Coach sees growth in future Cyclone Sledge

By Chris Williams, Publisher

When Half Hollow Hills West (Dix Hills, N.Y.) point guard Tavon Sledge signed with Iowa State back in November, Fred Hoiberg and his staff stumbled upon a “diamond in the rough.”

That’s according to Sledge’s high school coach Bill Mitaritonna, who has witnessed remarkable growth from his point guard on and off the court over the last year.

Through his first two games of 2011, Sledge has scored 25 and 15 points, while averaging eight assists per contest. Sledge will be in action tonight when Half Hollow Hills West hosts Huntington.

“He already has five 3-pointers in two games,” Mitaritonna said. “Teams are seeing if he can shoot. If teams want to come out and guard him, he’ll go right by them.”

“He’s the fastest person I have ever seen play basketball. He can use that ability to go by people, but now he has a jump shot. How are you going to guard him? It is almost impossible.”

Go ahead and put a check next to “improve jump shot” on your Tavon Sledge scouting report.

Mitaritonna has also seen Sledge’s leadership improve over the last year.

“He has a tremendous will to win,” Mitaritonna said. “He is now our true leader. Last year he was kind of secondary to Tobias Harris (who is now at Tennessee). Now, it is his team. So he goes, we go. He has done a tremendous job of getting everybody on board. He has a leadership quality about him that makes guys want to play with him.”

“He plays the game to win. He plays the game to have a good time with his teammates. He is going to take the Big 12 by storm.”

As a junior at Half Hollow Hills West, Sledge averaged 17.8 points and 10.4 assists per game. The Colts were one game short of winning a state championship last season. Expect Sledge to compete for a championship when March rolls around. Newsday’s preseason rankings tabbed Half Hollow Hills West second when they were released in December.

Sledge chose Iowa State over West Virginia and St. Johns, while holding a handful of other schools as well. will keep you updated on this future Cyclone’s progress all season long.