Wheeling Jesuit’s Highsmith Signs With Agent

  Shawn Rine, Sports Writer, Wheeling Intelligencer
  Wednesday, April 4, 2018 8:14 AM
  WJU News, Athletics

Wheeling, WV

This story is reprinted with permission from The Intelligencer

WHEELING — Haywood Highsmith has no way of knowing at this point where he will be playing basketball next year. But it will be somewhere on the professional level after he signed with agent Jerry Dianis at a ceremony Tuesday inside Wheeling Jesuit University’s Alma Grace McDonough Center.

highsmith-1100x825.jpg PHOTO CAPTION: Haywood Highsmith, center signs his contract with agent Jerry Dianis, third from right. Highsmith is flanked by his parents Haywood Highsmith Sr., Brenda Highsmith and Haywood Highsmith’s trainer Warren Doles as Wheeling Jesuit coach Danny Sancomb, standing, looks on.To know where Highsmith, who was named the NCAA Division II National Player of the Year this season, is going, one must first understand where he’s been.

"This is just Part I,” a proud Highsmith said. ”I didn’t even know if I was going to go to college, so I have to thank Coach (Danny) Sancomb for taking a chance on me. He honestly became like a second dad to me.”

”School started here on Aug. 31 and it was already in August and I didn’t have a school,” Highsmith recalled. ”Coach Sancomb offered me a partial scholarship — I eventually got a full one — and I said ‘I’ll take it.’

”It was a little bit of an adjustment because I am from big city Baltimore. I called my Mom and said ‘what am I doing in these mountains?’ ”

The answer to that only half-serious question, turned out to be an easy one. Highsmith was spreading his wings both literally and figuratively.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward led the country in double-doubles this season, averaging 21.9 points and 12.5 rebounds per game en route to being named the Mountain East Conference Player of the Year.

Highsmith followed that up by leading the Cardinals to their first conference tournament title, picking up Most Valuable Player honors along the way.

”When we brought him in I knew he was going to be good, but I thought about redshirting him as a freshman,” Sancomb said. ”But once I saw him here with our guys I knew he had to play and he was going to be an important part of our team right away.

”You hear guys telling people all the time how good they are, but I never once heard that from Haywood. In my 21 years of coaching, I have never had a player who is more low-maintenance.”

Not brash or full of himself like some other superstars, Highsmith kept his head down and continually worked in the shadows to improve his game.

”My parents raised me right and taught me about respect,” Highsmith said. ”It means a lot to hear people talking about my character because there are plenty of good players who aren’t good people.

”My Dad was my role model.”

The next stop for Highsmith is Portsmouth, Va., for NBA predraft workouts. Dianis said it’s important to remember that you don’t need all 30 teams to like your game, just one.

”He’s well on his way,” Dianis said. ”By all accounts he was worked quite a bit to get his game where it is today.

”He’s going to have a long and successful pro career.

”There have been some highly successful D-II players in the NBA. As far as coming from Division II, that doesn’t really mean anything anymore.”

Haywood is the son of Brenda and Haywood Highsmith Sr.


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