Russell takes the lead

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Naugatuck senior point guard and captain Dayvon Russell leads a veteran-laden squad on the court. –FILE PHOTO
Naugatuck senior point guard and captain Dayvon Russell leads a veteran-laden squad on the court. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys basketball team enters its final the regular season games with a 13-4 record and on pace to have the best record since Mike Wilson, the Greyhounds’ head coach, played in garnet and grey.

Certainly a big reason for Naugy’s success is the varsity experience that the team has with seven seniors on the roster.

But how has Wilson been able to find a stand-out leader in this veteran-filled squad? Well, while one of his captains is the quarterback of the football team (Jason Bradley), the Greyhounds’ coach also looks to his “basketball quarterback,” point guard Dayvon Russell, for that spark and motivation.

“He is our heart and soul,” Wilson said. “He always has a positive influence on the team.”

Russell is averaging 16 points per game and has started all of Naugy’s first 16 games this season, which impresses Wilson the most, considering the injuries and suspensions that some of his players have gone through this season.

“He is a warrior,” said Wilson of Russell. “The fact that he works his tail off is exactly what you look for in a leader.”

Russell says that tremendous effort is because he has been in love with the game since he was just a child.

“I have been playing since I was 6 years old and ever since that, I have always loved the game,” the senior point guard said. “I always look forward to practicing after school, and even after practice.”

Practice after practice? Where does the influence come from to go the extra mile?

“My dad keeps pushing me,” Russell said. “Ever since I was 6, he would always take me to basketball camps, and he kept pushing me in middle school and now high school.”

A great work ethic isn’t the only attitude Russell brings to the team. Wilson is more than amazed by the optimism that Dayvon exudes on a day-to-day basis.

“I think the kid is happy all the time, I swear,” Wilson said. “He always has a smile on his face and I think that just rubs off on the home team.”

The leader of the ‘Hounds continued his tremendous senior season Tuesday night against Wolcott, where he erupted for a career-high 32 points and went 10 of 13 from three-point range. The 10 3’s is a school record. Naugy cruised to an 83-60 victory over Wolcott.

From breaking records to practicing after practice, Russell is a one-of-a-kind player that the Greyhounds are fortunate to have.

Russell has his eye on playing basketball after high school and has been searching for junior colleges in Colorado and Utah.

His head coach believes that Russell has what it takes to play at the next level.

“He has a tremendous handle with the ball,” Wilson said. “I feel, and I will not back off this stance, that Dayvon is the best point guard in the NVL right now pound for pound. He is amazing. He really is.”

The Greyhounds hit the road to take on Watertown Friday night. A live broadcast of the Watertown game is available here. Naugy will visit Woodland Feb. 24 and close out the season Feb. 26 at home versus Torrington.