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Worrell growing into Bears’ leader


Sipsey Valley’s Rasheed Worrell (32) blocks a shot by Andrew Robertson of Northside during their game at Sipsey Valley in December. The 6-foot-7 Worrell is averaging 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots per game for the Bears. (Photo by Jason Harless)


BUHL | The Sipsey Valley High School boys basketball team, in its third year, has become a force this season, going 21-5 and earning a ranking in Class 3A — although the Bears dropped out of the rankings this week.

A big reason for the Bears’ success is junior center Rasheed Worrell, a 6-foot-7, 198-pound force. Worrell has averaged 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots per game this season, all team highs.

But Worrell didn’t always have the huge presence that he does for Sipsey Valley. As a freshman, Worrell measured in at 6-2 and 155 pounds. Worrell, even then the tallest player for Sipsey Valley, made his first move to forward, a position he said he wasn’t entirely comfortable with.

"I was always just skinny, a long kid, uncoordinated," Worrell said. "I just laugh when I think about how I was freshman year, how I could never be a post player, ‘I just don’t think it’s me,’ to now."

Part of Worrell’s has been his increase in size, not just his height. Sipsey Valley coach Kevin Austin was one of the driving forces behind putting Worrell in the weight room, constantly advising him to increase his size and strength.

Now, not only has Worrell gotten taller, but he’s vastly improved his strength and inside presence as a result of his training.

"Our nickname for him, early on, was grasshopper," Austin said. "Because that’s basically what he looked like. Thin legs, thin arms. The weight room has really been important for Rasheed."

Still, getting him into the weight room wasn’t easy. His entire freshman year, both Austin and Worrell’s AAU coaches insisted he increase his size and strength. Even once Worrell started lifting, Austin said Worrell wasn’t fully committed until he began to see progress.

"He didn’t embrace the weight room at first," Austin said. "He didn’t understand why we wanted him in there. But now when we go in there, he’s really one of the guys that goes after it."

Worrell’s growth hasn’t just been limited to his size, either. Both he and Austin mentioned better ball-handling skills, athleticism and a more of a commitment to his center position. But the biggest growth Austin mentioned about his star center didn’t concern his size or playing ability; it involved his mentality.

Worrell, who grew up playing guard, said he complained about playing a post position as a freshman, and that he would often get down on himself if he didn’t think he was playing well.

"I had a way of getting myself out of the game," Worrell said. "When things got bad, I kind of psyched myself out."

Once Austin realized the force Worrell could be at the center position, Austin said he knew he had to help him improve his mentality, something Worrell has greatly improved this season.

"He understands that in order for us to be successful," Austin said, "he has to be on the court."