For Augusta Christian first-year head coach John Harris, the importance of Ashton Grant won’t be found on a stat sheet.
“It’s hard to describe what Ashton means to our team,” Harris said. “He doesn’t start and he’s not our leading scorer, but him being able to embrace his role off the bench is one of the main reasons why we’re (16-5).”
Grant, a senior, started for the Lions as a freshman but has thrived as sixth man this season.
“I was a little let down when I first found out I wasn’t starting,” Grant admitted. “But it didn’t take long to realize I need to forget about the individual stuff and focus on how we can get better as a team. All I care about is winning. That’s it.”
It’s that attitude that Coach Harris has fallen in love with.
“It takes a lot of character and humility for a player to start as a freshman and come off the bench as a senior,” the first-year head coach said. “Not everyone can do what Ashton’s doing. He’s a very unselfish player.”
According to Harris, however, it took time for both himself and Grant to fully adjust to their new roles.
“I was an assistant (at Augusta Christian) the past three seasons, but this is my first year as head coach,” Harris said. “So it took time for Ashton, and the whole team, to get used to my way of coaching. It also took time for me to adjust to them. But since the new year started, Ashton’s really picked up his game on both ends of the floor and that’s been one of the main keys to our success.”
When asked what he values most about Grant’s game, Harris’ answer is simple: defense.
“He’s a straight lock-down defender,” he said. “Since January, he’s averaging more than three steals per game and having his energy off the bench has been huge for us. He never complains or questions anything. To be honest, he’s a coaches dream.”
Grant said he strives to be consistent on the defensive side of the ball.
“When it comes to defense, there’s no reason not to be great every night,” he said. “Offensively, my shot comes and goes. But that shouldn’t be the case with defense. There’s no excuse for my defense to disappear.”
However, even though Harris describes Grant as a ‘true team player,’ the senior has one individual goal he’d like to accomplish before his career ends at Augusta Christian.
“Right now, Coach Harris holds the school record with seven steals in one game,” Grant said. “I know I don’t have much time left but I have to get eight. That would be an amazing record to break.”
In addition to his individual goal, Grant said he has one team goal for 2014.
“We want to be state champions,” the senior said. “As a team, that’s our mission. That’s what we’re working to achieve.”