North Surry’s Khaileel Dailey is going the prep route to improve his stock for college.
The Western Piedmont Conference player of the year saw a jump in productivity in his senior year, but is still trying to catch the eye of college scouts.
By putting in a year at a preparatory school, Khaileel can get better and impress more scouts. That’s a plan that has worked for a couple of local basketball stars in recent years.
Ethan Wilmoth and Scott Meredith also were players of the year in their senior seasons, but the attention they received was from smaller schools. Many of them were Division III schools that can’t offer an athletic scholarships.
After a year at a prep school, Wilmoth is now at UNC-Asheville and Meredith is headed to Saint Francis University.
Khaileel said he was in an AAU tournament and was noticed by coaches from Catawba College.
While they liked what they saw, the coaches thought he could benefit from a year at prep school.
Dad Phillip said assistant coach Brian Graves, a three-time all-conference player himself at Catawba, recommended Ridgeview Preparatory to the family.
Ridgeview is a small prep school in Hickory. Phillip said he likes that the team plays a tough, national schedule and that they emphasize education and getting better scores on the SAT.
Head coach Tyreek Ramseur said he doesn’t want players to learn enough to simply get a qualifying score on the SAT; he wants them to greatly improve as that will help with recruiting, opening more options.
As for the hardcourt, Ramseur said, “I will push Khaileel in a way he’s never been pushed before. … The scary part is that he can get better. He’s already been good, but he can get better.
“I have the time and the experience to make that happen,” said the coach, who will be entering his third season at Ridgeview and 15th season coaching overall.
Ramseur said he plans to try Khaileel at the point guard while also getting him some time at the two-guard spot.
A slender 6-foot-2, Khaileel would have to grow a few inches and put on some muscle to play shooting guard in college, so his best bet to wow scouts is to show he can run the point, the coach reasoned.
Khaileel can still be a scoring threat from the point, he added.
The senior admitted he is still working on his ballhandling abilities, running drills like dribbling with two balls at the same time and chaining together moves like crossovers and hesitations.
In high school, Khaileel could run faster or jump higher than his opponents, but at the next level he will have to outthink guys with similar athletic ability.
He will be in the gym or weight room up to five hours a day, the coach said.
“He will be held accountable for his talent, and he’s got a lot of talent.”
Proving that he’s got what it takes shouldn’t be an issue for Khaileel, his dad said. He’s been doing that for years.
Khaileel had been playing ball since he was four or five years old, but when he was eight, he was hit by a car, Phillip said.
Both the tibia and fibula were broken in his lower leg, said mom Joy.
Even before the cast came off, Khaileel was back outside practicing his shooting.
He started playing with some cousins in Flat Rock, Phillip said. They were older and would knock him down. He would get so mad he would cry, but that made him determined to get better so he could win.
At Mount Airy Middle School, he won a league title with future Granite Bears like Isiah Simmons, Dylan Gallimore and Sihem Smith.
At Mount Airy High, the Bears had enough talent to spread the ball around. Khaileel would show spurts where he was dominant, but then disappear for stretches of the game.
Before his senior season, Khaileel transferred from Mount Airy to North Surry for a fresh start and a chance to show more of what he could do.
When Mount Airy and North Surry played in Toast last season, Khaileel got out in transition and the Greyhounds couldn’t stop him. Coach Kevin King said Khaileel put up about 25 points on his team that night.
When the two teams played again at Mount Airy, King had his guys back off so they wouldn’t get beat off the dribble and dared Khaileel to beat them with his jumper.
King said he told Khaileel this as soon as he found out the senior was coming to the Hounds.
“He learned to trust his teammates as well as himself. There were things that he was capable of that he had not done in the past,” said King.
Khaileel put in the repetitions, working to get better with his jumper. He shot a respectable 34 percent from deep. In a home game with West Stokes, Khaileel went off for seven three-pointers.
He also has a very underrated midrange game from 10 to 15 feet, King said.
“He learned that he can have a huge impact on the defensive end,” said King. Khaileel has the athletic ability to be a lockdown defender on the ball and the instincts to be great off the ball, too.
Being new to the school could have made Khaileel timid, but he said that was never a problem. He was familiar with the guys before he started at North, and they gelled together right away.
The senior said one area where he grew this year was helping make his teammates better. Either by being a facilitator on the court or being the spark when the team needed a lift or by calming them down when they got too wound up or discouraged.
He helped North win its first outright conference title since 1999.
Along the way he earned all-conference, player of the year, all-district and the NCPreps 2A all-state team.
The one thing that North Surry couldn’t provide Khaileel was someone just like him to practice against, said King. Next year he will go against guys in practice who have similar quickness and leaping ability, which will make him better.
North also didn’t have some 6-foot-9 rim protector that could block his shots, King said. He needs to get used to some center guarding the rim.
Ramseur said the first time he talked to King, the two coaches were on the phone nearly two hours talking about Khaileel’s game. Ramseur didn’t ask what the senior could do well; he wanted to know what Khaileel doesn’t do well.
With a good support system and a good foundation in coaching, the floodgates will continue to open for Khaileel, Ramseur said.
And that should result in some college offers next year.