Baseball standout makes impact on the hardwood

Despite signing to play baseball at South Carolina and being a top 50 prospect in this year's MLB Draft, Corey Seager never questioned whether he should play basketball for Northwest Cabarrus.

"I would hate sitting up in the stands just watching them play and thinking I didn't play because I was scared I would get hurt for baseball," he said.

Seager said basketball, which he says helps him work on his speed and stay in shape, gives him a release from the pressures that come with being a star player on the baseball field.

"It's just a fun way to get away from baseball," the senior said. "It gets my mind off of it."

Seager has been playing basketball to do just that since he was 11. During the offseason, he often goes to work on his shooting and plays pickup with his brothers, Justin and Kyle, who plays with the Seattle Mariners.

But the youngest Seager is doing much more than just relaxing and having fun this year on the hardwood.

"I don't know if you can put into words what he means to this team," said Trojans' basketball coach Daniel Jenkins. "I'm just glad he's playing."

After being largely a role player his first two years on the team, averaging 3.3 points a game as a sophomore before tallying 8.2 points per contest last season, Seager has taken a bigger role on the largely inexperienced team.

The shooting guard started the year leading the Trojans by scoring more than 14 points a game, while also adding two assists, six rebounds and two steals per game.

"He does a little bit of everything," said Jenkins. "He does it all well."

Seager, who continues to work on his baseball skills nearly every day with his dad to stay ready for the spring, also leads the team in 3-pointers, having converted 32 long-distance shots heading into last Friday's game against Central Cabarrus.

Jenkins said the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has also become more a leader for the Trojans, showing them the way with his hard-working demeanor.

Seager said he's used to being the leader because of baseball, which he explains has helped him stay cool and collected when action gets intense on the basketball court.

The 17-year-old added that he tries to keep his teammates motivated and to help them shake off bad decisions to prevent frustration.

The Trojans have struggled at times this year, starting the season with a disappointing 3-9 record.

"We've lost some games we probably should've won," said Seager. "But we're a new team, so we're just getting there. We're starting to come together now."

Despite having seven seniors on the roster, Northwest Cabarrus doesn't have many returning guys with varsity playing time.

Seager said some of the team's struggles derive from not having the experience to know how to play with a lead.

Jenkins agreed.

"We still don't know how to handle success," he said. "Right now, it's like a virus. We're trying to get rid of. That should take care of itself the more we play."

Freshman Derrick Farquharson has been a nice surprise for the Trojans. The guard is second on the team in scoring, averaging more than 11 points a game.

Junior guard Robbie Hagopian as well as senior forwards Joe Richardson and E.J. Rhinehart also have contributed for Northwest.

Jenkins said his team, which got its first South Piedmont Conference win last week when it upset Hickory Ridge 54-52, has shown it has the potential to make a late-season turnaround.

"If we keep working and have faith in each other, we're going to get where we need to go," Jenkins said.

He added that the team's goal is to make the playoffs, which would require his Trojans to finish among the top five teams in the SPC.

"I would not be surprised to see Northwest in the top three," said Jenkins.

Seager is looking forward to his last baseball season at Northwest, but for now he's focused on helping his team make the most out of what's left of basketball season.

"We have some talent. We're just not winning," said Seager. "But it's coming. ... We're on our rise."