Keenan senior point guard Marcus Stroman is not playing around anymore.
With the urgency of his final high school postseason upon him, the Gamecock signee checks his normal jovial temperament at the door.
“It’s been a fun season, but I’ve had to take the lead. And with it being my senior season, this is my last chance, and I can’t play around,” said Stroman, who leads the Raiders with 16 points and seven assists per game.
Stroman was all fun and jokes when he first joined the Raiders’ varsity squad as an eighth grader, but as the years have passed, basketball has become more serious.
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“He’s still that jokester and prankster, but he doesn’t bring it into the gym anymore,” coach Zach Norris said.
Stroman said his signing with South Carolina in November helped to focus him.
“It added a little pressure, because then every time you play, you have to show why you got that scholarship,” Stroman said. “That’s motivation to me. I have to show why I’m going to South Carolina.”
Norris said Stroman has gotten more support at the Raiders’ home gym since the signing.
“He has faced some scrutiny, though,” Norris said. “You hear some of the ‘overrated’ chants in other gyms, but I think a lot of that is opponents trying to get in his head.
“Stroman has taken on a lot of responsibility, and he’s done well with it,” Norris said.
He said Stroman, chief among the Raiders’ three seniors, has taken ownership of the team and been an example for his young teammates.
“We, as coaches, really don’t even to have worry about (a lot) because he gets on them so hard,” he said. “When they come through the doors, it’s all business with him.”
Stroman said he tries to get teammates to have game-level intensity during practice, and he has worked to be more vocal with encouragement and instruction.
“In the last three or four games, he’s really stepped his game up,” Norris said.
In a recent game at Fairfield Central, Stroman lifted the Raiders with 36 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.
What drives Stroman most, the five-year letterman said, is his love for his coaches and teammates and his desire to help win another Class 2A championship before he moves on to the next level.
And for Stroman, reaching the state finals at Colonial Life Arena for the first time since his freshman season would have special significance.
“Oh, it would be great,” he said, “to end my high school career where I will start my college career.”