R.J. Sessions knows what it’s like to be the man.
As a senior at Northside High last season, he averaged 18.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game to lead the Patriots to a berth in the Class AAAAA semifinals and earn the nod as the All-Bi-City boys player of the year.
Now a freshman guard for Columbus State, however, Sessions is gradually learning what it means to be one of many men, a small piece to a much larger puzzle.
“I’ve had to settle down and realize I’m not the man anymore like I was in high school,” Sessions said with a smile on Wednesday. “It takes a lot of patience.”
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Patience as he waits on the bench for his turn to see the floor. In 11 games, he’s averaging 16 minutes per contest, a number that should rise over the coming games as he fills in for injured starters.
Patience as he tries to find open looks and take advantage of his plus shooting ability.
“At Northside, he was the guy,” Cougars coach Robert Moore said of Sessions, who will start his first game when the Cougars host Francis Marion at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Lumpkin Center. “We told him that when we recruited him, that he’s going to be playing with some other good guys that could play. We just wanted him to take his time.”
Sessions performed at a high level in the team’s 81-80 loss at Lander University last week. Coming off the bench, he scored a game-high 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting, 9 of 12 behind the arc. It’s the kind of slick shooting that Moore and his coaching staff knew they could get when they brought Sessions into the fold.
“He ignites our team,” Moore said. “Everyone knows he can score from anywhere on the court. The other night when he hit nine (three-pointers), we didn’t think he was going to miss. We’ve seen that before in practice.”
In the next game, however, an 82-70 loss to USC-Aiken, Sessions was held to seven points and played just 17 minutes in the game. Moore said those ups and downs and a product of being a young player at a higher level.
“Aiken did a good job scouting him after he did so well in the game before, so we need to do a better job of finding ways to get him open,” he said. “And he’s got to do a better job of using his screens, and I think that’s just going to be a learning process for him.”
“There are faster players,” Sessions added. “It’s not like it was in high school where you could recover easily. Everyone can play at a high level.”
Sessions’ workload is sure to increase over the second half of the season for Columbus State. As he becomes more comfortable and coaches become more comfortable with him, those strong performances will likely become more common, even if it isn’t 29 points and nine three-pointers.
Moore like’s his freshman’s potential. He possesses a “basketball body,” and is a guy that can learn to take over games.
“We always knew he could score the basketball,” Moore said, “but if he can continue to do what he’s doing for us now, the sky is the limit with him only being a freshman.”
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