“This doesn’t happen every day.”
Those words came from Peninsula head coach Lance Von Vogt, after his newest young hardcourt star was left smiling and speechless.
J.T. Terrell, a combo guard and transfer from Wake Forest, signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the University of Southern California’s Trojans on Nov. 9 at Peninsula College’s student union building.
The signing was less of a surprise than a formality, as Terrell had indicated months ago he’d be playing Pac-12 basketball in southern California.
Still, for a program basking in the glow of its first NWAACC championship 10 months ago, the signing became something special.
Peninsula College has had its share of Division I basketball players, from Divaldo Mbunga going to Montana State to Ray Munyagi at Idaho State, Bernie Fryer to Brigham Young and finally to Justin Murray, a walk-on at Washington State.
With teammates, Von Vogt, athletic director Rick Ross and assistant coach Adam Wardell nearby, Terrell inked his future with the Trojans to become the fifth Pirate to play for a Division I school.
Terrell said he considered three schools: USC, University of Washington and Memphis.
One of the bigger draws, he said, was that former teammate Ari Stewart is there.
“I did an official visit, met all the coaches, asked how he (Stewart) liked it,” Terrell said.
Terrell, a 6-foot 3-inch shooting guard, played his freshman season at Wake Forest. He was the second-leading scorer and ranked second in assists for the Demon Deacons.
The 19-year-old said he hopes to improve his skills on the other half of the court.
“I want to become a lock-down defender.”
The former North Carolina prep and Wake Forest star is playing 3,000 miles from home.
In September, after being arrested by Winston-Salem police officers and, according to his attorney, being charged with driving while impaired, he withdrew from Wake Forest.
Looking for a place to restart his college experience, Terrell took advice from family and coaches, who found Von Vogt in Port Angeles.
“We reached out to Coach V, Coach V reached back out to us,” Terrell said. “I’m just here trying to get better as a person and a player.”
Said Von Vogt, “We’re excited to have him in our program.”
For a year, anyway, before he heads south to Southern California.
Last week, following the signing, Trojan coaches were touting their newest recruit.
“J.T. is a dynamic scorer that will be able to impact our team offensively next year,” USC head coach Kevin O’Neill said in the university press release.
“He comes in with the experience of playing in the ACC which will allow him to have an immediate impact in the conference,” O’Neill said. “He’s an exceptional athlete that can score in a number of ways. He’s as talented a perimeter player as I’ve coached in college.”
Swannys Roundball Review is touting Terrell as the top junior-college prospect in the county.
According to a Wake Forest University biography, ESPN ranked him as the No. 14 shooting guard nationally as a high school senior and the No. 49th overall prospect.
Terrell, who turns 20 on Nov. 24, has had one scrimmage as a Pirate — and only half of that, actually — but still managed to wow fans with a number of rim-rattling dunks and 29 points.