Marcus Sawyers announced his college choice this week, becoming the third Greyhound to sign for basketball and sixth overall.
“I’ll be going to Pfeiffer University,” Marcus said on Wednesday. He joins female players Malaya Johnson and Erin March in committing for hoops.
Erin’s brother Ryan has announced for football, Bailey Culler has signed for softball, Sarah Glasco for tennis. Track champion Alex Cooke is expected to announce her decision in the coming weeks.
“If you’ve got a chance to let the game take you somewhere, then use the game of basketball,” said North basketball coach Kevin King.
“I don’t see an NBA basketball player in this county,” King said. “I don’t know if there’s an NFL football player in this county. But there are a lot of kids in this county who can ride whatever sport they play to a very good college education. … The game of basketball can be very, very good to you.”
“He’s always wanted to play collegiately,” said Marcus’s dad Bruce. “I’m glad the Lord has blessed him to give him his desire.”
In addition to Pfeiffer, Marcus said he had interest from Warren Wilson College, North Greenville University and Erskine College.
At Pfeiffer, Marcus will be playing for a young coach entering his fifth season at the university.
Jeremy Currier was only three years out of college himself when he took over Daniel Webster College in 2007, the youngest head coach in any level of NCAA basketball. After one year there, Currier joined Pfeiffer as an assistant coach and became head coach in 2010.
Of his future coach, Marcus said, “He likes my size. He has a running team, they push the ball.”
Marcus will fill a shooting guard role with the team, but can help out at point or small forward if needed.
When Marcus visited the school, the coach tried him out with the current players in some scrimmaging.
“They put him at point guard, and he ran the team,” said dad Bruce.
Asked about his strengths, Marcus replied, “The tempo game, attacking the rim, defense.”
What has improved about his game in his senior year?
“My shooting has gotten better since last year and overall knowing more about the game,” Marcus said. His basketball IQ improved.
Mom Patricia said she is appreciative of Coach King because Marcus seemed to pick up new information better under Kevin King as well as his father Ron King.
“Marcus, his game has grown a lot under his coaching,” she said.
What does Marcus like about basketball?
“I like the overall game. I can go outside and shoot for days,” he said.
“It’s hard to practice football by yourself,” added Coach King. “It’s hard to entertain yourself with a football for a couple of hours. Every little kid can go outside and shoot on a basketball goal.”
“Marcus gets up every Saturday morning — and doesn’t eat breakfast — and goes straight to the gym to play ball,” said Patricia. “Marcus has always carried a ball since he was the age of five.”
In addition to his school team, Marcus has played on several travel teams: Carolina Bearcats, Carolina Wizards, Surry Thunder and Mount Airy Elite.
He has played with several area standouts including East Surry’s Scott Meredith, Seth Brim and Carson Long; Surry Central’s Zach Wilmoth; Ty Cannaday of Grayson County; and Connor Lundy of Carroll County.
As a junior, Marcus received the Greyhounds’ best defense award. As a senior, he made the Western Piedmont All-Conference Team for basketball and for track (high jump and 4x100 relay team). As a sophomore, his 4x100 relay team qualified for regionals, but he didn’t get the all-conference nod.
“He knows what his strengths are,” said King. “He is built for a game that is fast-paced. He is further along defensively and he is further along with his ball-handling right now than he is with his shooting. But he has shown the ‘want-to’ to get better. When you’ve got somebody who wants to get better and they know they have things they can work on, then they are going to get better.
“He’ll probably see a huge jump in ability and talent in the next year or two. Athletically, he’s not going to get any faster — he’s already fast. He’s going to get a lot stronger. He’s also going to get better at everything he does. He’s scratching the surface of the player he’s going to be four years from now.”
“That’s my main goal going down there,” said Marcus.
Of Pfeiffer, he said, “Some of the guys that play there, I feel like it will be a good, well-rounded team. They’ve got a lot of leaders on the team.”
“That’s one of the things Coach Currier liked (about Marcus),” said Bruce. “He said — when Marcus was down for his workout — that he had good leadership. He said, ‘I see potential in him. He still will continue to grow.’”
“I am very proud of Marcus,” said Patricia. “Marcus put in a whole lot of effort being a captain and being a leader. He has good leadership; that’s how we trained him. He’s not a follower, he’s a leader.”
The first thing that sticks when you’re around Marcus and the family is that they are getting a high-character person,” said King. “I have coached a lot of kids who have had talent, but not always high character. When you’re able to blend the two of them together, then you’ve got someone who has a chance to be special.”
“I like Pfeiffer because it’s a small campus,” said Patricia. “The classrooms are really small. I think he’ll learn a whole lot more in a small classroom.
“Pfeiffer University is well known — other than basketball — for criminal justice. I have met the criminal justice director, and he talked to us about that. … They could go into the FBI when they leave school.”
“Marcus loves to watch cop shows on TV. He’d arrest his own momma if he could,” she joked.
Marcus said he likely would start with the U.S. Marshals Service. Once a student has the classroom work complete, there is an internship program in Washington, D.C., for which he could apply.
“North Surry has been very good with my sons the past four years,” said Patricia. “They really have pushed my kids in sports further.”
Older brother Stephen made all-conference for football. And before them, Bruce was an all-conference basketball player at Patrick County High.
Of course, Patricia noted, the game is fine and dandy, but his education comes first.
“He knows education is first,” said Bruce. “He don’t have to worry about that. … He’ll just have to remember what he was taught growing up.”
“He knows our Christian values,” said Patricia. And if he gets out of line, his aunt Heather Lewis lives close to the university, and Momma can be there in an hour and 45 minutes.