RED SPRINGS — Jared Foster doesn’t fit the widely-accepted perception of a high school point guard.
He’s over 6-feet tall, plays above the rim and looks to score each trip down the floor.
A player with an attack-first mentality is just what Red Springs coach Glenn Patterson has been looking for since his son Glenn Jr., a three-time Robeson County player of the year for the Red Devils, signed with Elizabeth City State in 2011 and took the program’s backcourt production with him.
“Playing ball over the summer, I asked God to find me a point guard,” Patterson said. “My brother-in-law’s in the military and when he retired, he brought Jared back to Red Springs. My prayers were answered.”
Foster’s averaging 16.2 points and 5.5 assists through five games with the Red Devils (2-3) after starring at Overhills last season as the Jaguars’ leading scorer. He’ll be matched up against all-county and recently crowned football Heisman Jarrod Neal next week when Red Springs opens Shootout play at Fairmont (2-1).
Foster, still adjusting to a starting five that features three 6-foot-5 forwards, has scored in double figures three straight games and dunked twice during a win over Lumberton. He says he feels more relaxed with the ball in his hands at Red Springs as opposed to the 4A level.
“It’s a different atmosphere here, kind of small with not as many fans,” Foster said. “I think the coaches depend on me more at Red Springs. I’m the floor general. I know we’ve lost three games so far, but if we stay together as a team, we will continue to get better.”
The sudden emergence of Patterson’s nephew into Red Springs’ regular rotation was difficult to accept for some players. Patterson’s attributes two of his team’s three defeats on selfishness when normal contributors were held out.
“A lot of times, talent brings egos and I just had to stay strong and discipline kids when they’ve needed it,” Patterson said. “It’s not about themselves, it’s about the team. I think they’ve bought into the concept and we’re coming together the last few ballgames.”
The last two seasons have been a mess for the veteran coach — nine wins in 44 games — since the Red Devils advanced to the East Regional finals during the 2010-11 campaign.
This year’s squad has more depth and could be more talented than that team which produced two college basketball players, a baseball standout and a Division I football signee.
“We’re long and can really run,” Patterson said. “This is probably one of the most athletic teams I’ve had over my 20 years of coaching here. We’re going to play hard and get after it. The potential’s there.”
This is the fourth consecutive season Red Springs will play an opening round road game in the annual holiday tournament. The Golden Tornadoes are four-time champions.
Patterson’s only title at Red Springs came in 2009 when his son was named most valuable player.
“I don’t know who or what determines the pairings, but I would like to see something set in stone where the area’s better teams don’t meet each other so early in the tournament,” Patterson said. “They might say it’s about money, but Fairmont and Red Springs is always a draw regardless of when the game’s played.
“Regardless of that, we’ve got to come prepared and we’ve got to play. I tell my kids all the time if they want to be great, they’ve got to beat the great teams.”
The Robeson County Shootout begins Wednesday night at four sites. Winners move on to Friday’s semifinals. Championship Saturday will be held inside the English E. Jones Center at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
There’s been a different winner on the boys side every season since 2006.
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.