Patience is key

Published 5:00 pm Sunday, June 8, 2014

By Jessika Morgan

Kinston Free-Press

KINSTON – Andrew Lopez played his part.

The Kinston High School point guard earned his starting job, All-Conference honors and the Most Outstanding Player award in the Vikings’ third consecutive state title game.

After Kinston basketball closed another successful chapter, Lopez was looking for the start of his next one. All it took was a qualifying SAT score, and the 5-foot-11 point guard found what he was looking for.

Lopez signed with Chowan University last Thursday at Kinston High School.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Lopez, who actually committed May 26. “I really didn’t know what I was going to do because of my SAT scores. I didn’t know if I was going to JUCO or prep. But once I got the scores I needed, Chowan jumped on it and I accepted the offer.”

Kinston’s three-time state champion averaged 12.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in his senior season with the Vikings.

Chowan coach Brett Vincent just finished his second season with a 12-15 record; the Hawks only won six games his first year.

The rebuilding aspect of Chowan basketball influenced Lopez to make the swift decision to attend the school. He was also offered by Mount Olive, but two guards from the 2014 class had already signed with the Trojans.

“He wanted to be able to go somewhere where he could play,” Kinston coach Perry Tyndall said. “It looks like (the new coaching staff) is making steps in the right direction, and I think Andrew is just a great player, good kid and going to have the opportunity to step in and impact immediately, which is appealing to him.”

As a first-year starter, Lopez scored 106 points in this year’s playoffs. He’ll play in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) next year, joining several Kinston basketball graduates, including Josh Dawson (Fayetteville State) and Marquez Jones (Winston-Salem State).

“I think it’s going to be fun and definitely interesting for everybody else coming to watch,” Lopez said. “I’m definitely ready and looking forward to it.”

The campus is located in Murfreesboro, about two hours north of Kinston, the basketball hub where he was a significant part of the team’s success his senior season.

He moved to Texas his 11th grade year after his parents separated but wound up being welcomed back to the Vikings’ program upon his return.

“It wasn’t really hard transitioning back to Kinston because the coaches knew me, everyone else knew me,” Lopez said. “They knew what I could do, and they put me right back in.”

Tyndall said Lopez has developed into a guard who can shoot and come off the dribble. He was recruited to play the point but will be able to do either at the Division II level.

“You can’t put a price on players that can shoot the basketball now, in some ways it’s becoming a lost art,” Tyndall said. “(Andrew is) just a pure shooter and has got a great basketball IQ. He’s just a tough player. Over the years, I’ve known that, but that’s what I’ve constantly heard from coaches.”

Lopez has met Vincent and his staff and likes that they are “straight forward.” The senior guard was honest about being fueled by Kinston basketball’s hungry attitude, noting it will allow him to make his new teammates better.

It may be tough to argue with a three-time state champ.

“A lot of people don’t understand how hard you have to work to do things,” Lopez said. “It’s not easy winning three state championships in a row. Every year we push ourselves; we put that expectation on our own selves.”