Very rarely do you see a McDonald's All-American candidate get yanked from a game, but that's just what happened to J.J. Redick and some of his Cave Spring H.S. teammates at the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament.
After Cave Spring fell behind by more than 20 points to perennial New York City power Christ the King H.S., Knights Head Coach Billy Hicks opted to yank all five starters early in the third quarter of a 57-37 loss to the Royals.
Redick and the rest of the starters never returned, and J.J. authored what will likely be his ugliest stat line of the season: a 17 minute, seven point, four turnover performance that included just 2/11 shooting from the field and 1/5 output from beyond the three point arc.
"I just did not feel like we were playing with the effort and the energy that we need to be successful," Hicks said. "In the game last night [against Oxon Hill], we played with great energy against a team that was much more talented than us, and we had a shot to win the game."
"Today, we played a very similar opponent and we laid down," Hicks continued. "It's early in the season, and I had to send a message that we are going to play guys who want to play.
Cave Spring trailed by a point after the first quarter, but a disastrous second quarter for the Knights saw Christ the King grab a 39-22 half-time edge. The Royals extended the lead to 48-24 in the second half, and seemingly could name their score in an easy romp.
So Hicks pulled Redick and the other starters early in the third quarter and never re-inserted them back into the game.
"I would have put them back in if they had asked to go back in, but not a one of them asked to go back in," Hicks said. "So that just told me that they weren't interested in playing basketball today."
Hicks said he has used this measure before in 14 years of coaching, but that this was the first time that none of his players asked to go back into the game.
Redick struggled mightily against Christ the King, a day after nearly leading the Knights to an upset win over Oxon Hill. The Royals defended Redick tightly and he was unable to get untracked during his short stint.
"It's tough, because he's frustrated," Hicks said. "He's not getting a lot of open looks because nobody else is stepping up. Last year, we had two big time scorers that played alongside of him, and they set him up a lot. He's not getting set up any and he's having to do more off the dribble."
"And then he gets frustrated and puts up quick shots instead of getting stuff that comes within our offense," Hicks continued. "Instead of coming off screens, he is trying to beat smaller, quicker guys off the dribble, and of course they are running two and three guys at him and making someone else on our team score. We are not getting that right now."
Hicks said it's a matter of Redick playing consistently hard every night on both ends of the floor.
"When he does that, there's not a better offensive player in the country," Hicks said. "He's very capable on the defensive end and he just needs to do that every night. [Duke Asst. Coach] Wojo was here last night and J.J. played really hard."
While Redick is clearly relied upon heavily to produce much of the offense at Cave Spring this year, he'll have things a bit easier at Duke. Depending on whether Jason Williams returns, he could be stepping into one of the top collegiate perimeter groups in the country next fall with Chris Duhon, Mike Dunleavy and Williams.
"He is going to get better shots at Duke than he gets with us because they have so many weapons," Hicks said. "He is going to have a true point guard, and he's never played with one at our school, and he's never played with a true post player."
"Last year, we had three guards who could really score, but this year, he has to do a whole lot more off the dribble," Hicks continued. "There are things that he can get away with at Cave Spring that he'll never get away with at Duke, and if he does take a night off, he won't play."
Still, Hicks expects Redick to have a bright future in the ACC.
"I look for him to have an extremely successful four-year career at Duke," he concluded. "If he gives the effort he's capable of giving, he will have that."