CHARLOTTESVILLE — After nearly two decades at Eastern Hancock, Royals’ head coach Aaron Spaulding can use one hand to count the number of freshman he has started at the varsity level. Kevin Wright and Derek Harmon cracked the starting unit in 1999, as did the program’s leading scorer, Dustin Smith, in 2007.
The fourth player on Spaulding’s tiny list? Eastern Hancock junior Addison True.
True led the Royals in scoring that season (11.6 points per game) and hasn’t stopped since. A basket against Hauser Tuesday night, though, was extra special.
With a fastbreak layup against the Jets, True became just the fifth player in school history to reach 1,000 career points. Currently averaging 17.6 points per game as a 5-foot-10 guard, True also leads Hancock County in rebounding this season at 7.1 boards per game.
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“(Addison) has a very high motor,” Spaulding said, who is in his 18th year at Eastern Hancock. “He is, without question, the best rebounding guard we have ever had.”
However, the explosive junior almost never played for the Royals.
Prior to his freshman campaign, during summer workouts, True transferred from Knightstown to Eastern Hancock. Games with the Royals’ biggest rival located just miles away are even more interesting for now, he said.
Originally projected to split time between the junior varsity and varsity teams, True was thrust into the spotlight sooner than he expected, which proved to be difficult in unfamiliar surroundings.
“When the season rolled around, a couple guys got hurt,” True said. “It gave me a chance to play and get in there. The coaches told me they saw a lot of potential in me. As I started playing, I got used to it and so did everyone else.
“The seniors that year helped me a lot.”
While making the most of an opportunity, True showed undeniable talent. He averaged a team-high 1.3 steals per game and shot a cool 45 percent from the field as a freshman. True also scored a season-high 25 points against Shenandoah and reached double figures in 14 of the team’s 23 games — all as a starter.
After that, with eight seniors lost to graduation, True, without a doubt, became the team’s go-to guy. And he delivered.
As the No. 1 player on opposing team’s scouting reports last year, True poured in 16.1 ppg, while also leading the Royals in rebounds (7.1), assists (3.0) and steals (2.4). He shot 44 percent from the field and made 45 threes.
“It was more difficult, for sure,” True said of the added defensive pressure.
That play earned True a spot in the IBCA Top 100 Underclassmen Showcase last summer, which was an eye-opening experience he said. True was on the same team as highly-touted New Albany junior guard Romeo Langford.
“A lot of the eyes were on (Romeo), so it was cool to be a part of that,” True said. “There was a lot of good competition. It makes you realize what else is out there.”
And as he’s grown more comfortable in a new role, which was altered this season with the addition of junior point guard Brycen Napier (16 ppg), True has made impressive strides in his offensive decision making.
“His freshman and sophomore years, he would either take the three or go all the way to the rim,” Spaulding said. “This year, he has really developed his mid-range game.”
The improvement was evident against Triton Central on Feb. 7. True hit a running bank shot from the left side of the court to beat the final buzzer. His last-second heroics helped the Royals (12-9) earn a road win over the Tigers, 76-75.
Now, with 1,000 points, True sits at No. 25 on Hancock County’s all-time scoring list. He has a chance to challenge Smith’s program record of 1,447 points next season, too, which would place him fourth all-time.
Despite his early success, though, True hasn’t received much interest from college programs, although he expects it to pick up this summer. In the meantime, improving his leadership on the court is a main priority.
“We are all juniors, so it can be hard for us to step up,” True said. “I need to take a bigger role in that. We need a real leader on the team; I think that would help.”
His coach has already taken notice.
“I have really seem him take strides in becoming a better leader,” Spaulding said. “Next year we want him to keep developing. I believe if he makes those improvements, he can develop into a very good small college basketball player.”
Addison True, Eastern Hancock
Stats: 17.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.9 spg, 43 made threes
Season Highs: 26 points against Morristown, 11 rebounds against Waldron and Knightstown, 10 steals against Southwestern
Parents: Dave and Kelly True
Career Achievements: Three-year starter, IBCA Top 100 Underclassmen as sophomore, 25th player in Hancock County history to reach 1,000 points