Male Athlete of the Week: Swain bringing versatility on the court for Hawks
FRONT ROYAL – As big men go, Skyline High School senior Antwan Swain is pretty versatile on the basketball court.
So says Hawks first-year coach Jeff Monroe, who on Monday after practice heaped plenty of praise on Swain’s ability to be both an inside post presence and an effective shooter and attacker on the wing for Skyline this season.
“He can step out and knock down the three but he also can go inside and take the ball to the hole, too,” Monroe said. “That’s what I’ve been as much impressed with as his strength and being able to finish shots inside and stuff. I knew he can handle it around the rim but his outside shooting has surprised me a lot more this year.”
Last week, Swain showed how dynamic a scorer he can be for Skyline – in a trio of games, he averaged 17 points per contest. For his efforts, Swain has been named The Northern Virginia Daily’s Male Athlete of the Week for Jan. 10-16.
Swain’s week began with a 25-point effort in Skyline’s overtime loss to Sherando last Tuesday, a performance he said was his best individual scoring output of his high school career. Monroe credited Swain’s success against the Warriors to his ability to draw opposing post defenders out of the paint, forcing them to guard him on the perimeter.
“That opens up a lot for us because we can bring him out on the wing and that means if teams, especially teams that are taller than us, they have to bring somebody out there that’s tall trying to guard him out there and he can put it on the floor and take it to the hole,” Monroe said. “For instance like against Sherando, they couldn’t guard him out there on the wing because they had to bring a big guy out there on him, and he was very strong taking it to the hole against them.”
Swain added 9 points and seven rebounds in a loss to Millbrook last Thursday before capping his week with a double-double in a 17-point, 10-rebound performance in a 46-36 overtime victory over Conference 28 foe William Monroe on Saturday.
Swain, who was the second leading scorer for the Hawks (6-8) through the first 12 games at 11.8 points per contest, insists his top priority isn’t to score points. It’s doing what he calls the “dirty work.”
“I think the team definitely looks up to me to play defense, get the rebounds and stuff,” said Swain, the team’s leading rebounder (6.1 per game) before Skyline’s last two games. “So I try to do my best and if I can I’ll score when I need to, but it’s mostly just play defense and stop my man.”
Standing at 6-foot-3 and listed at 210 pounds on Skyline’s preseason football roster back in August, Swain wasn’t always built to take on the physicality often required of forwards on the basketball court.
“My freshman year I was soft and slow,” said Swain, who was a late-season call-up to the varsity basketball team as a freshman. “I was not strong at all, but then I started playing football, getting in the weight room more and I think I’ve become a lot more physical as a player.”
Swain dropped football his junior year but regretted the decision, admitting he “definitely missed it” last year. He returned to the gridiron for the Hawks this past fall, grabbing a starting spot as a defensive lineman and tight end while conditioning and strengthening himself for his final season of high school basketball.
Even with his added bulk, Swain would need help in the post if he was going to avoid becoming the focus on opposing teams’ interior defense. He’s gotten that help with the emergence of 6-foot-4 junior Max Meador.
“I’m really impressed by how Max is playing,” Swain said of Meador, who averaged six rebounds per game through Skyline’s first 12 contests. “Max is a great player and he works really hard. He helps me out a lot.”
Monroe said Meador’s presence in the paint has allowed Swain to use and capitalize on his ability to play anywhere on the court.
“Max has really put up some big numbers here lately and it has helped (Swain) out a lot where he can go out on the wing a little more,” Monroe said.
Monroe called Swain a good leader among a group of seven seniors who are looking to help finish the regular season on a strong note after snapping a four-game slide with Saturday’s conference win.
“I think all those seniors at times have really stepped up,” Monroe said. “The biggest thing is with the coaching change and stuff; they had to get used to me and I had to get used to them. It’s been a slow process but I think it’s getting better. The biggest thing is our guys just gotta continue to work hard. … I just think with that process, hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be hitting on all cylinders by then.”
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org