May 15, 2009
MABEN -- West Oktibbeha High School boys basketball coach Joseph Landfair said a strong work ethic turned Deon Bedford into one of the better players in this area.
East Mississippi men''s coach Mark White hopes to get more of that from Bedford in the future.
Landfair talked about the past, while White looked ahead Thursday as Bedford signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at EMCC.
Bedford feels blessed to be able to sign and is looking forward to getting back on the court.
He knows White will try to get the best effort out of him.
"My game will improve and get better and better," Bedford said. "That''s why I stay on myself about getting my game better. If you want to be great, you have to put work in."
Bedford averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds as a senior for the Timberwolves, the Class A-Division 4 regular-season champions.
Landfair said Bedford, who was a captain for the past three seasons, was "a coach on the court" and handled many responsibilities.
"He''s a kid every coach would like to have," Landfair said.
White identified Bedford as a player of interest early in the recruiting process, but didn''t get a chance to watch him like he wanted.
After attending a practice at West Oktibbeha High, White wanted to see Bedford play in a game against West Lowndes. That game was canceled due to poor weather.
White got another chance to evaluate Bedford a couple of weeks ago on an on-campus visit.
"He showed a lot of ability and potential to be a really good player," White said. "He says he wants to work hard and I believe he does. People can''t imagine how hard we work once we get them there."
White said his program is always looking for players with "upside" and believes Bedford fits that description.
After excelling with the Timberwolves, White is anxious to see if he can take that up a notch with the Lions.
"During the season, we continued to hear great things about Deon," White said. "He''s about to reach another level of competition, but that''s the same for all kids."
Bedford credits the discipline he developed at West Oktibbeha High for helping him take the next step.
Landfair believes EMCC got one of the steals of the area and said Bedford can be a special player if he continues to give the necessary effort.
"He is what I call a sleeper," Landfair said. "He''s one somebody missed because they didn''t show up. The ability is there and his potential is great, but it''s going to be left up to him. He''s going to have to bite the bullet and stay with it. Anytime you want to be good at anything you have to do it over and over."
2. Howland likes MSU's non-conference schedule COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Walters column: Prep football season coming closer LOCAL COLUMNS