Kelsey Dean dreamed of growing up to become a great player on the basketball court long before it started becoming a reality.Growing up in a basketball-crazed family, Dean developed a passion for the game early on.From the time she first laced up her basketball shoes, playing with her father, Stephen, on the backyard hoop to her first game in the Huntersville Youth Athletic Association at age 7 to this year at Hough, where she averages 15 points and six rebounds per game, the game has been a constant in her life.Basketball is and always has been a big part of who I am, said Dean, a 5-foot-10 junior forward for the Huskies. The game has always been such a big part of my familys life. Ever since I can remember, Ive been watching, playing and practicing basketball pretty much year round.Dean, 17, has evolved into one of the top players for a Hough team that has gone from a brand-new program to an I-Meck contender in three short seasons.Dean has come up big in key games with a season-high 21 points against both Chapel Hill and Hopewell, while scoring 17 points in an upset win against Berry and 16 points in what could turn out to be crucial win against I-Meck rival Mallard Creek on Jan. 22.Kelsey is a throwback type of player, who does all of the little things to get ahead, said first-year Hough coach Jason Smith. She not only worked very hard this offseason, but she is like a sponge, constantly picking things up, studying the game, watching film. I think we are starting to see all of this pay off for her.Dean said she spent most of the offseason working on her agility, athleticism and speed.Dean, who also spent countless hours shooting and working on her inside moves in the gym, also got a lot of exposure and experience with her Carolina Warriors AAU team.Dean hopes that all of her work on the basketball court will translate into an opportunity to play college basketball.While Deans future could be bright, she still has unfinished business at Hough, where her basketball family looks to leave a championship legacy behind.Hough has greatly benefitted from a tight-knit group of girls in juniors Julia Brown, Olivia DeMarcus, Anna Diggs and Dean. That group, along with senior Brandi Arey, not only forms the Huskies starting lineup, but has also played together since their sixth-grade year.We have a chemistry that most teams will never have, said Dean. Getting to start together for three to four years, I think that gives us a big advantage and has helped us come so far, so fast as a team.To help Hough take the next step, Smith has incorporated a more up-tempo approach that allows Hough to use its athletic ability and experience to pressure other teams into mistakes on both ends of the court.This year, weve really tried to open up the game and given our girls a lot more freedom, Smith said. These girls are not just basketball players, but also great athletes. They want to compete hard on every play and so I think our system is working really well for them.Hough, which starts the year 13-6, 7-4, is looking to keep pace with first-place North Meck as well as Mallard Creek in the I-Meck standings.Although a regular-season title is out of the question, Dean and the Huskies won the I-Meck tournament title last season and are looking for a repeat performance. The I-Meck basketball tournament kicks off on Feb. 11 at Lake Norman High.We definitely want to win another conference championship or two, Dean said. But our ultimate goal before were done is to win a state championship. That would a great way to go out.This article went to print before Houghs Feb. 8 game against Mooresville.
Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013
Junior Kelsey Dean evolves into one of Hough's top players
Mallard Creek's Chandre Crawford (left) tries to grab the ball from Hough's Kelsey Dean, who leads the Huskies in scoring. ROBERT LAHSER - firstname.lastname@example.org