KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - Kinston junior basketball standout Dontrez Styles is our newest WITN Pepsi Player of the Week!
Kinston, North Carolina is often called "America's Basketball Heaven," and if you go through its history, that nickname makes a whole lot of sense. From Cedric Maxwell to Jerry Stackhouse. Reggie Bullock to Brandon Ingram. It's pretty incredible just how many legendary players have come out of Kinston.
And it looks like the Vikings have found their next big star. His name is Dontrez Styles, and he is a four-star prospect getting recruited by about 30 D-I programs.
His surname is Styles and boy, does he have style!
"He's really a positionless player for us, and that's what we've gotta have," said Kinston head coach Perry Tyndall. "He just has to impact games on so many different levels, and I think he loves that."
In the eighth grade, the now 6-foot-7 swingman said he knew he'd one day be one of the top basketball prospects in the country.
"It means a lot," said Styles. "It took me a lot to get here. A lot of hard work, so I just keep level-headed and keep God first."
During his sophomore season, Styles averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Now, as a junior, Styles is pushing 21 and 10 through the Vikings' first seven games.
"Just really my confidence and my ball handling," said Styles when asked about where he's improved most. "Shooting the ball better. All summer working hard. So I would say my work ethic."
"I think people would probably question his consistency, but he's shooting it really well, embracing more leadership and just understanding when he needs to go impact games in a bigger way," Tyndall added.
Big name schools like Kansas and Louisville are starting to make Styles a big priority. Other schools interested include: Clemson, NC State, Pittsburgh, DePaul, East Carolina, Georgetown, Maryland, Ole Miss, St. John's, USF, VCU, and Wake Forest.
"When these guys recruit him, I'm like: 'You're recruiting an incredible basketball player who's going to make your team very good, but you're also recruiting a young man who's a great person,'" Tyndall said.
"I don't let it get to me though," added Styles surrounding his hype. "I just keep working every day. Stay humble. Trust god. He makes the way."
Styles credits his faith and family help keep him level-headed.
"He's humble but he's also got a confidence that he knows that he belongs in all the conversations about the best players in the state," Tyndall added.
Every now and again, Styles says he picks Brandon Ingram's brain for pointers. Of course, Ingram is a former Kinston star and current NBA standout for the New Orleans Pelicans.
"[Brandon Ingram] He tells me to keep confident and just keep working hard."
The immediate goal for Styles is college basketball.
"I'm coming for everybody this year," Styles said with a smirk.
But who knows, maybe one day Styles and Ingram will square off in the NBA.
"I don't like to overhype, but he's got a chance to be a very special player for any school that he decides to go to then after that who knows, as well," Tyndall said.
Next up for Styles and the Vikings is the annual John Wall Holiday Hoops Invitational in Raleigh. Kinston (7-0) tips off against Moravian Prep (15-0) this Thursday, December 26 at 3:45 p.m.
For more on Styles, check out the video above! (Feature airs Tuesday during WITN Sports at 6:20 p.m.)
NOTE: If you have a student-athlete or athlete that you would like to nominate as a WITN Pepsi Player of the Week, please email a bio to Tyler Feldman at firstname.lastname@example.org.