Powell selected head coach of All-Star team

Published 8:21 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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CHARLOTTE – Veteran Lawrence Academy boys basketball coach Jon Powell will lead the East squad in the 10th annual North Carolina Private School All-Star Basketball Games slated for Saturday, March 4 at Providence Day School in Charlotte.

The games will feature some of the top senior boys and girls basketball players in the state of North Carolina. The sponsors for this year’s games, Johnson Lambe Company and Badger Sports, will be providing all uniforms and apparel for the event.

Powell just finished his 28th season as a varsity head coach. He has spent the past 16 years at Lawrence Academy where he has won over 250 games.

The West team will be coached by Frank Cantadore of Concord Academy. Cantadore has compiled a record of 285-91 in his 11 years at Concord where his teams have won three state titles.

Powell said he was surprised when he was notified of his selection as the East All-Stars head coach.

It was a shock to be called,” he said. “The All-Star game has been going on for about 10 years now, and I really never paid much attention to it since it is very rare for someone this far east to make the roster. But, it is a huge honor to be selected, and I hope we can be successful.”

Powell launched his coaching career in 1992.

“I was employed by Lawrence Academy at that time. They needed a girls [basketball] coach and I volunteered to do it,” he recalled.

He left Lawrence to coach at Enfield Academy (1995-96), Halifax Academy (1996-98), and Cary Academy (1998-2007).

“Cary Academy was a real experience as I started the program and earned the school’s first and only conference basketball championship in 2000,” Powell said.

He returned to Lawrence Academy in 2008.

Despite his longevity in the coaching business, Powell admits to still getting excited as each new season begins.

“It’s always exciting to see what type of team will show up,” he noted. “And then begins the process of building that team. It’s always a challenge to figure out how to fit the pieces together.”

When asked what has been the most rewarding part of almost three decades coaching,” Powell pointed to the fact that he had been able to see young people discover a love for the game.

“Many kids are not exposed to ‘real’ basketball, but when they are they often are hooked,” he stressed. “Others might say their number of wins, but that’s never been a reason for my coaching. I just love the game and the kids.

“I’ve won a lot of games, coach of the year awards, and championships, but in the end, the biggest accomplishment is to watch these young men develop,” Powell added. “From the thrill of a young man scoring in a middle school game to the equally thrilling excitement of scoring five or six years later in a varsity game – that’s all the reward I need.”

For Saturday’s All-Star games, head coaches and athletic directors from across the state nominated over 100 players for consideration for the games. Selection committees then worked to narrow the rosters down into two teams for each game that represent all of the private school classifications and regions in North Carolina. The boys and girls games will feature a combined 22 players that have already made commitments to play college basketball next season, with several more players who anticipate committing in the coming weeks.

Kelvin Drakeford, from Cannon School in Concord, will coach the girls West team. Drakeford recently completed his 6th season there as the head girls basketball coach. In 2021 he led the Cougars to their first-ever state championship in girls basketball.

The East girls team will be led by John Williams of Asheville Christian Academy. In nine seasons, Williams has won two state championships along with a pair of state runner-up finishes. Under Williams, numerous players have gone on to compete at the collegiate level.

Saturday’s games will take place in Mosack Athletic Center on the campus of Providence Day School. The girls game will start at 12 noon followed by the boys game at 2 pm.

In addition to the game on Saturday, all players and coaches will participate in a community service project on Friday afternoon in the Charlotte community.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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