Academics Plus Coach John Harrison is ecstatic to have senior Paul Sheesley back with the team this year.
A 6-foot-1, 230-pound power forward, Sheesley had to sit out his junior year last season with a broken foot. Without him, Harrison was missing a dominant presence on the inside.
"He has worked so hard in the weight room for two years and is a strong, young man," Harrison said. "When he gets the ball, he either draws a foul or shoots."
Sheesley understands his role for the Falcons and says his best part is getting to the basket or drawing a foul. Last year, Sheesley’s basketball season was cut short after breaking his foot not once but twice.
Before the season started, he broke his fifth metatarsal in a pickup game at the community center. After nine weeks, Sheesley was cleared just in time for a conference matchup against Guy-Perkins. Though Harrison didn’t want to play Sheesley, Paul insisted as did his mother. So, Harrison used him a little in the first half, some the third quarter and most of the fourth period until a broken foot stopped him.
"He was running down and got a rebound," Harrison said. "He just stopped, and I asked if he was O.K. He looked at me and told me he broke his foot in the same spot. It was devastating and hard on the team. He was going to be very, very good, and I believe we would have had a 20-plus win season."
Although Sheesley wasn’t able to play the rest of the season, he still worked out and didn’t let the injury get him down. One thing in his favor was he had another year.
"It was hard to watch because I wanted to get out and play," Sheesley said. "I worked on my upper body strength and knew I had one year to play. I prepared for this year."
Sheesley is averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds a contest. In addition to his presence on the court, Harrison says he also provides comic relief and is the best teammate.
"All the guys look up to him," Harrison said. "He’s quiet and not very vocal but leads by example. He won’t call another player out and is a blue-collar kid."
When the second half of the season gets started in January, Sheesley is hoping his performance gets better. If that happens, it could lead to him obtaining his goals.
"I want to make it to state," he said. "I also want to be the best in the conference so I can make the high school all-star game."