Northern's Council lights it up in East-West All-Star Game

Jul. 23, 2014 @ 05:54 PM

Society’s real transient these days. There’s so much movement.

Grown-ups routinely change careers. They change addresses.

And sometimes their kids change schools, moving from field to field, from gym to gym, hoping for a better bounce from the ball.

Not Ricky Council II. He began his prep basketball career at Northern High School and stayed there, this past season helping the Knights snatch both regular-season and conference-tournament titles in the 4-A PAC-6.

Those titles were Northern’s first since 1990. The Knights went 26-3 and made it to the third round of the playoffs, losing at the buzzer to Apex High School.

Council is 6-feet-5-inches tall, 190 pounds with pistons for legs he uses to get off the floor for dunks, but mainly to deposit feathery jumpers. He scored 23 points in that loss to Apex. Council put up numbers like that all season.

But Council had something to prove Monday night in Greensboro Coliseum during the N.C. Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game. The West won 98-86, but Council led the East with 21 points. It took him a while to get going, but he found his mojo in the second half and had it working.

Council right now could make good on scholarship offers to play at lower-level Division I schools.

But he’d tell you his game could translate at schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference or the Big Ten, for example — big-boy schools.

The East-West game presented a stage for Council to show and prove that he can bring it with the best of them. It was about displaying “just the total package,” Council said. “It’s my last high school game, so (I wanted) to go as hard as I can and impress everybody and myself.”

Council, 19, said he’s holding out hope that a high-level Division I school will give him a shot. The snubbing so far is good motivation in the meantime, he said.

“I’ve just been playing in the summer with a (showcase) team and working on my game some more and showing everybody how good I am,” Council said.

Council might have been able to finagle some extra exposure for himself if he’d done the school-hopping thing.

“That hasn’t phased me,” Council said.

Council said the relationships he cultivated at Northern validated his decision to stay put.

“I can never give back what happened at Northern,” he said.

Council was nominated for the McDonald’s All-American Games in Chicago’s United Center this past April. The boys’ basketball portion of that event featured guys who this coming season will suit up for schools like Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky. At the time, Council was averaging 25 points, five rebounds and three assists per game.

But Council didn’t get picked to play with the McDonald’s All-Americans, and he said that snub drove him to keep putting up strong numbers during his senior season. He did it unselfishly, staying within the framework of Northern coach Ronnie Russell’s offense.

Scott McInnes, the head basketball coach at Raleigh’s Millbrook High School, was an assistant coach for the East team. He said Council’s got game.

“You can tell he’s a smart kid. He’s got a good feel for the game. He can really, really shoot the ball,” McInnes said. “He’s got good height, too.

“I definitely know there’s a Division I school out there that wants him. It depends on how high.”

N.C. State basketball coach Mark Gottfried was in the arena. His son, Cameron, who played at Raleigh’s Broughton High School, played for the East team.

Council is one of those unselfish players who doesn’t put on a big show of braggadocio when he beats his man for a bucket. He simply allows his game to attract the attention.

That nasty dunk he threw down in the second half of the East-West game raised some eyebrows in Greensboro Coliseum.

Some big-time college coaches might catch that on YouTube.

NOTES — The East-West girls’ game was played before the boys battled and featured reigning 3-A champions Jamella Smith and Catherine Romaine from Chapel Hill High School. Smith, who earned a basketball scholarship to S.C. State, scored four points and had six rebounds for the East, coached by East Chapel Hill High School coach Michelle Wood. Romaine, who earned a basketball scholarship to Bucknell University, scored four points and had two rebounds. Former West Craven High School guard Jamie Cherry was on that East team and had 24 points to go with nine rebounds, both game highs, doing it with flashes of that athletic moxie of hers that she’ll bring to North Carolina this fall. But the West won 82-68.