Webb guard finds right fit in Warren Wilson College

Jul. 11, 2014 @ 09:57 PM

Fit was the operative word Wednesday as J.F. Webb’s Stefan Cates signed to play basketball at Warren Wilson College.

Warren Wilson, located in Asheville, competes in Division II of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.

Cates, a four-year starter who finished with more than 1,000 career points for the Warriors, also had an offer from and considered Pfeiffer University of NCAA Division II.

“Warren Wilson was the better fit,” said Cates, who is eager to play right away.

Cates averaged 18 or 19 points his senior season and six or seven rebounds, according to Warriors head coach Leo Brunelli.

Cates earned all-conference honors as a senior and was an honorable mention selection as a junior.

“Four-year starter, state champion, three out of the four years in the state playoffs with deep runs,” said Brunelli. “Just a great model of Webb basketball.”

The 6-foot-1 guard said he’s focused on improving his ball handling and finishing at the rim and could see some time at point guard for the Owls.

“He’s definitely a good fit for us,” said William Monts, Warren Wilson’s head coach. “I’d say he’s a versatile guard. He brings some athleticism to the table that’s going to help us out a lot. He can play above the rim, can handle it, can rebound, can defend. That excites me about him.”

Monts described Warren Wilson’s athletic department as growing. The four-year liberal arts college has an enrollment of 850, according to the school’s website.

The Owls compete as an independent and their schedule includes games against NCAA opponents.

Cates played an important part in the 2013 state championship campaign Brunelli alluded to.

In a regional semifinal win over Eastern Alamance, Cates scored 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds before he converted some clutch free throws against Rocky Mount to help seal a state final berth.

“That was the best moment of my whole basketball career was winning the state championship,” said Cates. “When I was young, that’s all I wanted to do was win a state championship... I’m just glad that we did it. We were the first ones to do it at Webb.”

And Cates will be remembered for his role in the magical season for many years to come.

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.