Lake Norman & Mooresville

Star duo adds more than talent to Davidson Day

Davidson Day could be a force to be reckoned with when basketball season rolls around later this year.

With former North Mecklenburg forward Bernard Sullivan and former Cannon guard Keith Belfield transferring to the school for their senior season, the team should be in prime position to make a run for the NCISAA 1A state championship.

And that's exactly what the two stars, who are highly touted Division I recruits, want to accomplish in Davidson.

"I want my state championship ring - that's what I'm going for," said Belfield, who averaged 20 points and six rebounds per game at Cannon last season.

Sullivan, who averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Vikings last season, quickly agreed.

"Neither one of us have one so coming in we're definitely hungry," said the big man, who has received interest from Clemson, Davidson, Georgia, Harvard, Penn State, South Carolina, South Florida, UNC Charlotte, Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth.

But Davidson Day head basketball coach Ron Johnson, who has won two state championships - one in Florida and another at Cannon, said it's a bit early to start thinking about titles.

"If you just focus on that, you're going to miss a lot along the way," he said. "We're just trying to get better every day."

Sullivan said it was hard to make the decision to leave North Meck for his season year.

"But you want to go somewhere that's better - somewhere that will get you prepared for the next level," he explained. "I think this school, this program, the coach and the team as a whole will make me better - get me ready for college."

Sullivan said he knew he wanted to play for Johnson the first time he worked out with him earlier this year.

"I'd heard about him before and how he's one of the best coaches around," he said. "He knows his stuff."

Belfield said he had similar reasons for transferring to Davidson Day, the biggest being to once again play for Johnson, who he played under in eighth and ninth grades.

"I knew that I wanted to come out here and finish my high school career with him because he could get me much more ready for college," he said.

Johnson explained that Belfield's experience with his system should make for a quick adjustment.

"He understands what we do - my offensive and defensive philosophy hasn't changed," said Johnson, adding that he's been impressed with Sullivan's ability to quickly pick up his system.

The coach explained that his team is getting to know each other better this summer, which should help when the season kicks off in November. Belfield and Sullivan seem to be fitting right in with their new teammates.

"They have gotten along with the kids who were already here," said Johnson. "They're good players, but they don't have a superstar mentality."

Belfield - who has offers from Charlotte, Furman, Liberty, Presbyterian and Richmond and interest from Appalachian State, Davidson, Georgia, Virginia Tech and William & Mary - has quickly become one of the vocal leaders of the team.

Meanwhile, Sullivan said he's much more of a leader-by-example player.

"If people see us working hard, they're working hard," said Sullivan.

Belfield agreed.

"We talk about winning a state championship, but it takes so much work to actually win it that we have to be intense every day and work as hard as possible," he said.

Johnson said that mentality has increased the intensity at practice, which should pay off for the team.

"The guys who are here already aren't going to be ones who back down to anybody," said Johnson, explaining how his Patriots are starting to flourishing against the high-level competition that Sullivan and Belfield have brought to the team.

But these two players aren't the only additions to the Davidson Day roster. Belfield's younger brother, David, will also be a Patriot next year as well as their Cannon teammate Jason Eddie, the younger brother of Virginia Tech signee Jarrell Eddie.

Davidson Day officials confirmed that Sullivan's North Meck teammate Philip Anglade, a 6-4 forward, has been accepted to the school, but had yet to enroll.

The Patriots return eight players - including two starters - from last season's 22-7 team, but even with the returning talent and its new additions only time will tell how competitive the team will be against top 1A teams like United Faith.

"It's still too early to tell," said Johnson.