Sports

From role player to role model

Derrick Webb truly is a superstar.

Not so much on the basketball court, a place where he is a star, but in life in general.

The little guy that always seems to have a smile on his face has come a long way in life. From a broken home to South Kitsap Homecoming King, from role player to leader of the state’s top-ranked and unbeaten basketball team, Webb has seen it all.

“I think I’m doing pretty good this season,” Webb said, as he and the Wolves prepare for post-season play. “I’ve stepped up a little bit. I had to change my role from last year to maybe scoring a little more and playing a little defense this year. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”

He’s had to change a lot through life, and he makes it seem as effortless and as smooth as one of his patented jump shots.

Webb didn’t have the luxury of a normal childhood while growing up in Seattle. His parents had their share of problems and it was his brother Anthony Peterson who took a leadership role in his life, watched out for him and introduced him to the sport he would come to love.

“My brother helped me out,” Webb said. “I looked up to him.”

It was Peterson, who starred at Highline High, who raised Derrick until he moved to Port Orchard when he was in seventh grade to live with his aunt and uncle.

And life was tough at times.

“A little bit, but I stayed focused on school and basketball,” Webb said. “My brother kept me in line, a lot. Kind of like a father to me.

“If I have problems, I call him,” Webb said. “He’s the first person I’d call. We’re real close. He comes to every single one of my games.”

Webb has gotten a little closer to his father, who lives in Bremerton and has seen a few games this year. His mother is a different story.

“I don’t talk to my mother or anything like that,” Webb said. “I’ve just never really talked to her. It’s just not a good relationship.”

But his relationship with the game of basketball has been a good one, especially this year. Entering tonight’s Narrows League cross-over game with Foss, Webb is averaging 15 points and six rebounds a game for the 20-0 Wolves.

And the senior has done it all while changing positions and roles on this team, moving from point guard while taking over as the team’s leader.

“It’s been big,” Webb said. “I learned a lot from Jake (Beitinger) and Adam (Bennett), (Brian) Cox, (Nate) Seitz … all the captains that were here before me. They taught me a lot. Just looking up to them and seeing how that acted around the players.

“So now I know how to push our players,” Webb said. “I like the leadership role.”

And his coach, John Callaghan, like the way Webb has so easily assumed that role.

“I can’t say enough about (Webb),” Callaghan said. “His role changed, and I think Derrick hit the nail on the head — he learned from Jake and Adam, and he learned from Brian and Trivone (Curry). Derrick has been fortunate and smart enough to pick up and learn what it’s like to be a leader.

“I think a lot of times, and you can ask any of those guys I just named, it’s a lot easier when you’re the underclassman and you can just go out and play,” Callaghan said. “But I think Derrick understands the sense of urgency – this is it for him now. He knows what it feels like at the end. Win or lose, when it’s over, when it’s the end, a lot of really fun, good stuff ends.”

With all the troubles in his young life and the pressure of leading a top-ranked team, Webb has always found a way to keep it fun. He relishes the role as the team’s superstar but in a very humble and easygoing way.

“I think he plays better when he thinks people think he is better,” said teammate Connor McPherson, one of Webb’s closest friends. “Once people get him going and talking about him and he gets that attention, he kind of feeds off it.”

But not in a way that turns his teammates off, McPherson said. He has fun with it but never considers himself above anyone else.

And Webb is always keeping an eye on others as well. He keeps up with the team’s grades, often challenging teammates to outscore him not on the court but in the classroom.

But his attitude also brings some good ribbing from his friends, especially Webb’s perception of his way with the ladies.

“Webb’s a ladies man. Webb gets the girls,” McPherson said. “Webb’s funny.”

“I lot of girls are digging him, and he’s enjoying it,” said Jamil Moore, Webb’s other close friend and teammate. “It’s fun to watch.”

But Moore and McPherson and the rest of the team bring him back to earth on the court. And they represent his family now, especially those three, who are often found hanging out together on the weekends.

Almost an extended family for Webb.

“A little bit,” Webb said. “It helps to have somewhere to go.”

And going back to state is the goal for Webb and his team. Webb has said anything less than a return trip to the title game, a game the Wolves lost in last year, would be a failure.

After that, it’s off for more basketball. He has been getting looks from area colleges and may get even more if he plays well in the playoffs.

As of now, UPS, PLU and Whitworth have all shown an interest in Webb and he is interested in all of them.

Playing college ball is definitely in his plans.

“Hopefully,” Webb said. “That’s what I’m looking for. That’s what I want to do. I just don’t know where I want to go yet.”

Wherever that is, Webb is sure to be the superstar there as well.

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