Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Irving guard Keith Frazier so good even North Carolina coach Roy Williams notices
IRVING – Asked about the ability of sophomore guard Keith Frazier, Irving coach Steven Perry rummaged through some file folders and pulled out a letter. It was addressed to Frazier and had a photo of North Carolina coach Roy Williams.
"I’ve been here 11 years," Perry said, "and we’ve never gotten anything from North Carolina."
That shows the talent and potential of Frazier, a 6-4 shooting guard who averages 21.2 points per game. But the super sophomore is quick to point out that he’s not the star of the show at Irving.
That would be point guard J.J. Thompson.
"It’s his team," Frazier said. "We all follow him."
Thompson is a good guy to follow. The 5-11 senior, a District 7-5A first-team selection a year ago, averages 21.9 points per game and has signed with Houston. He’s a consistent outside shooter, one of the team’s best defenders and the unquestioned leader for Irving (17-10, 9-2 in District 6-5A).
"J.J. is the quarterback of our team," Perry said. "Keith, he’s the wingman."
Together, they’re a potent duo, averaging 43 of Irving’s 63 points per game.
Frazier is a silky smooth shooter who averages more than three 3-pointers made per game. He has good size, long arms and is a terrific leaper, but what stands out most is the range on his jumper. He hits consistently from NBA range and has a great touch from anywhere on the court — even with a defender in his face.
"Sometimes Keith will take a shot and people will think, 'That’s a bad shot,'" Perry said, "but it’s not a bad shot for him."
Thompson, who was an all-district receiver before giving up football after his sophomore season, handles the rock and is the rock for Irving. The two-year starter is quiet, but he knows how to get his point across. His academic success and work ethic in practice also provide a good model for his teammates.
That’s especially true for Frazier, who last year was listed as one of the top 50 freshmen in the nation by MaxPreps. Frazier, a 16-year-old who acknowledges that he needs to be come more mature on the court, said Thompson is like a big brother to him.
"Big brother" is passing along a few lessons in his final season at Irving. The main one:
Get better on defense.
"Keith, he’s going to be really, really good," Thompson said. "If he plays defense like he plays offense, he's going to be a McDonald’s All-American."
The whole team needs to play better defense right now, Perry said. Irving had won seven straight games entering this week, but it lost to Irving MacArthur, 66-60, on Tuesday. Irving doesn’t have time to sulk, however, because it faces 6-5A leader Richland (19-3, 10-0) on Friday.
"We’ll see how we bounce back," Perry said.
A lot of Irving’s bounce will depend on Thompson and Frazier. There’s little mystery about which Irving players Richland will need to stop, or at least slow down.
"They know they can’t do it alone," Perry said of his star guards. "But as those two go, that’s how we go."