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Soft-spoken Terry enters spotlight as leading figure for Maroons - Nov 7, 2018

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Wed, 11/07/2018 - 7:00am | Colin Likas
CHAMPAIGN - Khailieo Terry is best remembered for two attributes from his freshman year at Champaign Central. They both come with the territory of being an uber-talented basketball big man.

Hauling in rebounds and rattling the rim with dunks.That's not all the soft-spoken 6-foot-4 sophomore wants to be recognized for.

"Everybody in C-U thinks, 'Khailieo still can't shoot,'" Terry said. "They'll see this year."

Terry is the Maroons' lone returning starter, but he's not expecting a drop in success - from himself or a team that ended last season in the Class 3A sectional semifinals.

He spent the latest AAU campaign - during which he traveled to Mexico, Las Vegas, Florida and Texas - working on ballhandling, jump-shooting and basketball IQ.

"Last year, it was a senior-led team and, as a freshman, he was able to fit into the background," Maroons coach Jeff Finke said. "We tried not to put too much pressure on him, but he knows (now) ... there's a little pressure."

Terry responds to that concept by putting in more work.

His title on the website of recruiting service 247sports may read "Khailieo 'Freak Show' Terry," but he doesn't feast on his own hype.

"Basketball is not a game," Terry said. "It's kind of like my lifestyle."

Terry's natural athleticism, Finke said, makes it easy for the youngster to quickly pick up on various teaching points.

Of course, that doesn't account for all of Terry's growth.

"Two words we have posted on our walls are questions: 'Are you coachable?' and 'Are you teachable?'" Finke said. "He's 100 percent for both. He takes anything we'll give him and tries to apply it, and has become a better player because of it."

It can't be overstated what sort of effect Central's departed seniors had and continue to have on Terry as well.

Terry can pinpoint exactly what Tim Finke, A'Kieon Gill, Jonte Coleman and Qwentin Peacock, among others, have contributed to his game.

"A'Kieon, my cousin, he taught me that whoever is in front of you, go at them," Terry said. "Tim has helped me stay focused. Jonte helped me develop a jump shot. Q also helped me develop a jump shot.

"They all kind of put into me."

That'll set the Maroons off on the right foot while trying to piece together the rest of their new-look lineup ahead of Central's season opener on Nov. 19 against rival Centennial at Combes Gym.

Seniors Sam Beesley and Jalen Booker project to be critical components. Terry isn't worried about Jeff Finke having to fill out his top five, though.

"I play with them all the time," Terry said. "We're always together ... outside of school, open gym, at the gym. So I pretty much know how everyone plays."

And most locals are aware of Terry's exploits. Perhaps not the changes he suggests they'll see to his skill set.

More so about the monstrous slams.

"You get the retweets and things go viral on Twitter for some of his dunks," Finke said. "But to be quite honest with you, in open gyms, watching these guys compete on their own ... I don't know if Khailieo has dunked, in 20 open gyms, 10 times this fall."

Does that mean fans won't see any highlight-reel throw-downs from Terry?

"That's not going anywhere," he said with a grin.   

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