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Lawrence Parsons didn’t have the greatest introduction to high school basketball. The conclusion to his time at Galax couldn’t be much better.
Three years after being cut from the JV team, Parsons was named the Virginia High School Coaches’ Association Group A player of the year last week after leading the Maroon Tide to its second straight Division 1 state championship.
Fortunately for Galax coach Verl Brown, Parsons wasn’t deterred by his inauspicious start. He returned for his 10th-grade year, made in impact with the JVs and moved up to the varsity in the postseason, even getting some quality minutes in the Maroon Tide’s state quarterfinal loss to Castlewood that year.
“We saw right then that we might have something,” said Brown, who joined his big center atop Virginia’s honors list by being named the state coach of the year for the second straight year.
“He’s only been playing three years,” said Brown. “I know, I cut him. We laughed about it last year and now he’s helped us win two state championships. He’s not like the other guys who have played four or five years. He got a late start.”
Rejected as a freshman, Parsons has been rejecting everybody else ever since. There is no mention in the Virginia High School League record book of an official state record for blocked shots, but Parsons’ 125 this year alone would be a pretty good career for most. He set a new state tournament record for blocks a year ago – breaking the standard set by the legendary Moses Malone in the early 70s – then broke his own record this year with 10 in the semifinals and another nine in the title game, missing by one rejection having a triple-double in both games.
But Parsons was so much more than a human flyswatter, especially this year. Awkwardly effective as a junior, the 6-foot-6 senior with the 7-foot wingspan was killer on the offensive end as a senior, scoring with either hand down low, even comfortably letting fly with a surprisingly smooth jumpshot from 15 to 17 feet away from time to time.
“What we were the most proud of was that the other coaches were unanimous picking him as player of the year, seeing how important he was to our team and seeing how he had grown from one year to the next,” Brown said. “That’s all they talked about, how much a force he was.”
Parsons averaged a double-double of 13.5 points and 10.8 rebounds, plus about five blocks per game, shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor.
“Offensively, not only could he play with his back to the rim, but he started facing the rim,” said Brown. “He hit some mid-range jumpshots, he took some people off the dribble, he became an offensive threat.”
Parsons is exploring his options for playing in college, including a look at Fork Union Military Academy. He’ll participate in the VHSCA east-west all-star game this summer, with Brown coaching the West team. In his 33rd year coaching numerous sports at Galax, Brown is nearing 300 wins after his 15th year leading the varsity boys’ program.
“I just give God the glory,” he said. “I attribute it to good players, good coaches and good people around me. But first I give God the glory.”
2011-12 all-Group A
boys’ basketball team
Melvin Gregory, sr., Lancaster; Lawrence Parsons, sr., Galax; Trey Edmunds, sr., Dan River; Austen Arnold, sr., Gate City; Jared Finch, sr., Twin Springs; Tyler Cooper, sr., Hurley; Zack Stinnett, sr., Parry McCluer.
Division 1 player of the year
Lawrence Parsons, Galax
Division 2 player of the year
Melvin Gregory, Lancaster
Division 1 coach of the year
Verl Brown, Galax
Division 2 coach of the year
Wayne Rasnick, Virginia High
Reggie Diggs, sr., Surry; Noel Obusan, sr., George Mason; John Bennett, sr., James River; Dante Bournes, sr., Amelia County; Dustin Waynick, sr., Hurley.
Troy Washington, King and Queen; Thomas Brown, Nandua; Ryheem Lockley, Middlesex; Monty Dickson, Luray; Travis Warren, Madison County; Caleb Tanner, Floyd County; Karlyn East, Glenvar; Tyler Vernon, Union.