Just a freshman, Gulf center David Frazier is towering over the competition.
By GREG AUMAN
Published February 15, 2004
NEW PORT RICHEY - Since the day he was born, David Frazier has impressed people with his size.
"Ten pounds, two-and-a-half ounces," his mother, Heidi says, anticipating the question out of habit. "He's always been huge. He's been off the charts his whole life."
If they kept charts for freshman basketball players, the 6-foot-7 Gulf center would be well ahead of the curve, in size and on-court success. Despite playing in just his third season of organized basketball, Frazier is leading the county in blocks and is second in shooting percentage. He has quickly established himself as a future star whose game and frame are still growing.
"The kid has a lot of potential," said Ridgewood coach Gary Anders, whose Rams could face Gulf in Wednesday's Class 4A District 10 semifinal. "He's a well-built player in addition to being tall, and he moves around pretty well. He looks like he's going to be a real good one in this county."
Big babies don't always end up dunking as middle-schoolers, and Frazier's towering height has surprised even his mother, who is 5-foot-8, and his father, David Sr., who is 6 foot. The more Frazier grew, the more he got the same question-question-suggestion routine from everyone he met: "How tall are you? ... Do you play basketball? ... Well, you ought to."
"People kept approaching him and asking if he'd ever played," Heidi said. "The more they asked, the more and more interested he got in playing as time went on."
Frazier was quick to recognize he would need more than his height to succeed. High school benches are dotted with impressively tall, impressively skinny kids who stand out on a roster but lack the skills to match their size.
"I was scared I wasn't going to live up to the expectations some people might have," said Frazier, who started playing in seventh grade during a spurt that saw him grow 6 inches in eight months.
In addition to spring and summer leagues, Frazier made a commitment to adding some muscle to his 217-pound frame. He spends his lunch period in the Gulf weight room, bagging the social hour and brown-bagging the meal with the hopes of improving his upper-body strength. Feldman already has seen progress from the lanky player he challenged in the fall.
"He's really dedicated himself with the weights," Feldman said. "He's a stronger player now than he was before. David has really embraced whatever I've thrown at him. The kid wants to be everything he can be, and you have to love that. He's only going to get stronger."
Statistically, Frazier is already strong. His 8.6 scoring average ranks second behind junior Justin Sconiers, and he leads the Bucs with 6.4 rebounds. He's hitting 56 percent of his shots, a mark bested only by Ridgewood's Andrew Reed, also 6-foot-7 but a senior who will play at a Division I college next season.
On Tuesday, Gulf picked up its first win this season against a team with a winning record, led by a strong showing by Frazier against Tampa Prep's Alex Schulte. His totals: 22 points (hitting 10 of 12 shots from the field), eight rebounds and three blocks.
"You get that from any freshman, and my God, you're pretty satisfied to say the least," Feldman said.
Frazier has looked forward to his games against experienced post players such as Reed, taking them as learning opportunities.
"I like seeing how mature players play, and I respect Reed a lot," Frazier said. "I hope to be where he is someday. He's at the point where I want to get up to here."
As excited as Frazier is about his own future, he's more interested in seeing Gulf improve. On a squad that has no seniors, Frazier has embraced his teammates, spending much of his free time hanging out with the rest of the post players. When the flu sidelined him one game in November, Feldman told him not to worry about traveling with the team to Zephyrhills. Frazier, though, asked his mother to drive him across the county so he could support his teammates, staying safely out of coughing range.
"His love of the game is really strong, and he's been a joy to coach," Feldman said.
This week's district tournament could put Frazier and Gulf on the map, but if they can't break through to the county's elite level, the Bucs have everyone back next season. Frazier hopes he has a few more inches to grow, and his coach expects bigger things from his team as well.
"All we are right now is the top of the bottom tier," Feldman said. "But after graduation, I don't think there's going to be a wide chasm between us and anyone else. This district could be wide open."