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Danville native Terrence Townes is scoring 17.8 points per game in Gulf South Conference games for the University of West Florida men's basketball team. (Submitted Photo by www.emmelephotography.com)

Danville native Townes thriving with University of West Florida men's basketball

January 20, 2014  20:45 PM

GoPack.com/Nick Gueguen

Terrence Townes is taking advantage of his chance to play NCAA Division II basketball.

The Danville native, a junior with the University of West Florida men’s basketball team, is second on the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game this season, his first with the Argonauts. He has hit 17 3-pointers and hit 38.6 percent of his treys in 2013-14. He also has hit 21 of 28 free throws and is playing 29.5 minutes a night. He is also averaging 4.6 rebounds per game in 13 games, nine of which he has started.

“When the season first started off, I started off kind of slow,” Townes said. “But as the season kept on going, I just kept on working hard just doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff … it’s just all coming into play. I’m just playing a lot better. I’m just more focused than I’ve ever been.”

Townes, who estimates he shoots 100 shots after the Argos’ practices, has led the Argos in scoring in four games, including 26 points in a 72-69 win over Alabama Huntsville. He had 21 points in an 80-70 loss to Valdosta State and 22 points in an 81-76 loss to Union (Tenn.) and a 77-75 win over North Alabama. He has neared a double-double on multiple occasions.

“He takes coaching extremely well ... ‘Basketball is a classroom, and it’s teaching a form. Even though you’re good at this form, for us to get where we need to go, there’s a purpose and a reason for what we’re doing, and you need to buy into it, and take that teaching,’” West Florida coach Bob Stinnett said. “Well, he’s done that.”

Conference play is crucial on a team’s schedule, and Townes has thrived under the pressure in Gulf South Conference games. He is scoring 17.8 points per game, also second on the team, and is grabbing 5.4 rebounds per contest through eight Gulf South games. He plays 32.5 minutes per night in conference games, and all but seven of his 23 assists have come in conference play. He has hit 18 of 23 free throws, as well as 12 treys, and is shooting 36.4 percent from beyond the arc in Gulf South games. He credits his teammates and coaches for his success.

“Without them, I wouldn’t get the ball,” Townes said. “I give them all the thanks.”

Townes played at George Washington High School his sophomore and junior years of high school, but he later transferred to Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham.

“I wasn’t really focused on becoming a better student and basketball player [at G.W.],” Townes said. “I was more focused on doing the little, immature high-school kid things, but when I transferred to Mount Zion Christian Academy, I took basketball a lot more serious[ly], and my school work.”

Townes said that although he matured at Mount Zion, he still slipped up at times. He looked at playing at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and a Division I school in Texas after his prep career but had academic issues.

“I was supposed to go to a Division I school coming out of my Christian school, but once again, I failed my classes,” Townes said. “I just kept on messing up over and over, and I think I basically got punished for it, but I kind of accepted it and worked toward becoming a better just person all around.”

He went on to Gulf Coast State, a junior college in Panama City, Fla. He scored 11.5 points per game and hit 31 3-pointers in 28 games as a sophomore in 2011-12. He hit 33.3 percent of his 3-point attempts that season. He made an immediate impact a year sooner, pouring in 13.1 points per game in 29 games as a freshman in 2010-11. He was to play Division I basketball at Albany after Gulf Coast State but faced grades problems.

“But I think this is where I’m supposed to be,” Townes said. “Since I’ve been at the University of West Florida, I’m just like, ‘What you’ve got are people here that care about your education,’ and it’s just made me even care a lot more since I’ve been here. Last year, I had a 3.0 grade-point average for the whole year. That was my first time ever in my life having that good of a GPA, and it’s just great to have it.”

Stinnett admires how Townes has grown in his time at West Florida.

“Coming out of junior college and coming into the first year [with the] program, he had tendencies to want to be a little diva,” Stinnett said. “It was just he would lose his focus … he had to figure out that every time you move up a higher level, from high school to JUCO, it’s better, from JUCO to D-II is even better.”

Townes is proud that he’s kept consistent numbers on the court since leaping from junior college basketball to Division II, even after a redshirt season with West Florida last year after he hurt his thumb.

“I basically tried to fix my weak areas,” Townes said. “And I’m happy because at first, when the season first started, I started off slow, and I just kept on praying and asking God to let my hard work just to come into play. As the conference [schedule] started, I just started playing a lot better, and I just give God all the thanks, and my family and everybody that supported me and believed in me.”

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