First Posted: 6/6/2009
Nearly four years ago, Mount Airy basketball coach Kevin Spainhour had a private meeting with a beanpole of a freshman who made the varsity team. Spainhour asked the youngster what his goals were and a fledgling guard named Robbie Rives replied that he wanted to play college basketball.
Fast forward a few years to May 29, to be exact and Rives achieved that goal when he signed with Davidson Community College. In his four years at Mount Airy, Rives and classmate and Queens recruit Andrew Harris (who also had a similar sit-down with Spainhour) are college bound and leave the school as the winningest players in its history with 96 victories.
Obviously we saw something in both of those kids, Spainhour said. We saw something in Robbie to even have him on the varsity team. Definitely not for all kids do I say (playing college basketball is) a realistic goal. For him it was.
Now, Rives moves on to a school that is young, but has already established itself as a winner. Davidson, a Division III junior college that does not offer scholarships, won 25 games in addition to being ranked as high as fourth in the nation last season. The Storm were co-champions of Region 10 the past two years.
Next seasons schedule is not set, but Davidson plans on playing the North Carolina junior varsity squad, a team Davidson coach Matt Ridge was on for two years. Although Rives is a North Carolina State fan, he would not mind playing at the Dean Dome.
Playing for Davidson was bred out of necessity. Rives original intention was to stay local and play for Surry Community College. However, problems arose recently regarding whether or not the Knights would even have a team in 2009-10, so Rives decided to look elsewhere. Spainhour, who played high school basketball against Ridge, recommended Rives to Ridge. After a tryout, Rives received an offer to play at the Lexington-based junior college.
I wasnt sure if they were going to like me or not, Rives said. They offered faster than I expected.
Rives pedigree as a winner, smooth jumper, superb attitude and character made him the right fit for Ridges program.
We were looking for a two guard who could shoot it, Ridge said. Anybody that plays for Kevin Spainhour comes highly recommended. We knew he would be well-coached. Hopefully, he can bring his winning tradition to Davidson Community College.
Ridge and Spainhour have similar coaching philosophies mainly to get up and down the court and score a lot of points.
We felt like he fit our style of play, Ridge said. He seems like an unselfish kid whos willing to work hard for not only his personal goals, but team goals as well.
Both Ridge and Spainhour agreed that Rives maturity will serve him well off the court, where he will not be in a traditional college environment. Players at Davidson usually room together at nearby apartments.
Now that he has a school, the next step is for Rives to work his way into the lineup of such a talented team. Rives lamented that there are facets of his game he must improve. That only makes him work harder.
If I went out there right now, theres no way Id be able to play, Rives said. I definitely need to get stronger and I need to get quicker. Whats good is how they play is they like to get up and down (the court). That was coach Spainhours philosophy. That style of play will not be hard.
In preparation, Rives has been hitting the weight room and practicing agility drills. Plus, he keeps working to maintain that lefty jump shot of his.
Two years from now, Rives is hoping to be in a similar situation. He would like to continue playing basketball, hopefully at a four-year school to use his remaining two years of eligibility.
Im going to see if I can get better and see if other schools want to take me, Rives said. If I can get a Division II school to give me a shot, thats probably what Id do after Davidson.
Rives added he wants to get a degree in physical education and spread his hardwood acumen as a coach. As for leading the Granite Bears sometime in the near future?
I dont plan on going anywhere, Spainhour chuckled. Hell make a very good teacher and coach one day, if thats what he wants to do. I told him one day he can come back and coach, but I dont plan on going anywhere, so he wont be taking my job.
Contact Ed Phillipps at [email protected] or 719-1921.