But not for Handley’s Trae Dunson.
The Handley junior made the transition from reserve to starter and from shooting guard to point guard this past season. He led the Tigers to a 23-5 record and an appearance in the Central Regional tournament where they lost by five to top-ranked and eventual Class 3A state champion Greensboro.
“It was a big transition for him,” sixth-year Handley coach Cliff Drummond said. “He had to get everyone else involved before he decided to score. But be bought into the system, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He made the sacrifice and it paid off for the team.”
Dunson, who still the led the Tigers in scoring with 15 points a game, is The Star’s 2012 Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“I work hard on my handles. I take that seriously.” said Dunson, who also averaged nearly three rebounds, nearly three assists and two steals a game. “I’ll play wherever my coach puts me. I try to be the best at any position. So, I knew I’d be successful.”
The All-Area team also includes Talladega’s Jacob Twymon, Randolph County’s Dontae Barrett, Ragland’s KiJana Lindsay and Lineville’s Demetrius Lindsey.
Ragland’s Andy Eden is The Star’s Area Coach of the Year.
Drummond said he spoke with Dunson prior to the start of the season about making the position switch. He knew there’d be growing pains, but he never doubted the 5-foot-10, 135-pounder could handle it.
“If he could make the sacrifice of not even starting the year before, I knew he could make the sacrifice of playing point guard,” Drummond said.
“If he gets the opportunity to play somewhere after high school, that’s the position he’s going to have to play because of his size.”
As a sophomore, Dunson played the role of the hired gun. Whenever he was inserted into the lineup, he had one responsibility — get buckets. It was a role made easy to play alongside former point guard Courtland Gates, who knew how to get Dunson the ball where he was most effective.
“Coming off the bench, nobody really new about me,” Dunson said.
“They probably thought since I wasn’t a starter that I wasn’t any good. I just made the adjustment. I’m going to play well no matter whether I come off the bench or start.”
The Tigers held the lead for most of the game in their regional semifinals matchup against Greensboro at Alabama State’s Acadome until the final three minutes.
It’s a loss Dunson thinks about often. He said he knows no defeat is ever any one person’s fault. But he still recounts the four turnovers versus just two assists he had in that game. And he can’t help but imagine what could’ve been had they been on the other end of the 61-56 defeat.
“It hurts,” he admitted.
The hope of what could happen during his senior season when Handley moves back up to Class 4A will motivate him during the offseason.
“Most of our team is coming back because most of us are juniors,” he said. “I think we can beat anybody.”
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. Reach him at 256-235-3575. On Twitter: birds_word.