Lake Norman & Mooresville

Blue Devils' guard uses struggles as inspiration

After having a hard time staying competitive in their first year in 4A and the I-Meck Conference, Mooresville might be one of the most experienced and talented returning teams in the league.

But how far the team goes depends on how well shooting guard Shawn Lester, a returning all-conference player who has garnished a lot of interest from Division I schools, plays.

The 6-foot-3 junior has the ability to score off the dribble and has a jumpshot that has many college coaches drooling. But Lester's talent wasn't enough for a young Mooresville team to compete within a talented conference last year.

The Blue Devils struggled, going 7-16 (2-11 in the I-Meck), but that experience motivated Lester to become a better basketball player.

"Last year was wild; it really irritated me a lot," said Lester.

Mooresville coach Mike Micklow isn't surprised by how much losing bothered Lester.

"He always wants to win - that has been his attitude the last couple of years and that's what we want him to portray to the younger kids," said Micklow.

Lester, who averaged 17.5 points and 4.5 assists per game last season, knew what was expected of him this year, so that's why he put in countless of hours this summer to improve.

Micklow thinks that Lester's work has paid off, explaining that in addition to getting bigger and faster, his defensive intensity has seen a big improvement.

The coach has also been impressed by the steps Lester has made in becoming a better leader.

"He's really taken ownership of this team," said Micklow.

But Lester thinks the biggest thing he learned this summer was that he doesn't have to have the ball in his hands all the time for his team to win.

"I trust my teammates and I'm more calm on the floor," he said. "I'm waiting for my shot, moving around without the ball."

Lester admits that in the last few seasons he's been all over the court trying to make plays for his team, but playing alongside talented players on his AAU team, the CP3 All-Stars, made him realize that he needed to get his fellow Blue Devils involved.

Lester, who has already gotten scholarship offers from N.C. State and Duquesne, has high hopes for Mooresville.

"I know this year will be much better, we have chemistry on the court," he explained. "We can win conference and have a chance at states."

The Blue Devils should be among the top teams in the I-Meck, as they return four of five of last year's starters - Lester, senior point guard Isaiah Johnson, junior small forward Kendrick Johnson and sophomore power forward Dre Howell.

"We're very deep this year - we have those top four guys, but that fifth guy could be anybody that we want," said Micklow.

Freshman Raphael Montgomery, sophomore Brandon Bego and senior Kyle Haslett should play key minutes, while senior Brandon Smith, a 6-foot-7 center who has been playing well lately, should help the team in the post.

Micklow said his team is ready for its second go-around in the I-Meck.

"We want some paybacks," he said. "We feel like we can compete with Mallard Creek and West Charlotte, who we feel are probably the top two teams in our conference."

Lester hopes to continue what has been a good year, in which he led the Blue Devil football team on a turnaround - from not winning no games last year to making the playoffs and going 8-4.

"Football got me aggressive," said Lester, explaining that this should translate onto the basketball court. "I want to go to the hole - if people hit me I want to bounce off of them and make 'and-ones.'"

Lester feels like he still has a lot to prove and won't be happy until he's the best player in the conference.

"If I put my mind to it and work harder than everyone, everyday, I can be better."