By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Every basketball team has its general, a floor leader that is able to take control on the court, dish the ball, score when needed and motivate teammates to put forth their best effort. For the Bluefield Beavers, that player is Lykel Collier.
A three-year starter, second team-All State as a sophomore, first team as a junior and a past Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Year, Collier in two games last week scored 26 points, dished out 20 assists and had three steals in wins over Wyoming East and Graham to earn Player of the Week honors.
Four days after losing their first game of the season, along with one of the team’s top players in Michael Yost, the Beavers, who fell from No. 1 to No. 3, defeated the No. 2 Wyoming East Warriors 69-44. Collier scored 15 points. A night later against the G-Men of Graham he scored 11.
“In the Wyoming East game I came out with a quick start and it got me going and that’s what I wanted coming off that Greenbrier East loss, a quick start, playing good and helping our team to victory,” Collier said.
“With Michael (Yost) being out, everybody had to step up on the defensive end and rebounding because he guarded the best offensive player and he rebounded a lot. He was also shooting the ball very well before he got hurt.”
Collier and the Beavers the next night topped their cross-town rivals, the Graham G-Men. The win gave Collier and the other seniors on the team a perfect 8-0 record against Graham in their high school career.
“It was about bragging rights,” Collier said. “It was good knowing we never did lose to Graham. We did have some tough games against them.”
Beavers head coach Buster Large spoke of his point guard for the past four seasons.
“He’s a very steady, very good performer who really stepped it up and played outstanding in games against both teams,” Large said. “We told several seniors that we needed a big game from them and they needed to step it up due to Michael Yost’s absence.
“He (Collier) is like a quarterback on the floor. He’s an extremely good ball handler, very intelligent, pushes the ball well. We are just so happy to have him back this year.”
Collier said the team is extremely focused this year and has its sights set on defending their state championship.
“Knowing this is our last year, we (the seniors) want to go out on top. We don’t want to lose,” Collier said. “That’s our mantra — win every game, knowing this is the last time we play these opponents on their floor, or our floor and we don’t want to lose to them.”
The 5’11 guard said that the person he looks up to and admires in basketball is his father, Lydell Collier.
“My father motivated me. He played basketball and he was the one who put a basketball into my hands,” Collier said. “And Mike Smalls, he’s helped me over the years develop my game, and our coaching staff at Bluefield High School has helped me become a better player, and Mike Eades, he has helped me a lot.”
Large said, “He can do it all. Last season he had 250 assists which is unheard of for a point guard. He doesn’t care about scoring. He’s a great defensive player, a great offensive player, a great leader. He just really contributes in all phases of the game.”
Collier hopes to continue his career after he graduates from Bluefield later this spring. He said numerous colleges, including Bluefield College, UVa.-Wise, junior colleges and many schools in the Mountain East Conference have been in contact with him, but he has not yet made a decision as to where he will attend college.
“After the season I am going to take some visits to colleges and sit down with my family, coaches, and talk it out, weigh it out and see where I am going to college,” Collier said. “My future is to play college basketball.”
— Contact Bob Redd at email@example.com or Twitter @bdtredd.
Player of the Week Honorable Mention
Bluefield — Anthony Eades, 41 pts., 9 rebounds; Jordan Ponder, 21 pts., 4 steals.
Graham — Colby Hill, 61 pts./week, plus 3 blocks vs. Bluefield; Tony Hood, 22 pts./week, plus 5 steals, 3 assists, 4 rebounds vs. Bluefield; Roman Workman, 32 pts./week.
Grundy — Charles McCoy, 29 pts./week, plus 16 rebounds, 5 assists vs. Richlands; Jordan McCoy, 23 pts.
Hurley — Dylan Billiter 11 pts. in one game.
Mercer Christian — Daniel Boothe, 55 points and 9 steals in 2 games, plus 6 rebounds in one game.
Narrows — Chandler Burton, 28 pts. in one game; Austin Lively, 14 pts.
PikeView — Zach Meadows, 30 pts. in 2 games, plus 15 rebounds in 1 game; Seth Meadows, 24 pts. in 2 games, plus 6 rebounds, 5 assists in 1 game; Jason Weitzel, 23 pts.
Princeton — Aaron Ferguson, 27 pts. in 2 games, plus 5 rebounds in 1 game; Colton Fix, 26 pts.; Zen Clements, 13 pts.
Richlands — Ben Brown, 20 pts. in 2 games, plus 18 rebounds in win over Grundy; Luke Phillips, 20 pts., plus 5 assists in 1 game; Grant Herndon, 17 pts.; Ethan Ratliff, 17 pts.
Summers County — Terry Smith, 27 pts. to go over 1,000 in career; Ashton Garten, 15 pts.
Tazewell — Colin Hancock, 16 pts. in 1 game; Juwan Jordan, 13 pts.
Wyoming East — Christian Hedinger, 29 pts./2 games; Austin Canada, 20 pts.
Player of Week
Week 1: Anthony Eades, Bluefield
Week 2: Ben Brown, Richlands
Week 3: Colby Hill, Graham
Week 4: Aaron Ferguson, Princeton
Week 5: Michael Yost, Bluefield
Week 6: Lykel Collier, Bluefield