DARLINGTON, S.C. — Deuce Hudson was comfortable in the moment. The Darlington freshman had been comfortable all week.
While holding his MVP plaque from the Turkey Shootout that the Falcons won over Lee Central, Hudson’s composure was as if this was where he was supposed to be.
He sure played like it, scoring the Falcons’ first six points of the championship game’s second half and finishing with 16. Hudson’s second basket of that second half, a layup, was a daunting one as he drove through a congested lane and still managed to get up a shot and score.
And, of course, more points were to come.
This freshman, the son of former Major League Baseball all-star Orlando Hudson, was not going to be intimidated.
From the time Darlington coach Anthony Heilbronn told him he had a chance to be point guard as a freshman, his whole mentality went from youngster to leader.
“It didn’t seem to faze him,” Heilbronn said. “The moment never got too big for him. I mean, his dad is Orlando Hudson. He has grown up around this. He was cool, calm and collected. It was just another game for him.”
In Tuesday’s semifinal, all Hudson did was sink a jumper as time expired to give Darlington the win over West Florence.
“The coaches just told me to play hard and minimize turnovers,” Hudson said. “And (Wednesday), I prepared for it. My teammates helped me get to this moment.”
This Darlington squad is rather young to begin with. In Wednesday’s championship game, the Falcons started Hudson, juniors Daniel Perkins and Tre’Quan Scott, and seniors Javorius Williams and Kyreese Polk.
Since the summer, coaches had been telling Hudson how to approach this season.
“I’ve learned to handle the ball better under pressure,” Hudson said. “(Heilbronn) told me before the season that I had a chance to be a freshman point guard and that defenses would try to try to trap me a lot. So, I’ve just got to protect the ball.”
And like any designated team leader, Hudson did not want to keep the credit to himself.
“I love my teammates,” Hudson said. “They make me look good when I give them the assists and they make the shots.”
But it goes without saying that this past week was important for Hudson’s development.
“It’s been a good, a confidence builder for me,” he said. “It’s about being strong with the ball and shooting when I’m open.
“But I’m very excited about this season’s start.”