WOODSTOCK - Central's Dominic Strother improved in a lot of ways from his freshman season to his sophomore season, but perhaps his biggest gain in the last year was his aggressiveness.
Central boys basketball coach Jeff Whittle said that it was nice to see Strother being more aggressive on the floor.
"Obviously, he was more aggressive this year,” Whittle said. “ He led us in scoring and he was attacking off the dribble, he was taking people from the perimeter. And in certain games where we were trying to get the ball inside, he was effective as well. And I think that was his biggest thing this year he was more aggressive. Sometimes maybe it wasn’t even scoring. At times it was him being very heady with his passing too and getting some assists in there."
The 6-foot-6 Strother, The Northern Virginia Daily's 2018-19 Boys Basketball Player of the Year, averaged 16 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
With the loss of several players to graduation and a couple of injuries to post players this season, Whittle said that Strother had a lot of pressure on him to be effective inside the paint - and he was.
"I think he had a little bit of a slow start, but then he came on and did some good things in district play,” Whittle said. “And one of the big reasons why we’ve made the regional playoffs the last three years in a row, maybe four, is because of him. When he's out there on the court his length can affect the game on the defensive end. He rebounds the ball well on both ends."
Strother said that in the offseason he hit the weight room and became much stronger, which helped him this season tremendously.
He said his added strength helped him be able to dunk more effectively. Strother had plenty of dunks, but he said his favorite one happened on Jan. 23 in a 66-55 win over Clarke County.
"Whenever I went up to dunk my shoe fell off my foot and I just thought it was funny,” Strother said. “Everyone was like he jumped out of his shoe. ...Whenever I dunk the energy - it just gets really loud. And I think our team plays good on like a lot of energy”
Strother said he also enjoys blocking shots and the energy it brings to the team as well.
Whittle said he felt like Strother had his best games against Shenandoah County rival Strasburg.
"Those games he was never in foul trouble really and was able to play almost the entire game,” Whittle said. “I know the last game he didn’t play much of the fourth (quarter) because I was trying to save legs for the (regional) tournament games. But those games I think he was peaking at his best on both ends of the floor. He stayed out of foul trouble, playing smart on (defense). And then he was also playing some tremendous basketball on offense."
Strother said his favorite moment of the season came against Madison County on Jan. 18. The Falcons trailed by as many as 18 points in the game but rallied back to win 62-59.
"We came all the way back and beat them,” Strother said. “In the fourth (quarter) we started playing defense really well. And we weren’t letting them score and then we just kept scoring. We just finally beat them."
While he led the area in scoring this season, Whittle said that Strother is an excellent passer and sometimes may be too unselfish on the floor.
Strother said he enjoys passing the ball and getting assists.
"I like doing assists because whenever I’m passing to someone I can just see over everyone,” Strother said. “So I know when someone's open and whenever I see that someone's open, I always give it to them."
While Strother made a lot of improvements from his freshman year to his sophomore year, Whittle said Strother's game has a lot of upside.
Strother will have the opportunity to learn even more this offseason as he plays for a Boo Williams Amateur Athletic Union team, based out of Hampton. Boo Williams' AAU programs are known as one of the top AAU programs in the country.
Strother said his family takes him to practice once a week, on Sundays, to Hampton. Strother said he's enjoyed being on the team so far.
"It’s a lot faster than high school,” Strother said. “It's like up and down, it's up and down, up and down. It’s just constant movement. It’s a lot faster and I just got to get used to that."
Whittle said Strother's game should improve by playing with the AAU team and he believes he can develop into an all-around complete player.
"I think it's going to be good for him to see a lot of kids that may be taller than him, same length, same size,” Whittle said. “Just so he's going against the best of the best every week either at the practices or at the tournaments that they play in. I think he'll get a lot of exposure that way, too, where colleges will be able to see him at some of the biggest tournaments."
Strother said his family has played a big role in his basketball career and he's happy to have their support. He said that he’s always grown up playing basketball with his family.
"Every single year we always watch (NCAA’s) March Madness,” Strother said. “We have this app on our phones and we make this bracket and we see who wins. And it’s all just a competition. We just love basketball in our family."