Two years ago, Alcovy guard LaReco Herring got the call he had been waiting for.
The sophomore was coming to the big leagues – to varsity – to the greatest stage in high school basketball.
Herring joined the varsity Tigers with just a few games remaining, but then, the 5-foot-9 guard, who had been playing basketball since he was 6 years old, was sidelined with what every high-level basketball player fears – a knee injury.
Luckily for Herring, with a little ice, training and recovery time, he was back out on the court and better than ever, helping the Tigers compete for aregion title.
This year, Herring is the lone returner for a greenhorn Alcovy squad led by first-year head coach Jabri Levi. But, for Herring, the beat just goes on, as he continues to lead the Tigers as they find their way early in the season.
Herring spent much of the summer with his teammates, getting the Tigers ready for this season, and he’s not taken his leadership role for granted.
“I worked a lot with my teammates to get us working together as a unit,” Herring said. “I want us all on the same page this season. We have to work together as a team to reach our goals.”
Herring said that along with setting the tone for the Tigers’ play on offense and defense, his main responsibility is to keep his teammates motivated.
“I feel like my job is to get the team involved,” he said. “I always want us to encourage each other and stay on top of each other to make sure we’re getting better each practice and each game.”
Herring has had the added responsibility of helping his teammates transition to a new style of play and leadership under Levi, but the senior said that the transition has gone smoothly, despite some early bumps in the road.
“It was a change, but we got used to it quickly,” Herring said. "We’re getting there. It’s going to take some time, but we’re going to make it.”
Levi said that he saw the leadership potential in Herring before the Tigers ever had their first practice.
“When I came in, I watched some game tape from last year, and I saw that he was a guy that got a lot of minutes last season,” Levi said. “So when I came in, I expected him to be a leader entering the season, even though he had never played for me before. Not only that, when I first came this summer, he did a great job being a leader at our team camp. You could tell that he was a player the rest of the guys gravitated toward and looked up to, both on and off the court.
“I never had to point anyone out as a leader; he stepped up and took on that role himself,” he said. “He was the one that stepped up on his own. He leads by example. He doesn’t necessarily say the most all of the time, but he works his behind off. He’s the first one up in drills at practice; he’s finishing in the top-3 when we have sprints and he’s doing everything he needs to do in the classroom and off the court as well. He’s our captain.”
Levi said that Herring’s greatest attribute is his commitment to defense, a rarity at this level.
“I think defensively, he brings it,” Levi said. “He can be great on that side of the ball. He’s very quick and he’s a game-changer. He uses his defense to change the tempo of the game and puts a lot of pressure on the ball. He’s our engine."
The Tigers have dropped their first two games of the season, but Herring said his expectations depend on more than just wins and losses.
“All I expect from my teammates is that they work hard every game and never lay down,” Herring said. “I want everyone playing hard until the final buzzer goes off. When we step on the court, I want everyone going hard and giving as much as they can. If we do that, everything else will work itself out.”