Video: Roberson at Hendersonville boys basketball scrimmage
Here are video highlights from Roberson and Hendersonville boys basketball’s scrimmage on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Hendersonville senior big man CJ Landrum and junior forward Malachi Simpson make up one of the best boys basketball duos in Western North Carolina.
The Bearcats’ star duo returns for one more season together after going 25-4 during the 2022-23 season and advancing to the third round of the NCHSAA 2A playoffs. Coach Marvin Featherstone is understandably excited about this upcoming season. The team’s expectations are quite high.
Hendersonville wants to win the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference again and wants to advance further in the playoffs. Landrum and Simpson will be crucial in accomplishing those goals.
The 6-foot-6, 175-pound Simpson averaged 20 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.5 steals and a block per game while shooting 55% from the field in 2022-23. Landrum is 6-3 and 225 pounds. He recorded 13 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.6 steals and almost a block per game and shot 47% from the field.
“When you got two solid players like that,” Featherstone said, “it makes you feel good about yourself.”
Featherstone said Landrum and Simpson excel in different ways.
“CJ is not only a good scorer,” Featherstone said. “He rebounds. He takes charges. Malachi is a high-energy guy. A lot of highlight plays you’ll see this year.”
However, Featherstone is also still looking for more from his two star players.
He wants Simpson to become a better rebounder and defender.
“To get those Division I colleges to look at him, he’s got to be able to play both sides of the ball,” Featherstone said. “And that’s gonna be a big emphasis this year.”
Simpson averaged more than two steals per game last season because of his length and prowess in passing lanes. But Featherstone wants him to become a more improved on-ball defender.
Simpson said he wants to become a dominant scorer from every level on offense this season, so he worked on his handles and jump shot the most this offseason. Last year, he converted only 10 of the 43 3-pointers he attempted for a mark of 23% from deep.
“But I feel like I’m gonna be able to score from outside when I get in the zone,” he said. “And really when I step up, I feel like I’m a really great three-level scorer.”
Featherstone is challenging Landrum to tally a double-double — at least 10 points and 10 rebounds — in every game this season.
“I think he’s capable of that every night,” Featherstone said.
He said Landrum has also become much bigger and stronger during the offseason. Some of that increase is due to his time playing football.
Landrum is a star defensive lineman and wide receiver for Hendersonville. He accumulated 72 total tackles, 13 of them for a loss, five sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. He added 42 catches for 733 yards with eight touchdowns and rushed for 303 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries.
Landrum said his experience playing football benefits him greatly on the basketball court.
“Just the physicality, especially being a post player,” he said. “And then just be able to outjump people, me playing receiver.”
3RD ROUND PREDICTIONS: WNC high school football predictions for third-round playoff games, including Swain County at Robbinsville
One of the biggest lessons Featherstone, Landrum, Simpson and the rest of the team took from last season’s third-round playoff exit to East Gaston was they need to shoot better.
“The lesson learned in that was you can’t shoot 25% from the field, 5% from the three,” Featherstone said. “You’re not gonna be able to beat a good team that late in the playoffs.”
Simpson believes this team is capable of making another deep playoff run.
“We got guys that can score 15 a night,” he said. “Then they can go out another night and play defense. We just got versatile players.”