Coming off a solid sophomore year in which he averaged 10 points and five rebounds a game, North Buncombe wing player Ren Dyer expected to improve on those numbers this season.
But even in his wildest dreams the slender 6-3 forward didn’t believe it would be this good this soon.
While leading the Black Hawks to a 9-1 start and atop the Western Mountain Athletic 3A Conference standings with a 6-0 mark, Dyer has tripled his scoring output and more than doubled his rebounding average.
“Last year we had a go-to guy (David Elkins) and he graduated, and somebody needed to step up,” said Dyer, averaging 31.4 points and 13.4 rebounds a game.
“Coach (first-year coach Chuck Robinson) has put a lot of faith in me and let me take on the role (of leading scorer).
“I kind of thought I would be leading the team this year, but honestly I didn’t think it would be this good,” he said.
“Ren has just gotten a lot better,” said Robinson, who was at Owen before coming back home to coach one mile from his home at the place he graduated from.
“He played a lot this summer and put in the time in the weight room, and he just made himself into a better player.”
Dyer can hurt teams in a variety of ways. He has range on his perimeter shooting (10 3-pointers, at 30 percent), can bury a mid-range jumper, has the quickness and jumping ability to finish at the rim and is getting to the foul line often, averaging nearly 10 free throws a game.
And he enjoying his role as a volume scorer.
“It’s been awesome. I love playing on this team. We are close to each other and have played together a long time, and we’ve bonded very well,” said Dyer.
Though the players are familiar with each other, there have been some adjustments.
Robinson is the program’s third coach in three years, and while the team has had success under each coach (20-5 and 22-5 in its last two years under Joey Bryson, 19-6 last season for David Rutledge), Dyer said the transition to Robinson’ style has been seamless.
“Coach Robinson has made it clear that our goal is to win but to have fun doing it, or there’s no reason to be out here,” said Dyer, who is also averaging 3.5 assists and three steals a game.
“He’s been really good for us and we all like him a lot.”
“We had about five returning players who were pretty good, and that helped the transition,” said Robinson.
“These guys have had to figure out a new system and a new coach, and I’ve tried to not throw too much at them. I’ve tried to run some of the same things they ran last year and that’s made it easier.”
After nine straight wins to open the season, the Black Hawks stumbled last week in an 88-69 loss to Mountain Heritage.
But the strong start to conference play – and Dyer’s great work – has the rest of the WMAC on notice.
“They have a good team and Dyer is a phenomenal player,” said Reynolds coach Ryan Stevens after watching the Black Hawks’ star drop 35 points on the Rockets in a recent win.
“He’s a great player who gives great effort, and his energy drives that team.”
“Ren is just an all-around good player,” said Robinson. “He can shoot from the outside, take it inside and can score off offensive rebounds. So far, he’s just been doing it all for us.”