Stevens

Kinston will hit the road

STAFF WRITEROctober 18, 2009 

Indirectly, Kinston basketball forward Reggie Bullock is giving his teammates one heck of a present.

How about a trip to Hawaii? And later on, why not travel to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.?

And in between the two trips, let's run over to Raleigh, stay in a nice hotel and play some of the best high school teams in the country.

Want to play a game in the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill? Done.

A high school basketball season gets pretty exciting when your team has one of the best players in the country and he has committed to play for the University of North Carolina.

People want to see you play.

The Kinston team, featuring Bullock, has accepted invitations to play in some of the nation's most prestigious high school basketball events. The team is expected to be exceptional, but the invitations probably wouldn't have been extended without him being on the roster.

The 6-foot-6 swingman is ranked among the top dozen prospects in the country by most recruiting analysts.

Coach Wells Gulledge said there would be a lot of travel involved, but the opportunities were too great to refuse.

"How many of these kids would have ever had the chance to go to Hawaii if we had turned this down?" Gulledge said. "We're going to play basketball, but these will the trips of a lifetime to many of these guys."

Gulledge said that while in Hawaii the team plans to visit Pearl Harbor, go to a volcano and spend time exploring the island, as well as play in the Iolani Classic. The 16-team field has seven Hawaiian teams, one from China and eight from the continental United States.

In the first round, the Vikings will play Beijing (China) Tsinghua, which has won the last two Chinese national high school championships. It has four players 6-7 or taller.

"Personally, I'm excited about the chance to see Pearl Harbor," he said. "We're going to talk a lot about the things we are going to see and the significance of them."

The team will leave Dec. 15 and return Dec. 24. Most of their expenses are covered by the Iolani Classic, but the team did some fundraising to help cover the cost of airfare.

The Vikings begin play in the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational after Christmas and play in the TipOff Classic in Springfield, Mass., on Jan. 16.

On Jan. 9, Kinston plays Greensboro Dudley at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill.

Dudley is led by 6-5 University of North Carolina commitment P.J. Hairston.

"That's a game that we put together with Dudley," Gulledge said.

Kinston High is one of the largest 2-A schools in the state with 1,036 students. It is a member of the Eastern Plains Conference, and its road trips and league games are the bulk of its schedule.

"We'll start our season a little later than some teams, but that's good because we're hoping the football team makes a good playoff run," Gulledge said.

As for Bullock, Gulledge said the all-star is working harder than ever.

"He is in here three days a week at 6:30 in the morning to shoot," Gulledge said.

"He is not sleepy-eyed, either. He's ready to go to work. He wants to get better, and he's willing to work to get where he wants to go."

And thanks to him, his teammates are going a lot this season.

tim.stevens@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8910

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