Taking Control: Bolton assumes leadership role for MMA’s postgrad basketball team

MMA's Rasir Bolton drives to the basket against Fork Union's Quavon Blackwood during second half action Thursday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Massanutten Military Academy postgraduate boys basketball coach Chad Myers first met Rasir Bolton several years ago when the latter was an eighth grader playing for the AAU club Team Loaded. At the time, Myers was unsure if he’d ever get the chance to coach the point guard from Petersburg, but he was determined to have the opportunity.

That chance nearly came ahead of last school year when Myers returned to MMA to restart a postgrad program that soared to new heights during his first two-year stint from 2011-2013 at the Woodstock boarding school. Bolton visited the campus but ultimately chose to go elsewhere, leaving Myers disappointed but knowing that another chance to land Bolton could come back around.

Myers was rewarded for that patience. Bolton, a journeyman who played at three different schools over the previous two years, was searching for somewhere to play his senior season, a program with which he would have plenty of access to a gym and a weight room to prepare himself for his move to Penn State later this year. Given his close relationship with Myers, Bolton knew MMA was that place.

“He’s such a good kid and legitimately knowing him for so long, I was just hoping, for him, the best,” Myers said on Thursday. “And I always loved him as a player and never really had an idea if I would get a chance to coach him. I knew I was gonna try every year to get him. But obviously this year it’s good.”

Good for Bolton, good for Myers and good for MMA. The past five months have affirmed everything Myers thought he knew about Bolton the person and Bolton the basketball player, as the point guard has come to Woodstock and made the Colonels his team.

Statistically, Bolton is averaging a team-high 21 points and five assists per game for a team that is 21-3, was ranked second in the nation in the latest Prep Circuit Postgrad Power 10 and is well on its way to making its fourth National Prep Championship tournament appearance in as many seasons under Myers. But Bolton’s leadership on and off the court might be even more valuable.

Bolton has been the Colonels’ clear leader since players reported in August, Myers said, to the point where his head coach put him in charge of making sure the rest of his teammates complied with the daily responsibilities of the military school lifestyle.

“To me it’s exciting because we’ve got a guy that’s our leader and our point guard. He’s always in good spirits. As a coach, we get down and frustrated and I feel like he picks the guys up sometimes,” Myers said.

“It’s just kind of refreshing to have a guy that’s always upbeat, he’s always trying to get the guys going.”

Becoming the team’s motivator and chief voice on the basketball court was one of Bolton’s primary objectives when he arrived at MMA, right up there with strengthening his game and his body for the college level.

“I feel like I’ve been pretty good, actually. Just being more vocal, louder, being more sure of things like telling guys where to be, picking spots,” said Bolton, whose father, Ray, is an assistant coach with MMA this season. “And then just using my brain, use my basketball IQ on the court to help everybody else out.”

With the ball in his hands, Bolton enjoys being a facilitator on the court, and he said his reputation as a scorer has opened things up for MMA on the perimeter when he’s able to drive and kick it out to an open teammate.

As a scorer, the 6-foot-3 Bolton possesses the ability to hit shots from the perimeter and he isn’t afraid to attack the lane, create contact and get to the free throw line, where he is a 91 percent shooter and hit 27 straight free throws in the previous three games entering this past Saturday’s contest against Mount Zion (Maryland). Of his scoring style Bolton said, “I kind of just find a way.”

A prime example of that, Myers said, was MMA’s win over North Hampton at the National Prep Showcase in Connecticut in November. In that game, the second of a two-day tournament, Myers said Bolton’s shot wasn’t falling but the point guard teamed up with Tyrese Martin to “will” the Colonels to a win and went 10-for-10 at the free throw line.

“Even though he can shoot it he doesn’t settle,” Myers said, “so I think he just kind of takes what the defense gives him. And I think he’s really becoming a great leader. He’s on our guys. He’s learning how to maneuver our guys. He’s pretty unselfish even though he can score at a high rate, getting guys the ball in the right spot. I think he’s just learning how to be a really good point guard.”

With 12 regular season games left over the next month before the National Prep Championship field is announced, Bolton said he wants to continue to become more efficient on offense, a stronger defensive player and an even better leader. And he wants to keep winning.

“I would say guys getting healthy,” Bolton, who got banged up in Thursday’s win over Fork Union and sat out the final four minutes of the game, said of what MMA needs to do to reach its peak come national tournament time, “and then just locking in and focusing. We’re kind of tired now but we’ve gotta fight through it.”