SN’s Strickland is Bluefield-bound

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The progression of Lamont Strickland to a reliable post player was a big reason his Southern Nash High varsity boys basketball team enjoyed one of its best seasons in decades this past winter.

And Strickland’s rise has led to the realization of his dream of playing college basketball. That came to fruition recently when the 6-foot-5 Strickland signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his career at Bluefield (Virginia) College of the NAIA.

Strickland, a “freak” athlete who started at offensive tackle for the football team and is a jumper for the Firebirds track and field team, said he received recruiting interest in basketball from Wake T ech and in football from Ferrum, Methodist and Randolph Macon. But multiple trips to the small, picturesque campus nestled in the Appalachian Mountains convinced Strickland he should play basketball for the Rams.

“They were really nice to me and they talked about how their system was and how Christian their school was and really just took me in,” he said. “I was really interested in (Bluefield) and went there a couple of times and saw some of their games and it was very cool.”

The son of Shantell and Lamont Strickland Sr. of Bailey said he plans to major in business administration at the four-year, liberal arts college. He said going to a four-year school was right for him.

“I wanted it to look like a family,” he said. “I know you can go somewhere for two years and then transfer for your last two years but I want to go somewhere I know I’m going to be there, I know what they expect of me and they challenge me every day.”

Strickland helped the Firebirds win the 3-A Big East Conference tournament and reach the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs for the first time in head coach Robbie Kennedy’s 14 seasons.

“He won us some games this year just with his size,” Kennedy said. “When he played well, we were really hard to beat.”

It wasn’t always the case with Strickland, who molded himself into a college prospect by working long hours in the gym, despite playing two other sports.

“Development-wise, he came a long, long ways from his freshman year. He worked a lot on his own,” Kennedy said, adding that Strickland’s potential was untapped.

For Strickland, it’s a dream come true.

“I always wanted to play college ball,” he said with a smile.

paul@wilsontimes.com | 265-7808