COVINGTON — Having coached Oliver Gerard for the past three-plus seasons at Alcovy, head coach Mack Hardwick still has moments of utter shock when watching his rising senior attack the rim.
With Gerard making a name for himself as one of the area’s top dunkers, Hardwick said he doesn’t always know when his 6-foot-2 guard is going to rise up and throw one down.
While his breakaway dunks are to be expected by the veteran coach, his dunks in traffic, similar to the ones that he watched Gerard throw down during the recent NCAA Georgia/GHSA showcase, still manage to catch him off guard.
“He’s definitely the anchor when it comes to this team,” Hardwick said. “His maturation has taken leaps and bounds. If he continues going the way that he’s going, he’s going to get himself a big scholarship out of here. The things that he is doing is almost a freak of nature. It’s exciting, not only coaching him, but watching him play because you never know what you’re going to see.”
For Gerard, his dunking ability is just a matter of putting in the work that not everyone is willing to do.
“This year, I’m really taking it to the next level,” Gerard said of his dunking ability. “I’ve been in the weight room a lot and have been getting up at 5 a.m. to work out.”
Gerard hasn’t only made a name for himself as a flashy dunker, but a player who can do it all. As a junior this past season, Gerard averaged 12.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.
With a taste of success during the 2018-19 season with the Tigers, Gerard said it has made him even hungrier to continue to improve.
“I’m just working on my ball handling and trying to be more patient,” Gerard said. “I’m also working on my shot, my passing and keeping my head up. I’m also working on trying to become a better leader for this team.”
From a leadership standpoint, Hardwick said he has definitely seen his star player accept that role with open arms.
“He has definitely been leading when it comes to the team,” Hardwick said.
“A lot of the time, it’s not by talking, it’s by action. He’s actually putting up the stats behind what he has to say. Anytime a player is doing that, they are definitely going to lead and will have people following them.”
The leadership skills Gerard is starting to develop are helping him both on and off the court, he said.
“It’s very important,” Gerard said. “It shows me a lot of the skills that I need to work on socially. Not just basketball, but in life. Being a leader on a basketball team helps a lot. I just try to encourage the team. If some of the players start feeling down, I try to tell them that it’s all good.”
So far, Gerard said he has seen a major difference in the team camaraderie, as well as the team’s attitude towards both the Alcovy coaching staff and each other.
“It’s coming together pretty well,” Gerard said. “We’re a lot better. We’re gelling as a team and playing more like a team should. We’re not playing selfish ball. A lot of players are more disciplined and are listening to the coaches. We’re going to show the county and the region whats up.”
So far, Gerard has earned an offer from Coker College, an NCAA Division II program located in Hartsville, South Carolina.