Fadely ready to lead experienced Falcons into new season

Central's Austin Fadely drives against Strasburg's Tyler Fincham during a boys basketball game last season. Fadely returns for his senior season after leading the area in scoring last year. Rich Cooley/Daily file

WOODSTOCK – Austin Fadely’s role on Central High School’s boys basketball team shifted greatly between his sophomore and junior seasons last winter.

His sophomore season two years ago was spent getting acclimated to the pace of the varsity level, serving primarily as a facilitator on offense while taking the occasional shot on an open look from the perimeter. But when the bulk of the Falcons’ leading scorers from that season graduated, Fadely’s job changed. Central needed Fadely to be more of an offensive weapon, and Falcons head coach Brandon Shields told him as much before the start of his junior season last year.

Fadely delivered, averaging 13.5 points per game in 2014-15, leading not only the Falcons in that category, but the entire area.

“I did surprise myself because I didn’t think, just coming from my sophomore year, what I did was just such a big improvement,” Fadely said before Central’s scrimmage against Broadway on Tuesday evening. “I shocked myself. But that was also because, of course, my teammates. They boosted my confidence, helped me get my open shots and hopefully it’s just gonna turn into the same thing this year.”

Fadely, a second team all-Bull Run District and all-Conference 28 selection a season ago, now returns as one of six seniors on the Falcons’ roster this winter. Shields says the 5-foot-10 guard appears to be an even more improved offensive player this season, although he added that Fadely may not be required to shoulder as much of the scoring burden as he did a season ago – not with an experienced group that includes two more returning starters in 6-foot-2 senior Kobi Hoover and 5-foot-11 sophomore Bryan Davis.

“(Opposing teams) won’t be able to kind of gear their defense toward him because I feel like we have more guys who can score the ball this year,” Shields said of Fadely. “And the ball probably won’t be in his hands as much. We’ll be able to do more stuff for him and kind of put him in different spots this year as well.”

That’s the benefit of the addition of junior point guard Ian Pugh, a transfer from county rival Stonewall Jackson.

“This is actually really beneficial because with Pugh it’s another person that can handle the ball, which can help me get open for my shot more, which I’m really looking forward to,” Fadely said. “He just brings a great energy that we needed to this team. It will help us get confidence.”

Shields said Pugh, who averaged 7.2 points, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game for the Generals last season, will likely serve as Central’s primary point guard, freeing up Fadely to move around the floor.

“Having Ian, I told Austin it’s gonna be one of the best things that’s happened to him,” Shields said. “And I told Ian that one of the best things that’s gonna happen to him is having Austin around. It took them a while to figure each other out but I think we’re in a good spot right now as far as those guys sharing the ball. We can outlet to either one of those guys and run the break. Either of them can bring it up the floor. Austin’s more of a scorer. Ian’s more of a distributor. They’re doing a good job playing off each other so far and again I think they both add to each other’s games.”

Last season, Fadely did a lot of his offensive damage darting into the lane, where he could find an open teammate on the perimeter, take a high-percentage shot or draw contact and get to the foul line, where he shot 76.8 percent, the second-best mark in the area.

Shields said the Falcons’ coaching staff has been working on getting Fadely to shoot the more from beyond the 3-point arc, where he connected on 31.7 percent (25 for 79) of his shots of last season.

“I think he shoots it better than most people think he shoots it,” Shields said. “So that’s something we’ve been working on is him getting that shot off a little bit quicker and just pulling the trigger a little bit more out there.”

Fadely, who sharpened his game playing AAU basketball for Your Future Basketball in Front Royal this past summer, said his ability to make a continued impact on offense will be further helped by the perimeter shooting of Hoover (6.6 points per game last season) and senior Jimmy Rodriguez, who will round out the Falcons’ starting five this season according to Shields.

Shields said he expects Hoover – who he referred to as the hardest playing Falcon on the roster right now – to have “a much better year” this season, while he expects more offensive output from Davis (6.1 points, 5.4 rebounds per game last season) in the paint.

“We’ve focused on all knowing our roles and what we’re gonna do to help make this team successful,” Fadely said. “So for most of us it’s hitting the 3-ball, doing some scoring, and others it’s just being an inside presence. But everyone knows their role and we’ve all been training in practices and open gyms, working on our role and what our job is to do.”

Shields said the Falcons will continue to rely plenty on the 3-point shot this season but plans for the Falcons to play a little more “inside-out” this winter, with an added emphasis on getting to the free-throw line more frequently.

Defensively, Shields said Central likely will play more man-to-man defense this season, and Central is working on being more aggressive against opposing offenses to “try and force people into doing things they don’t wanna do a little bit more” after playing a more relaxed style the last couple of years.

Central, which finished last season 10-12, opens its 2015-16 campaign with a home game Wednesday against Bull Run District foe Manassas Park. Shields said this year’s version of the Falcons is the most focused he’s had in his three years as head coach.

“We’re more focused than we’ve ever been so far because we know we have a job and we need to get that job done,” Fadely said. “We are on a mission right now and we’re not gonna stop until we reach our goal.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com