Getting everyone involved Boys basketball: Virgil Singleton started out as a do-it-all leader for Edmondson. Now, he and his teammates are working -- and winning -- together.

February 12, 1997|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

There was a time earlier in the season that Virgil Singleton wanted to do everything for the Edmondson basketball team. He would have driven the bus for away games if necessary.

Being the only experienced returnee for the Redskins, a lot was expected from the 6-foot senior guard, but his coaches didn't want to him to do too much.

Singleton has learned to be more relaxed. And now it's his opponents who are left feeling uncomfortable.

"He leads in a positive way and encourages the other guys," said Edmondson coach James James. "You would think that he would have the big head, but that's not Virgil."

Singleton is the leading scorer in the City League and second overall in the metro area, averaging 27.8 points a game for Edmondson (8-8, 3-2 in West Division).

Singleton has scored in double-figures in each of the 14 games he has played. He had a season-high 40 against Poly last Tuesday -- a 72-69 triumph. His 390 total points account for nearly 39 percent of the Redskins' offense.

"He has developed into one of the better players in the city," said Walbrook coach Gus Herrington. "He has made a lot of progress and can hurt you in a variety of ways."

Pick a defense. Double-team. Triple-team. Box-in-one. Zone. Singleton has seen every one this season and still has been able to score either from the perimeter or by slashing to the basket. But he has also created scoring opportunities for teammates such as senior Gary Sneed (14.8 ppg).

"I just see myself as a regular player, working harder and harder every day," said Singleton, a honorable mention All-City/County pick last season. "The more attention defenses give me, the more chances the rest of the team will get."

But Singleton, who also leads the team in assists (4.9) and rebounds (8.3), felt compelled early on to single-handedly do everything for Edmondson, leading to some dissension among his teammates.

Since a 2-6 start, Edmondson has won six of its past eight games, including a 69-68 win over Northwestern last Friday to reach the .500 mark. Though Singleton has averaged 28.3 points during the run, the Redskins are now a more cohesive unit.

"There was a period earlier in the season that Virgil was sick and missed a couple games, and we realized it was hard to win without him," said Sneed, who scored a season-high 31 points against Northwestern. "When he came back, we had better chemistry and played better team ball. Virgil makes the players around him better."

Singleton, a third-year varsity performer, spent his freshman season at Woodlawn, then moved to the Edmondson school district. On the court, he was erratic at times, attempting to dribble through double- and triple-teams. This season, he is playing with more maturity and patience.

"The way he approaches the game is the biggest difference in Virgil," said James, in his 11th season as coach. "He kind of lets the flow of the game come to him instead of trying to do too much."

While Singleton has put up impressive numbers, few colleges have noticed. Coppin State, UMBC, Hampton, North Carolina A&T have shown interest in him. But Singleton isn't concerned, because he's confident of a positive future.

"I look at it as another challenge," said Singleton. "I just have to go out there, work even harder to better myself. If I keep trying, God has something in store for me."

Pub Date: 2/12/97

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