Dickinson’s Burgess becomes Rams’ go-to guy
Sharpshooting guard emerges as top scorer
When Chaquan Scott graduated last June from Dickinson High School, it left a gaping hole on the Rams’ boys’ basketball team.
After all, Scott was a sure-fire scorer for the Rams a year ago, averaging more than 20 points per game, earning Hudson Reporter Second Team All-Area honors.
It meant that returning player Brent Burgess had to step up and become more of a leader this season.
“When Chaquan graduated, I was the only returning starter,” said senior guard Burgess, who averaged 14 points per game last year as the off-guard to Scott at point guard. “I knew that there would be more of a responsibility on me. But I liked that responsibility.”
“Last year, Scott and Burgess formed a solid 1-2 punch for us,” said Dickinson head coach Sean Drennan. “We knew that Brent was more of a shooting guard and had a shooter’s mentality. But we needed him to play the point. He had to step up and be our leader at the point.”
It’s never easy to simply assume that a scorer could move over and be the floor general.
“Brent is one of the better shooters around,” Drennan said. “But he had to be able to create off the dribble, get others involved. It gets hard when he has to create and score. A lot of it falls on his shoulders.”
But Drennan had faith.
“I knew that if Brent wants to play on the next level, he had to play the point,” Drennan said. “So this was going to be a good step for him. Sure, he’s basically a two-guard with the shooter’s approach. But I thought he could handle it. He could handle the ball, create a chance, then get it back and knock down the shot. He could do a lot of things. I was going to let him go and do his thing.”
“I knew I couldn’t be the wing man anymore,” Burgess said. “I had to be a point guard and I took the opportunity.”
Burgess said that he watched how other point guards played the game, people like former New Jersey Nets All-Star Jason Kidd, to get an idea of how he should improve his game.
“I learned a lot from watching others,” Burgess said. “I had to switch up my game a little. It was hard at first to become a pass-first guard and I’m kind of a scorer. But my teammates helped me. They know that if I don’t score, then it’s hard for us to win. They have faith in me.”
Burgess has developed nicely as a scoring point guard and lately, he’s done nothing but help the Rams win basketball games.
The Rams have won five of their last six games and Burgess has been very instrumental in all of those contests. He guided the Rams to wins over Union City and St. Mary’s over the last week, as well as a one-point loss to Memorial, averaging 25 points per game over the three, including 32 points in the win over Union City.
And for his efforts, Burgess has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Burgess has made a huge climb in his scoring this season, averaging 22 points per game over the Rams’ first eight games, with the Rams winning six of them. He’s also averaged six assists per contest, which shows he is also finding his teammates in scoring situations.
“I’m getting more comfortable with playing point guard,” said Burgess, who is being looked at by several local colleges. “My teammates have always been a help.”
Burgess learned to play basketball in sixth grade while attending P.S. 23 in Jersey City’s Marion section. He started to realize he had a future in the game when he was in eighth grade, right around the time he was introduced to Drennan.
“Coach Drennan has been a big help to me,” Burgess said. “I always thought that I was too small to play basketball, but when I played in the courtyards, I felt I could score. I always could put the ball in the hoop. It was proof I could play.”
“I thought that if we were going to be good this year, we needed about 18 or 19 a game from Brent,” Drennan said. “I hoped he would do well, but he’s doing a little better than expected. His floor leadership has developed. It was definitely a tough position for him to simply become a point guard, but he’s doing it. He’s also become a step quicker this year. There are times that he puts the ball on the floor, goes by people and I say, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’” That has really helped him.
Added Drennan, “He worked very hard all summer. It’s a credit to him and a credit to his teammates. We needed him to score more, but he’s also been very unselfish, getting his teammates involved. It’s been nice to watch.”
Burgess is enjoying the notoriety that comes with being the top scorer on one of Hudson County’s better teams.
“It feels good to be recognized,” Burgess said. “I knew that I could do it. My teammates encouraged me. I wanted to be a good point guard. I think I was ready for it.”
Sure looks that way. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.