Nichelle Potter, a 14-year old freshman on the Dover High School varsity girls basketball team, has played a key role in helping the Senators to a 10-2 start. The young star has played like a veteran, thanks to the supporting cast of experienced players around her.
Entering this season, the Dover High School girls basketball team knew it would have a major advantage over many of its opposing teams — experience.
The Senators were returning top players in junior Antoinette Robertson and senior Jazmine Miller, as well as bringing in transfer Jasmine Legree.
Needless to say, Dover opened the season counting on its veteran talent to lead the team to the final four in the state tournament.
Those three top players have not disappointed through the first 12 games, as the Sens have gone 10-2 and are currently riding a six game win streak.
All the credit does not fall at the feet of the veterans, however, as a surprise player has emerged this season in freshman Nichelle Potter.
The lone freshman on a team made up of only juniors and seniors, Potter has been impressive as a forward so far this season, putting up big numbers and logging important minutes.
While she said she has been happy with the way she is playing, the 5-foot-10-inch Potter still cannot help but be taken aback at how quickly she’s come along in the varsity game at the young age of 14.
“I thought coming in I was going to be on JV, and then maybe they’d bump me up a little later in the year,” she said. “I’ve taken myself a little bit by surprise.”
But while Potter has been astonishing herself and her teammates, head coach Thornton Spellman said he had an idea of the talent his young star possessed.
“I wouldn’t say she was a surprise because we knew what her potential was,” Spellman said.
He said he first saw how good Potter could be when in the fall she played on an off-season team with some of the Lady Senator returnees.
“When Nichelle played with the varsity up in Wilmington, she showed her potential,” Spellman said. “So we were excited about that and about the fact that she’s only a freshman.”
Even though Potter is the youngest player on the team, she plays like a veteran, and in her first game against rival Caesar Rodney — a tough match-up to be involved in for students any age, Spellman said — she put up 19 points that helped her team to the win.
The coach added it is not just Potter’s talent that has helped her progress so quickly, but also her ability to learn quickly and emulate the experience of the veterans around her.
“She’s surrounded by the nucleus of the team,” Spellman said. “Those types of players are great for the young players to be around.”
Potter said there were really no growing pains with the relationships between her and her new teammates, as they embraced her right away.
“They took me under their wing, made me feel right at home,” she said.
There were, however, some adjustments in going from playing for the Central Middle School team to high-level varsity basketball, Potter said.
“They expect you to know more and do more now, but in eighth grade you’re still in the process of learning,” she said. “It’s been a fun experience playing for [Coach Spellman]. Sometimes it’s hard and I might not get something, but he makes sure you get it eventually.”
With 10 games remaining, Potter would like to keep improving, especially on her defense, and help the team reach the ultimate goal, something her coach reminds the team of constantly.
“He tells us every day that we are a state championship team.”
Email Brian Citino at firstname.lastname@example.org