Preps: Ensworth’s Andrew Fleming one of Nashville’s most versatile players

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 10:32pm

Not only is he the leading scorer in Nashville, Andrew Fleming also might be the city’s most versatile player.

The Ensworth sophomore has played all five positions for the Tigers, who are in pursuit of a third straight Division II state basketball championship.

The 6-foot-5, 180-pound Fleming leads the Tigers (20-6) in scoring at 21.1 points per game. When he plays guard, his quick release makes him very hard to defend. But because he is the team’s tallest player, he’s also had to spend a lot of time playing post.

“In college, I’ll be more projected as a point guard, which is the position I prefer,” he said, just prior to a practice this week. “But when coach [Ricky] Bowers wanted me to play post, I wasn’t sure about that at first, but now I’m buying into it.

“It’s very different down there, you have to learn post up moves, how to get open and also be smart.”

Regardless of what position he plays, he can put the ball in the basket. He’s hitting 46 percent from the field, mostly from long range. He has more than 49 3-pointers, also putting him among Nashville’s leaders.

Fleming got off to a great start this season, with several 30-point games. He scored 49 in December against Gabriel Christian Academy in a stretch where he hit at least 40 three straight games.

At one point early on, he led the state in scoring with more than 30 points per game.

“Andrew loves basketball,” Bowers, whose team hosts McCallie in the sectional round of the playoffs Saturday, said. “He is very skilled with ball, and as a great shooter with the ball. He has really developed his outside shot. He has progressed greatly since he got here as a freshman.

“Because of our lack of size, it has become important for us that he play some at post. He has developed his game at that position as well.”

Fleming began playing AAU ball at age 10. He moved to Middle Tennessee from Jacksonville, Fla., prior to his freshman year and was one of the first players off the bench for the Tigers last season.

“I take about 1,000 shots a day,” he said. “To make yourself a better shooter, you have to spend a lot of time at it.”

Already, Fleming says he has received offers from Florida, Vanderbilt and Auburn. In addition, there is interest from Notre Dame and Butler. He has unofficial visits to Clemson and Miami, Fla. and offers from “about 15 other schools.”

Miami is where his highly regarded teammate and Mr. Basketball finalist Corn Elder recently signed to play both football and basketball. Elder is just behind Fleming in scoring (19.4).

The two combine for about 40 points a game for the Tigers, who average 76 points.

“Playing with Corn is awesome,” Fleming said. “He just goes non-stop and that’s exactly the way I like to play. [Bowers] likes to play fast and up-tempo. And Corn does a good job of getting the ball up the floor and getting the ball to shooters.”

Trying to win a third straight state title is foremost on the minds of Fleming and his teammates.

“We play McCallie, and we’ve beaten them before,” he said. “Other teams still in it we’ve beaten before. So we know how to win. We have to step up and meet the challenge.”

Briefly

• The Ensworth girls (24-1) riding a 24-game winning streak, will host Pope John Paul II at 5 p.m. Friday in a sectional matchup. The Tigers have two of the three Miss Basketball finalists, leading scorer Kennesah Nichols and Justice Sweatt.

• Saturday’s boys Region 5-AA sectional between Christ Presbyterian Academy and White House features some interesting storylines: White House’s coach is Gary Smith, whose 1994 Battle Ground Academy team beat CPA coach Drew Maddux’s Goodpasture team for the state championship. It was Maddux’s final game as a high school player. Also, Maddux has a 199-41 record in his seven years at CPA, and a win Saturday would give him No. 200.

• Coach Adam Sonn’s Goodpasture boys (21-5) won their 20th and 21st games earlier this week en route to the District 9-AA tournament title. Now the Cougars get a tough Region 5-AA opening matchup Saturday at home against Maplewood.

• Franklin Road Academy’s boys (28-3) continue to be among the state leaders in scoring defense at 36.7 points allowed per game. Both FRA teams try for repeat trips to the state tournament with home games – the girls play University School of Jackson 6 p.m. Friday and the boys host First Assembly 4 p.m. Saturday.

• Brentwood’s fourth-place finish in the district tournament forced the Bruins into a tough quarterfinal clash against District 12-AAA tourney champ Hunters Lane. That comes in the opening round of the Region 6-AAA tournament on Friday at Independence High.

BASKETBALL TOURNAMENTS

Region 6-AAA

(at Independence High)

Friday’s games
Girls: 4 p.m.—Franklin vs. Antioch; 7 p.m.—Cane Ridge vs. Hillsboro.
Boys: 5:30 p.m.—Brentwood High vs. Hunters Lane; 8:30 —Hillsboro vs. Cane Ridge.

Saturday’s games
Girls: 4 p.m.—Brentwood High vs. Hunters Lane; 7 p.m.—Overton vs. Independence.
Boys: 5:30 p.m.—Overton vs. Ravenwood; 8:30 p.m.—Independence vs. McGavock.

Monday’s games
Girls semifinals, 6, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday’s games
Boys semifinals, 6, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s game
Girls championship, 7 p.m.

Thursday’s game
Boys championship, 7 p.m.

Region 5-AA
Friday’s games

Girls: 7 p.m.—Goodpasture at CPA; Westmoreland at Lipscomb; M.L. King at Sycamore; Whites Creek at Macon County.

Saturday’s games
Boys: 7 p.m.—White House at CPA; Macon County at East Nashville; Pearl-Cohn at Sycamore; Maplewood at Goodpasture.

Tournament moves to Vol State Monday.

Region 5-A
Friday’s games

6 p.m.—Community at Nashville Christian School, girls; 7:30—Community at Nashville Christian School, boys.

Tournament moves to Eagleville High Monday.

Division II Sectionals
(winners advance to state)

Friday’s games
Class AA

Girls: 5 p.m.—Pope JPII at Ensworth; Harpeth Hall at St. Agnes; 6 p.m.—St. Benedict at Brentwood Academy; 6 p.m.—Father Ryan at Briarcrest.

Class A
Girls: 6 p.m.—University School of Jackson at Franklin Road Academy; 7 p.m.—Ezell-Harding at SBEC; 7 p.m.—University School of Nashville at Harding Academy; 4:30 p.m.—St. George’s at Knoxville Webb.

Saturday’s games
Class AA

Boys: 6 p.m.—McCallie at Ensworth; Christian Brothers at Father Ryan; Baylor at Briarcrest; 7 p.m.—MBA at MUS

Class A
Boys: 4 p.m.—FACS at Franklin Road Academy; DCA at Lausanne; Harding Academy at Knox Webb; Ezell-Harding at Evangelical Christian School.