Yeomans: from forgotten man to THE man
Groton — Other young people with Trevor Yeomans' plight might have been a real pain in the ascot. Imagine: senior year of high school basketball and mostly riding the bench, save an occasional morsel.
Other coaches with Sam Cheung's plight would have been fodder for some dart-throwing from aggrieved alumni. Imagine: recruiting a kid to your first-year college program with scant high school experience.
Who knew something like this, perhaps better suited to end in divorce court, would have been so perfect for the basketball court?
Yeomans, a Waterford High kid who played on the 2018 state championship team, just finished a two-year run at UConn Avery Point, where Cheung is the still the relatively new sheriff. Yeomans led the Pointers to the program's first home playoff game in history this past year and a winning record, averaging 14 points per game en route. Turns out the kid could play all along.
"When I saw Trevor in high school," said Cheung, an alum of Waterford and Coast Guard Academy, "I knew that he was raw. There was some talent there. What he did here was special. It didn't take long until he was my voice on the floor. Trevor is like a lot of kids. Sometimes, they don't come into who they are as a player until they're 19 or 20."
Maybe it's no more complicated than this: Rewards aren't always tangible for being a good person. A good teammate. But Yeomans' attitude was exemplary at Waterford, accepting a diminished role with humor and humility. He was often the comic relief, but probably never realized the significance of his behavior. Vegas wouldn't lay great odds for quality team chemistry if the kid everyone likes is miserable.
Not only did he leave high school with a championship ring, but found some basketball salvation at a later date. Quite the quinella.
"It wasn't easy not playing as much as I would have liked," Yeomans said earlier this week. "But I also knew how good the guys were in front of me. Was I as good as they were? Probably not. Plus, they're my brothers. I played with them from the time I was little. Their success was my success."
Some coaches probably just read that and went 1) "why can't we get kids like that?" and 2) does he have any brothers or sisters?"
Yeomans, who found Avery Point thanks to a nudge from Dan Spellman, a former coach in the region whose son, Liam, was Yeomans' Lancer teammate. He played right away for Cheung, who had to build a program in the New England region of junior college filled with, as Cheung says, "grown men."
"I remember we were playing Bristol County Community College one night," Yeomans said. "Grown men. They had a guy who reminded us all of Jayson Tatum. I'm not kidding. I went off for like 24 that night. That's when I knew I could do this."
Yeomans may have known before that. He'll always have a place in Waterford Lore and Legend for his 11 needed points in the 2018 state semifinals against Prince Tech. Even better: He stuffed 6-foot-7 center Kaheem Stewart at one point, sending the bench into convulsions.
Cheung called Yeomans "one of the top 20" players in New England junior college, perhaps belying his frame. He's shaped more like 6 o'clock than one of Cheung's "grown men."
Yeomans even had an opportunity to continue basketball beyond Avery Point, hearing from Div. III Salve Regina and Rhode Island College, among others. He decided to hang 'em up, though, in favor of pursuing a degree in special education from UConn.
"The idea that those schools were interested in Trevor says a lot," Cheung said.
It says even more for what Cheung has wrought in two years at Avery Point/University of Bidwell. It's not easy to recruit kids who must gain admission to UConn and play a schedule against other junior colleges with — how to put this delicately — less stringent academic requirements.
"I owe a lot to coach Spellman," Yeomans said. "And I owe a lot to coach Cheung. I can't believe how much that guy knows about basketball. It was a great experience playing there. I'd tell that to anybody."
Trevor Yeomans: from forgotten man to THE man. He made his last two places better places.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro