Former Lansdowne star Brent Arrington goes DI
With just a handful of Division II and III offers coming out of high school, Lansdowne's Brent Arrington knew he would need a year of prep school to make it to the top level of college basketball.
Thanks to a connection through Cecil Kirk coach Anthony Lewis, Arrington ended up at Southern Sports Academy in Jackson, Miss., more than 1,000 miles away from home.
“At first I was like, ‘Dang, [we] can’t find a school close to home at all?’” Arrington recalled.
Arrington, a 6-foot-3, 176-pound combo guard, eventually got used to the more relaxed pace in the Magnolia State -- so much so that he decided to spend another four years there. Late last month, Arrington signed a letter of intent to play for Mississippi Valley State – a Division I school that plays in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
“I’m just real excited,” Arrington said Thursday. “I’m just ready to go down there and do what I’ve got to do. … Mississippi is far away – a whole different world to me down there. But I got there and it’s cool. It’s very slow, different from Baltimore. It’s just a different experience. There’s not a lot going on down there, [so] it’s easy to focus on basketball and school and everything.”
At Lansdowne, Arrington was a versatile scorer who led the Vikings to a region championship in 2009 and another state playoff appearance in 2010. For his varsity career, Arrington averaged 18.6 points, four assists and 2.9 steals.
With Cecil Kirk in the summer, Arrington was an under-the-radar facilitator on a team filled with future Division I players.
“He was a tremendous asset to the team,” Lewis said. “He was on the team with Cleveland Melvin, Montray Clemons, Antonio Barton, Antoine Myers, Durand Johnson. It was a very, very good team. When you’re talking about kids going to Memphis (Barton), Pittsburgh (Johnson) and DePaul (Melvin and Clemons), it’s very easy to be overlooked. But he was a very integral part of that team.”
At Southern Sports Academy, Arrington transitioned from the 2 he played in high school to the 1. Teaming with former Lake Clifton guard and Cecil Kirk teammate Jeff Fields, Arrington excelled throughout his fifth year.
“Me and Jeff, we were cool at Cecil Kirk, but we went down there and got a lot closer,” Arrington said. “Everybody else is from Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, all those states. We were the only East Coast kids down there. We knew each other already, got very tight down there. That helped us on the court also. We stepped up [as] the two leading scorers on the team.”
Arrington, who averaged 17.8 points, 8.2 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 3.1 steals in his prep season, said he received interest over the year from Duquesne, Loyola of Chicago, Middle Tennessee State, Montana State, Southern Mississippi and Western Kentucky. But Mississippi Valley State pursued him the hardest.
“They showed a lot of interest,” Arrington said. “It was in-state and I had been down there for a year. I knew my prep school coach and people around me were able to support me. Even though I’m far away from home, I’ve got my little support system down there. They can shoot right over for a couple games and see me play. I have someone I can call for a home away from home.”
Lewis, who started coaching Arrington when he was 15, said his former player is comfortable at the 1 and the 2. His mental toughness and decision-making have improved dramatically over the past several years.
“He shoots the ball extremely well,” Lewis said. “He can put it on the deck and attack. From a defensive standpoint, he can really push up and disrupt the team. … He’s an athletic kid, he’s a workaholic and he became a better shooter.”
Arrington, who plans to major in accounting, is back in Baltimore for the summer, helping out with Cecil Kirk’s 17-and-under team and working out on his own. He’s looking forward to starting his college career, especially with the Delta Devils’ challenging non-conference schedule, which Arrington said includes matchups with Notre Dame, North Carolina, Memphis and DePaul, among others.
“I’m actually looking forward to ball, really,” he said. “I put in work while I’m here and just working as hard as possible to train [and] get my game to the best I can get it this summer. [I’ll] do my best to get as good as possible before I start.”
Patuxent Publishing photo of Brent Arrington by Matt Roth / Jan. 13, 2010