seven assists, grabbed seven rebounds and added four steals in a 72-66 loss to Winchendon.

“Corvonn kind of took over the game for us,” Reilly said. “He is capable of that kind of performance, and he can put up some impressive numbers. I’m not big on stats; I’m big on impact, and he was one of our top three kids as far as impacting games.

“He shot about 35 percent on three-pointers, and he is a capable shooter. But that is one of the areas he can improve. Going to Conference USA, he is going to be tested more. Defenses are going to try to prevent him from penetrating, and he is going to have to prove he can make that outside jumper consistently. People will see if he can shoot the ball.

“Another thing is that he needs to finish stronger around the rim. Right now, he is just laying the ball up. He needs to get in there and dunk it when he can. He has a good body – a Division I body – and he’s a strong kid.

“I think the extra year will help Corvonn,” Reilly said. “He grew up in a lot of ways during the season. He is more mature physically and emotionally. I think East Carolina liked that and was very attracted to the whole package.

“I think he was under-recruited.”

Gaines received scholarship offers from George Washington, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Fairfield and the University of Detroit in addition to the Pirates. He visited all of the schools except Detroit.

“I really hit it off with (ECU assistant) Darryl LaBarrie,” Gaines said. “We connected. He came to see me play twice and (head coach) Mack McCarthy came once. All of the East Carolina coaches are real cool.

“They told me the opportunity is there for me to play. They didn’t talk about starting, just said that I would have the chance to earn playing time right away. I’m going in with an open mind and the idea of being competitive. If I start, I start; if not, then I’ll give it all I’ve got off the bench. It’s all about the team.”

Gaines averaged 16.9 points, 6.7 assists and five rebounds per game his senior season at Madison (WI) West High School, but got scarcely a glance from big-time college coaches.

“I broke an ankle the summer before my senior year,” he said, “and the college coaches weren’t there after that. That is why I came to Worcester. I knew we would play tough competition and the college guys would be watching. I needed the exposure.

“The good thing is that being here has also raised my maturity level, and that has helped.

“I need to perfect my jump shot,” Gaines said. “Penetration is my strong point. I see myself as a combo guard. I can play the two and complement the point guard or I can run the offense. It doesn’t matter which I play.

“I’m just excited about having the chance to play for East Carolina.”

Dig into Thad Mumau's archives.

05/07/2009 01:38:28 AM


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