Demery is Top Class!

Arrogance is at times associated with elite basketball players. But Northside Christian’s James Demery, one of top players in the state’s 2014 recruiting class, breaks that mold.

“When I get a letter or get to talk to coaches, it’s a great thing. I’ve just had so many opportunities over the course of my life,” Demery, 17, said. “I just thank God for that. I don’t get big-headed. I have to stay humble.”

Northside coach Byron Dinkins has noticed the junior’s maturity.

“Everything is an honor and blessing to him,” he said. “He doesn’t feel entitiled to anything.”

Instead, Demery uses the attention he’s received from schools like East Carolina, Clemson, N.C. State and Virginia Tech as motivation.

“You always have to keep working to get better,” he said.

Dinkins, a former East Mecklenburg and Charlotte 49ers star, is thankful that Demery transferred to the University City school during the summer.

“He’s a better kid than he is a player,” he said. “And that’s saying a lot because he’s a heck of a player.”

Demery, who averages 17 points and six rebounds a game, leads the 8-0 Knights with his athleticism.

Dinkins said that the 6-foot-5, 189-pound shooting guard runs the floor well and can get to the basket with ease. Demery is also a strong defender, averaging five steals a game for Northside.

The coach added that the quiet Demery also boosts the team with his energy and experience.

“He doesn’t get rattled,” Dinkins said.

Demery first began to attract college attention as a freshman after playing in a Scouts Focus event in Greensboro alongside Denver Nuggets forward Quincy Miller, Baylor’s Deuce Bello and Mercer’s Ike Nwamu.

“Getting a chance to play against those guys, I showcased my talent,” Demery said. “That’s what really put me out there.”

Demery averaged 25 points a game as a freshman to lead Greenville’s Oakwood School to a 7-10 record. With more help last season, he scored 19 points a game for a much improved 21-6 Oakwood team.

After Demery’s mother got a job in Kinston, he decided to leave Oakwood and find somewhere else to play basketball.

While playing for Team Charlotte, former NBA and North Carolina player Jeff McInnis’ AAU program, Demery was introduced to the Northside coaching staff and saw a fit.

Demery said that his transition to Northside was smooth despite having to live nearly a four-hour car drive from his mom.

“It is kinda hard, but she knows what I have to do, that I’m making this move for the both of us,” Demery said.

Dinkins said that Demery made an effort to fit in. He recalls how Demery introduced himself to classmates, teachers and administrators during the school’s retreat at Windy Gap Camp, near Asheville, early in the school year.

“He came in and became part of Northside – the school and everything that comes with it,” Dinkins said.

Demery said that he’s molded well with the Knights, the defending N.C Independent Schools Athletic Association 2A state champions.

“We’re very competitive in practice,” he said. “We’ve been working hard.”

On the court, Demery had help from Austin Dasent and Keyshawn Woods, who are averaging 11 points apiece. Army commit Luke Morrison, Jeremy Ritter and Phillip Reed, who is averaging about 10 points and 13 rebounds a game, are also key contributors.

“The guys are playing hard and giving a great effort, doing what they’re supposed to do in the classroom as well as on the floor,” Dinkins said.

Northside will be tested in this week’s Upward Classic, which will be held at Gaston Day School and features Patrick School (N.J.), Kennedy Charter, Berry and Vance, among others. Northside opens the tournament against Oldsmar Christian (Fla.) and former Salisbury forward Tony Nunn on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Dinkins is excited about the competition Northside will face in the tournament.

“We’ll get to see where we stand,” he said. “It should be a measuring stick to carry us on through the season.”

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