There have been more than a few highly decorated, extremely talented players come in the storied history of the Logan High basketball program, but none of them scored more points for the Wildcats than David Early did.
Now as a freshman at Marshall, Early is starting to settle in to the college game and as a result his production — and playing time — is starting to go up.
In Saturday’s win at Florida International, Early chipped in with a career-high 14 points, three rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes for MU against the Panthers.
The Thundering Herd’s head coach certainly took notice.
“David Early has found the basket,” Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni said after Saturday’s win. “He’s found the basket in practice. Hell, sometimes he beats us by himself, but you get him in a game and you didn’t know where it was. He’s starting to get the rhythm of the game.”
Early, who averaged 27.8 points and 12.1 rebounds per game as a senior at Logan and scored more than 2,200 points in high school — placing him among the state’s all-time best prep scorers, was at his best Saturday at FIU when he connected on 5 of 7 field goal attempts and was a perfect 2 of 2 at both the foul line and from 3-point range.
The Herd freshman had been building to Saturday’s breakout performance since Marshall opened the Conference USA portion of its schedule on Jan. 1. Early played three minutes with zero points that day at Louisiana Tech and followed it with zero points in four minutes in the rematch with the Bulldogs. Then in for pair of games against rival Western Kentucky the freshman scored two points in eight minutes on the roard before hitting for seven points in 16 minutes of playing time — both career-highs at the time — in a home loss to the Hilltoppers.
Marshall’s trip to Miami to take on FIU twice over the weekend started with a dud from Early, who scored zero points in 12 minutes for MU in Friday’s win. Then came Saturday’s career-best performance — one that D’Antoni sees as a building block for Early if he can continue to get his body in the condition the coach wants it.
Early is listed at 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds on Marshall’s athletics website, and on Saturday D’Antoni said Early was down some from that weight and about halfway to the goal weight he’d like to see the freshman play at.
“[Early] has lost 12, 13 pounds, which I think was important especially with his driving, penetrating, getting back, guarding and getting up in the lane — which he did two or three times [against FIU] and they have very quick guards,” D’Antoni said. “I told him he’s got to get to 225, and he’s got 10 or 11 pounds (to lose) to get down to that weight. Then he’ll be at the type of weight where his talent will really shine.”