Karter Yutzy -- Men's Basketball Player of the Year
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on March 20, 2005 2:11 AM
PRINCETON -- Princeton's men's basketball team held a more-than-comfortable 50-11 lead over North Duplin during a mid-season, Class 1-A Carolina Conference game.
Karter Yutzy, the team's catalyst and leading scorer, didn't let up.
The 6-foot-3 senior drew a charge and kept playing like the contest was a nailbiter. In fact, Yutzy drew a lot of charges -- leading the team in that underappreciated category. He was also the Bulldogs' leading rebounder, pulling down 11.2 per game to go with 21.8 points.
"The way he draws charges and he rebounds ... He did all those little things that sometimes he didn't have to do," second-year Princeton coach Jeff Davis said. "A lot of kids who are the star don't do those things. He leads by example with his work ethic in the weight room and practice.
"He's a role model in that regard."
By the end of his career, Yutzy recorded a school-record, 1,858 points. He scored 20 or more points in 49 games, including a 35-point, 19-rebound performance this season against Union. He never missed a game, scored in double figures in 86 of his 95 career games and led the team in free throw, field goal and three point percentage.
Oh yeah, he's also Princeton's Class of 2005 Valedictorian with a grade point average of 4.6.
Indeed, impressive numbers and achievements, but the individual stats weren't his main concern on the court.
Yutzy had a desire to make his senior-laden team better. Princeton only won three games in 2003-2004 and had managed just 13 victories overall and three Carolina wins in the three previous years.
Behind Yutzy's leadership by example and solid, overall improvement by his teammates, 2004-2005 was a different story.
The Bulldogs posted a 17-10 mark and went 7-5 in league play on their way to eventually earning the school's first N.C. High School Athletic Association playoff berth in six years. Princeton assured its postseason spot with a win over Spring Creek in the first round of the Carolina tournament -- breaking a tie between the two schools for the final spot.
For these reasons, Yutzy is the News-Argus 2004-2005 Men's Basketball Player of the Year.
"I think the experience of getting to play with each other was the biggest reason for the improvement," Yutzy said. "When coach Davis got here my junior year, he told us that we were building towards the next year. That's what we did.
"The stats don't really matter. Winning is what makes things a lot more memorable."
Yutzy, a first-team News-Argus selection as a junior, was obviously skilled as an underclassman. He and Davis immediately point to his ability to get stronger due to off-season work in the weight room as the biggest surge in his game.
"Our success was a byproduct of how they worked in the weight room," Davis said. "His (Yutzy's) skill-level raised because he got stronger."
His teammates seemed to get stronger as well -- physically and mentally.
Guards Brandon Pate (12 PPG) and Josh Thompson (10.8 PPG) evolved into consistent scorers with the ability to knock down the open jump shot. Three-sport athlete Bren Hall handled the point, while Deandre Dublin stepped up his all-around game.
"I got stronger, which helped my rebounding, and I didn't have as many turnovers this year," Yutzy said. "I think I shot the ball better, because I took less shots. Other people were stepping up and hitting shots. There wasn't as much pressure to do everything."
Yutzy, still undecided about his college choice, has seemed to narrow down the list to Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference foes Mount Olive and St. Andrews.
"I like both schools. I like both coaches," he said.
They obviously like him too -- even more so if he decides to bring his versatile, head-strong game to their campus.
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