Midtown: Sports

Purvis named Player of the Year

Like many teenagers, Rodney Purvis wakes up in the morning and checks his Twitter account. With more than 12,000 followers, Purvis can get an idea of how the day is going to go before he enters Upper Room Christian Academy for class.

That was the case Thursday morning when Purvis arose around 7 a.m. to congratulation after congratulation. Purvis, a senior point guard and an N.C. State recruit, was named Gatorade’s North Carolina boys basketball Player of the Year.

And just like many of his friends, Purvis reacted to the news by sending out a tweet.

“Honored to be named N.C. Gatorade POY,” Purvis tweeted. “A huge thank you to my family and friends. Most importantly God for guiding me through the ups and downs.”

Purvis is now a finalist for the National Player of the Year award to be announced later this month.

The award means a lot to Purvis.

Not just because he’s excelled the on the court, but also because Upper Room has grown with him.

The school, founded in 1998, only housed kindergarten through eighth grade at the time Purvis arrived. Each year Purvis went up a grade in high school, Upper Room expanded to accommodate his class.

Avie Lester, coach of the Eagles and the school’s athletic director, said Purvis has been the biggest spokesperson for the school.

“Basically, he’s been the face of the school,” Lester said. “I’m just happy and proud for him. He has been the poster child of what we want our students to be as far as responsible spiritually, socially and academically.”

Purvis, who is 6-foot-4 and 199 pounds, led the Eagles to a 24-16 record and the Greater Carolina High School Athletic Association championship this past season.

In the Eagles’ 85-61 victory over the Quality Education Academy last Saturday, Purvis scored 24 points and was honored as the GCHSAA Most Valuable Player. He averaged 26 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game this season.

“Rodney is very explosive and attacks the basket with so much force,” Quality Education Academy coach Isaac Pitts said. “Yet, he’s always in complete control of his body, and his demeanor on the court never changes regardless of the circumstances. We all know of his greatness as a player, but I believe he’s an even better person.”

Purvis is a McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic selection. He also has maintained a 3.29 GPA after he was diagnosed with a learning disability in eighth grade.

“This school has definitely helped me a lot,” Purvis said. “It’s helped me as a person. It’s been a great four years at my high school.”

Purvis also knows the award couldn’t have come at a better time. On Saturday, Purvis cut down the nets after the championship game. Then on Sunday, he watched this hometown Wolfpack advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

“It really was a great weekend,” Purvis said. “I’m really enjoying my life and everyone in it, especially God.”

Lester said Purvis became a stronger player this season. With speed and quickness already a part of his skills, Purvis said he added 16 pounds. The weight allowed him to score in the paint more and be a better defender.

“He was able to overpower most guards,” Lester said. “People are going to have quickness, but whoever has strength is the person that is really going to separate themselves. He’s really worked on his body.”

Once classes were over Thursday, Purvis continued to thank many of his followers on Twitter.

Just four years ago, many people didn’t know much about Upper Room. Purvis hopes his award and a state championship this season have changed that.

“I’m glad that I was a part of the building process,” he said. “I will be in the first graduating class. I’m really thankful that my name is associated with this school.”