By Trey Williams
Those who watched Patrick Good blister the nets at David Crockett High School against talented teams such as Oak Ridge and Providence Day probably aren’t surprised by his hot start at Appalachian State.
Certainly, Mountaineers coach Jim Fox isn’t.
Good, a 6-foot freshman guard, is leading the Mountaineers in scoring (14.7 ppg) three games into his college career.
He scored 21 points last week in a 103-94 loss at Tennessee. Good made 8 of 10 field goal attempts against Rick Barnes’ Volunteers, including 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
Playing in front of a large gathering of family and friends against his home-state school, Good rose to the occasion. Once again, he didn’t fear the moment, and it evoked images of his 44-point, 10-trey performance in a 98-93 loss to Providence Day (a game Fox attended), his game-saving and game-winning plays during last season’s two-game sweep of Oak Ridge and his game-winning, 18-foot buzzer-beater against North Gwinnett in the 2014 Arby’s Classic.
“I think the one thing with Patrick when we watched him play (in high school) was he always made big shots, he always made plays,” Fox said. “So I think the moment at Tennessee where, you know, you’re playing in front of a lot of guys – a lot your people – could’ve been overwhelming, and it wasn’t. And I think that’s a credit to him and the way he’s always played.
“But now when we recruited him that’s kind of what we saw, you know. In the big moments he played really well.”
Good’s heart was pounding during pregame in Thompson-Boling Arena but he was breathing easy by tip-off. His second cousin, Gary Carter, scored 1,199 points for Don DeVoe at Tennessee. Carter played at a high level for the Vols as a freshman, and told Good to expect no less from himself as a rookie.
“Before the season I talked to him,” Good said. “He just mentioned for me to always have a chip on my shoulder and that being a freshman doesn’t mean anything, because I could have just as big an impact as a senior or anybody else on the floor. He always says work hard and focus on the classroom.”
Good hasn’t been oblivious to the surreal settings in Knoxville and at Davidson, where he took a good look at Steph Curry’s college coach, Bob McKillop, during warm-ups.
“I try to take it all in during the national anthem,” Good said. “When you’re lined up across from John Fulkerson, Jordan Bowden, Grant Williams, Coach Barnes or a Coach McKillop it’s kind of like a dream come true. But as soon as the ball’s thrown up in the air you have to forget about all that.”
Saturday’s setting should produce a dreamy fog, too. Appalachian State will play at Duke against another loaded roster assembled by legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“It is a dream come true to be able to say I get to play there against one of the greatest coaches of all time,” Good said.
Good’s college debut came against a heck of a coach, and he tallied seven points, four assists and one steal in 19 minutes in an 86-74 loss at Bob McKillop-coached Davidson. He hit a 3-pointer that gave the Mountaineers a 59-56 lead with 10:39 left in the game.
“We were right there at Davidson,” said Fox, a longtime McKillop assistant who recruited Curry. “I was proud of the way he played against Davidson.”
Good is 15 of 23 from the field (65.2 percent) and 11 of 18 from behind the arc (61.1 percent). His fast start includes leading the Mountaineers in steals and treys, and he’s tied for third with nine defensive rebounds.
“Obviously, he’s gonna be able to score, you know; he’s always gonna be able to score,” Fox said. “Now, what he’s gotta do to become a complete player is make other guys around him better.”
The demanding Fox shut down practice early Monday due to being displeased with the player’s lack of focus. Fox doesn’t apologize for being geared to grind, and said Good responds well to coaching intensity.
“He’s been tremendous,” Fox said. “I think he was kind of shocked a little bit. That’s one thing we said: ‘We’re gonna push you every second you’re here and we’re never gonna be content with anything else.’
“I think what really helps him, basically, is he has a great basketball IQ. I think that helps him a lot, helps him understand that. … He’ll work. He works religiously on his defense.”
Good moved to Boone in June. His summer included a trip to Italy with the team for an exhibition-games tour that he said is paying dividends for a team loaded with freshmen and sophomores.
“Obviously, we got 10 extra practices and then you’re playing against professional guys,” Good said. “So it’s a win-win situation. It was kind of our first impression of each other as a team. To know that we were in an isolated place – we kind of had to look out for each other before we kind of really even knew each other.
“It was a great culture. The people were really nice.”
The young Mountaineers could be dangerous sooner than later. The top four scorers are freshmen or sophomores and the lone senior is a reserve.
Good reels off players such as sophomores Ronshad Shabazz and Tyrell Johnson and freshmen Isaac Johnson and Kelvin Robinson when discussing App’s potentially bright future. Vocal junior forward Griffin Kinney’s made an impression as well with his leadership.
“My roommate Kelvin Robinson is from Little Rock,” Good said. “He’s kind of like I am. He has a chip on his shoulder and obviously he wants to do well. He’s just a lockdown defender and he can score the ball. He has a good basketball IQ. …
“We kind of hold each other accountable on and off the court. I can kind of see him as a best friend while I’m here.”
Good likes the distance from Boone to Johnson City – close enough to get home, but far enough away to be forced to make a new life. The Mountaineers play in Hartford, Connecticut on Wednesday before traveling to Durham, North Carolina to take on Duke. Thanksgiving won’t be spent with family.
“Obviously, we don’t have a Pal’s; I miss that,” Good said. “But mainly I just miss home-cooked meals. There’s a huge difference between home cooking and cafeteria food. And I miss Granny Mary’s lemonade. Mary Anderson makes the best lemonade. …
“I wouldn’t say I’m homesick but I do miss my family and friends. But I know at the end of the day they have their lives to live and I have to live mine. This is the life that I chose and God has given me. I just want to take advantage of the opportunity I have.”