By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Asher Dillow attended a basketball game at Bluefield College’s Dome Gymnasium on Thursday night.
He could be playing on the same floor in a few months...for the Rams.
Dillow, the 5-foot-8 sharpshooter from Bland County, committed last week to further his education and continue his basketball career at Bluefield College during a ceremony at Rocky Gap High School.
“I did want to go ahead and make a decision, I was really starting to get nervous. I was thinking ‘Oh lord, I don’t want to think too long,’” Dillow said. “Bluefield had been trying to get me to sign for a week or two, but I am glad to get it over with.
“Now I know what is going to happen, I know where I am going and I feel confident about it.”
Known for his ability to shoot the ball with unlimited range, Dillow had several suitors, but Bluefield was at the top of his list.
“There were three or four more that were going to offer full rides, but the main thing is I wanted to stay close to home,” said Dillow, who also had contact with Bluefield State, Lees-McRae, Glenville State and Wingate, among others. “I have a lot of friends and family right here close to home and they can just travel over the mountain and come here and watch me play ball.”
A four-year starter at Bland County, Dillow is a 5-foot-8 guard who knew that his college basketball dreams would depend on his ability to shoot the basketball. He can do it well.
“I think that is a huge asset for me,” Dillow said. “Playing college in my range, I can step back. Where I am only 5’8, if I get too close they are just going to send it back so hopefully I will put enough range on it where they can’t get to it.”
It was that ability to shoot the ball that attracted Bluefield College head coach Richard Morgan, who is excited about the potential of Dillow to make the transition from a tiny high school to college basketball.
“He is a tough kid, he brings a little toughness for us,” Morgan said. “The main thing is how he shoots the basketball. That is what we want him to do.
“Once he figures out the schemes and the college game and sees how he fits in, that will decide how quickly he can get into the mix and plays long-term.”
Dillow is no stranger to the Dome Gymnasium, or to Bluefield assistant coach and past college star and NBA guard Keith “Mister” Jennings.
“I have known a lot of guys that have played here, they have helped me out a whole lot,” Dillow said. “I have known Coach Jennings for years.
“We would come in here in the summer time and work out, me and him have always been close. He has been recruiting me for a couple of years so I have got several guys here.”
Dillow has started for four seasons at Bland County, reaching the 1,000-point as a junior, and has led the Bears to a 12-9 record this year, with hopes of a long run in the Region C tournament, and possibly even a Division 1 state tournament berth.
“That is the goal,” Dillow said. “We want to make it all the way to state.”
Don’t count out the Bears. Dillow, who is joined as starters by fellow 1,000-point scorers Chase Hankins and Darryl Clark, feels like Bland County can take the next step, having been eliminated in each of the last two Region C tournaments by eventual state champion Galax.
The Bears open MED tournament play on Monday with the Maroon Tide.
“We started off the season pretty well, and we started having some injuries,” said Dillow, who had 20 points in Bland County’s key win over Graham last Friday. “I hurt my ankle, Darryl hurt his knee, Chase had a few nagging injuries, all of us starting getting hurt, ticky-tac (stuff), small injuries.
“I think we are slowly starting to get healthy again and we are going to start playing better ball.”
Dillow, like Hankins, Clark and John Miller, has started all four years for the Bears, taking some beatings early, but that work has paid off, not only for the team, but players like Dillow with aspirations for the next level.
“I think it has prepared me a lot, I have started varsity all four years since I was a freshman,” Dillow said. “Especially back when I was a freshman going against bigger and stronger guys, which I am sure I will see the same thing here going to one of the best NAIA conferences in the country.
“I will be out-manned every night so I am going to have to come in here and try to play hard.”
Morgan isn’t sure how quickly Dillow will get on the floor, but the Rams need shooters, and he could develop into instant offense for Bluefield.
“I don’t know if it will happen immediately or take a little time, but I think he will help us tremendously once he gets acclimated and once he understands what it is like playing with these guys, that will help him a lot,” Morgan said. “We have a couple of guys hanging around this summer so we are going to get in a summer league.
“That will be good for guys for him because the speed is going to be different with the way we run and the fast pace of the college game. It might be hard for him early, but I think he will adjust.
“One thing he can definitely do, he can shoot the basketball and play ‘d’.”
That is a good start.
“I think from that standpoint he will definitely help us,” Morgan said. “It will be a benefit for him and he will benefit our program.”
Dillow already knows what his role will be at Bluefield. It’s similar to what it is now with the Bears. He is currently averaging nearly 23 points a game, including highs of 37, 34 and 28, which included eight 3s.
“The coaches have told me they need to me come in and make shots,” Dillow said. “They have been struggling shooting the ball. I know they have had some eligibility issues with some of their guards that have not been eligible. I want to step in here next year and do what they ask me to do.”
—Contact Brian Woodson at firstname.lastname@example.org