Cantey shining with Bulldogs

Published 10:32 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Former Demopolis High standout and 2008 Alabama A&M signee Casey Cantey has made a name for himself in the SWAC thus far this season.

“When we signed Casey, we thought that he would give us some athletic ability, which he has done,” Bulldog coach Vann Pettaway said of the freshman.

Cantey, who primarily played the post in high school, has taken his 6-foot-5-inch frame to the outside at the Division I level, manning the wing for A&M.

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“That helps me a lot,” Cantey said of his experience playing the post at Demopolis High School. “Coach said that I’m a very versatile player so I can play the post and the wing.”

Pettaway has taken advantage of that versatility thus far in Cantey’s young career, allowing the freshman to develop into an inside-out threat that has him averaging 10.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Cantey introduced himself to the SWAC on Jan. 12 with a 17-point, six-rebound performance against Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Twelve days later, he scored a new career high against Alcorn State in a game in which he finished with 19 points nad seven rebound.

Those numbers have Cantey’s name firmly in the conversation for SWAC Freshman of the Year.

“I’ve really got a good chance to be SWAC Freshman of the Year,” Cantey said. The talk comes as a little bit of a surprise to the Demopolis native, not because he doubts his ability, but rather because he entered the season uncertain of what his role on the team would ultimately be.

But Cantey found out early the value that Pettaway places on hard work.

“I just played hard in practice so the coaches’ said I was going to start a game and I’ve been starting ever since,” Cantey said.

Since his insertion into the starting lineup, Cantey has done his part to solidify Pettaway’s confidence in regards to the decision.

“He’s done some amazing things,” Pettaway said of Cantey.

For Cantey, the transition to the wing did not come without its hiccups.

“It was hard at first,” Cantey said. “But as the season progressed, it just started coming natural.”

“He’s a freshman,” Pettaway said. “He’s still adjusting to the college game. At the small forward spot, he brings quickness. He’s still learning the game. We’re trying to cut down on the turnovers. That comes from trying to do too much, which is normal for a freshman.”

Aside from working to cut down on his turnovers, Cantey has also worked to develop his outside shot in order to become more effective at the small forward position.

“I’ve been improving my jump shot, but it’s not to the point where I need it,” Cantey said. “I’ve just got to continue to work hard and what I’ve got to do.”

Pettaway said the Cantey has also shown an uncanny ability to benefit his team off the court as well.

“His teammates love him,” Pettaway said. “He might be our team comedian.”

As high as he is on Cantey’s current skill set, Pettaway urged that much of the young man’s talents still lie untapped.

“Once he matures, he’s going to be a great college player,” Pettaway said. “When we talk about maturing, we’re talking about maturing on the court as well as off.”