G.W.-Danville grad Bruce Elder Jr. seeing hard work pay off

January 16, 2014

bruceThe Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) men’s basketball team fought the impending snow Tuesday afternoon to hold practice. The 13 players on the Patriots roster spent about two hours in Stone Hall going over offensive sets and other issues head coach Kenny Wade wanted worked out.

Starting forward Bruce Elder, a graduate of G.W.-Danville High School, showed signs of a limp as he ran up and down the court. However, the nagging foot injury the sophomore is dealing with is relatively minor  compared to the journey that landed him at PHCC.

Although Elder played his high school basketball at nearby G.W.-Danville, he wasn’t a big part of the team. However, it never forced him to get down on himself or lose his passion for playing basketball.

“I didn’t get that much playing time at G.W.,” he said. “So it was a different situation from now, because I was kind of overlooked.”

Wade invited Elder to try out for the Patriots. Wade, along with his coaching staff, saw Elder’s potential.

“He came in here for a workout two years ago,” Wade said. “(Former North Carolina star) J.R. Reid, one of the former coaches here, loved Bruce’s work ethic in the tryout, so we gave him a shot.”

Elder took full advantage of the tryout and since has embraced the challenges he’s been presented.

“After the tryout, I came here and just put in the work and got a chance to prove myself,” he said. “I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunity that’s been presented to me.”

Even after he made the team last season, it took Elder some time to become the type of player his coaches knew he could be. This season, he’s seen his hard work pay off, averaging a team-high 16.1 points per game and 4.5 rebounds, good for second.

“I don’t think Bruce got many looks coming out of high school, but he’s an athletic player.” Wade said. “It took a while to get him to buy in (to the system) because he wanted to play on the perimeter. But, eventually we got him to believe that the best part of his game would be around the basket and attacking the rim. Once he bought in to that, good things started to happen.”

Those good things included scoring at least 20 points in six games this season and back-to-back 30-point games, against Pitt Community College and Lenoir Community College.

The 6-foot-5 Elder has embraced the role of being the “big guy” in the paint, grabbing rebounds, taking elbows, and doing most of his scoring inside. He said he has been willing being the aggressor.

“It’s not easy being that guy,” said Elder, “but that’s what the coaches want me to be. Me being in that role is what’s best for the team, and I’m a team player, so I have no problem with it. It takes a team effort and were trying to win as many games as possible, so I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Wade said he and his staff couldn’t be happier seeing Elder go from a tryout to one of the team’s leading scorers in two short seasons.

“It’s very exciting, because in Bruce we see the fruits of our labor,” Wade said. “When these guys come here we want to push and develop these guys. When we see the development and growth, it excites the entire staff, because that’s what we’re here to do.”

Even with all the praise his staff and his teammates have given him, Wade knows that in order for the Patriots to go deep into the postseason, Elder must continue to develop his game.

“If (Elder) wants to be a complete player, he needs to improve on handling the basketball,” Wade said. “That and consistently knocking down the open jump shot on the perimeter.”

Filed under: Men's Basketball