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by | Feb 17, 2019

Tony Pearl
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John, Luke and Anthony may sound like the beginning names of a law firm or simply everyday employees of a construction company. But for these three student-athletes, John Bean (East Lincoln Mustangs), Luke Stankavage (Ardrey Kell Knights) and Anthony Allen (Independence Patriots) it doesn’t matter how bright the lights are or how small the venue is because they quietly pick up their briefcase (or toolkit) and consistently put in the work for their respective teams.

Court Is In Session.

From the tip to the last buzzer you can count on East Lincoln’s – John Bean being all over the court because his motor simply doesn’t stop. Taking a charge (check), diving for loose balls (check), mid-range game (check), three-point stroke (check), fast break layup or dunk? Well let’s see about that as we flash back to the 2015-16 basketball campaign when John was a true freshman and starter for much of the season on an East Lincoln varsity team that finished runner-up in the 2A NCHAA state finals.  Earlier in the season I recall attending an East Lincoln game when at a certain point during the contest John found himself in a two on one fast break – he’s an unproven ninth grader so he had a decision to make – go in for the layup or dunk over top of the defender?

John attempted the dunk and I discovered then what the Mustang faithful have come to love, this kid is fearless.

In the second round of the 2A state playoffs yesterday, John Bean posted 18 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in a 78-51 win over Lexington Senior High School.

Against North Surry in the first round of the state playoffs John contributed 24 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists and was honored as the ninth player in his school’s history to score over 1000 points.  Currently an unsigned senior and in our estimate he is being under-recruited for the division two, three and NAIA levels. Very soon some lucky program is going to receive a proven winner and great student athlete in John who is currently sporting over a 3.0 gpa.

Additionally, John is currently ranked as the No. 7 prospect in the US Prep Elite – NextUS rankings report for the class of 2019.

Arraignment By The Defense.

If being a play maker is a crime then Ardrey Kell’s – Luke Stankavage commits plenty of misdemeanors and felonies on the defense each time the ball is in his hands.

If you leave him open from behind the arc there’s an anticipation for Curry like results. Push up the “defense” and he’ll drive around it, not with extraordinary quickness but with precision and technical details in spacing and footwork placement. Should any defender become super assertive he’ll pull out an old school pump fake which typically results in a foul on the defense. And on top of that he consistently knocks down his free-throws.

When it comes to being a play maker he puts you in the mindset of your Stocktons, Mark Jacksons and the Rajon Rondos’ of the world and in my observations of Ardrey Kell this season, they’re at their absolute best when the ball is in his hands and the offense flows through him.

Throughout the year, Luke (6’3, 2020) is currently averaging over 18 points per contest while dishing out three assists and grabbing close to four boards per game.  To US, his offensive skill sets and play making abilities are on par with any top level talent which Charlotte has produced over the past five years.  And just like a few of his peers in that South Meck 7 conference, Luke has flown slightly under the radar this season despite his high level of success.

Ok truth is perhaps I’m the only one who’s a little late to the party on Luke but nonetheless I’m here now.

That’s the good news.  The concerning news for these Ardrey Kell Knights is they will face off against one of the stingiest defenses in the state this Saturday night as they compete against Independence High School, the reigning 4A state champions. Two very well coached programs who will deploy a ton of strategies and should have their squads hitting on all cylinders.  We’re all looking forward to hearing the outcome of that verdict.

The Star Witness.

In legal terms the star witness is typically brought in to display some crucial evidence that will sway the outcome of a trial. Flip that to a basketball analogy and Independence’s – Anthony Allen (5’10, 2020) is that guy who can come off the bench and help sway any contest he competes in due to his offensive tenacity and on the ball defensive pressure. One coach dubbed him “Microwave” in reference to former Detroit Piston’s Vinnie Johnson.  I call him Mr. Sparkplug, another coach refers to him as “Instant Oatmeal” because he comes into the game hot and contributes within moments of touching the floor.



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