Former UNC player Jeff Denny offers insights on Northwood basketball team and Drake Powell

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – High school basketball in Chatham County is buzzing with anticipation as the season is just around the corner. One player who has been making headlines is Northwood High School’s very own Drake Powell. I had an opportunity to sit and talk with former UNC basketball player Jeff Denny about his perspective on what to expect from Powell and the Northwood basketball team. During the conversation, we dive into Powell’s journey as a basketball player, his strengths and unselfish play, and how he may make a significant impact when he joins the University of North Carolina basketball team.

The Rising Star: Drake Powell

Former UNC basketball player, Jeff Denny, starts by giving a nod to the exceptional talent of Drake Powell. Denny recalls watching Powell’s evolution from his freshman year, noting that while he had raw potential, it was his relentless dedication and hard work that set him apart.

Denny describes Powell as a “special, special player” and one of the best in the country, making his presence a must-see for basketball enthusiasts. He underlines how much Powell’s unselfishness on the court stands out, a rare trait among players with his level of skill.

Northwood’s Prospects for Success

As we delve further into Northwood’s prospects for the upcoming season, Denny acknowledges the team’s athletic prowess and their unselfishness as the two key components that can drive their success. While they may be losing some height this season, the combination of athleticism and teamwork is what might propel them to a very successful season.

2022-23 Northwood team at the 3A State Championship (photo by Gene Galin)

Denny highlights how Drake Powell’s unselfishness extends beyond scoring, emphasizing his willingness to make the extra pass to set up a better scoring opportunity for a teammate. In a world where individual glory often takes precedence, Powell’s team-first attitude shines brightly.

Drake Powell’s Path to UNC

Discussing Drake Powell’s transition to UNC, Denny predicts that his impact will be felt most keenly on the defensive end of the floor. Powell’s exceptional defensive skills, paired with his athleticism, are attributes that can set him apart as a standout ACC player right from the start. Denny is confident in Powell’s ability to adapt to the college game, making a smooth transition to the University of North Carolina.

Powell’s offensive abilities also do not go unnoticed, with Denny pointing out that his ability to shoot well and adapt to different arenas makes him an exciting prospect. Denny and the UNC alumni are thrilled to welcome Powell into the UNC basketball family.

Jeff Denny: Reflecting on His Own Journey

In a reflective moment, Denny shares a bit of his personal experience as a UNC basketball player. He talks about the immense joy of stepping onto the court for the first time as a Tar Heel and the incredible honor of representing the University of North Carolina. Denny emphasizes that the structure and discipline that came with the basketball season helped him perform better academically, a testament to the benefits of participating in extracurricular activities.

Encouraging Versatility and Enjoyment

Denny also addresses the importance of young athletes playing multiple sports. He advocates for children to have the freedom to enjoy various sports, fostering camaraderie and learning vital life skills along the way. Denny reminds parents not to rush their kids into specialization too early, emphasizing that the joy of the game and camaraderie should always be at the forefront.

Denny’s final words serve as a reminder to young athletes and their parents – the love of the game and the invaluable life skills learned through sports should always take precedence over the pursuit of scholarships and fame. The versatile athlete who finds joy in various sports may indeed be the one who reaches the highest heights.