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RHS alum Salisbury capitalizing on unexpected chance in Philly

Mar 25, 2014 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

Take a look at the roster of the Harcum (Bryn Mawr, Penn.) College Bears men's basketball team, and you'll notice the hometowns you would expect to see from a national junior college basketball power. Players from the Bronx and Philadelphia are on the list, as well as athletes from Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. There are also foreign players from Argentina, Jamaica and Spain.

And there is one player, Kade Salisbury, from Riverton, on the team that just completed its best season in school history. With 32 wins, the Bears capped their historic run at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I National Semifinals in Hutchinson, Kansas, marking the first final-four appearance in school history.

"A year ago, I thought I was going to go to CWC. I never would have even have imagined what has happened," Salisbury said Monday from Harcum College.

Playing on historically great teams has become a habit for Salisbury. Last year, he was a key playmaker for the Riverton Wolverines during their season that ended with an appearance in the Class 4-A state championship game.

Originally recruited to play for the Central Wyoming College Rustlers, Salisbury's post-high school options appeared limited after CWC coach Curtis Conde left the school last year. But Conde continued working on Salisbury's behalf and a phone call to his friend, Harcum coach Doug Thibault, changed Salisbury's life.

"Coach Thibault called and said he was from Harcum College. I asked him where that was. He said Philadelphia, and I thought he was joking and that someone was playing a prank on me," Salisbury said.

The call was for real, and after calling the coach back with his parents, Salisbury, a dean's list student who may graduate with his associates degree after just one year at the school, decided to visit Harcum College in July.

"I didn't know what to expect. I felt like I could have fun, have a new experience. I was kind of scared at first, because my closest friends were thousands of miles away," Salisbury said.

Salisbury signed with the school on his campus visit, flew back to Philadelphia on a Sunday in August, and started school the next day.

'My mom didn't want to send me off, so she sent me the Sunday of. I got to school about 7 p.m. eastern time, didn't know anybody, didn't even unpack. I ate dinner and went to bed because I had classes at 8 a.m. the next day," Salisbury said.

Adding to the experience has been playing in front of more than 50 NCAA Division I college coaches who routinely stop by to watch the Harcum team in drills, including Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, in his very first practice.

Salisbury rooms with fellow players from Virginia, Argentina and Jamaica who began to introduce him to others and helped him meet new friends.

"We get along great. Most junior college teams are individual, like 'I need to get mine so I can get to better schools.' We were one of the top teams in the nation for assists. We share the ball well. All of the sophomores are going Division I next year," Salisbury said.

As far as his basketball talent, it took a couple of weeks to adjust the speed and athleticism of his new team, but Salisbury believes he is a "way better" player and that his defense and 3-point shooting have improved the most.

Salisbury is appreciative of the support he's received from friends and family back in Riverton and will meet with his Harcum coaches soon to continue to plan his school and basketball future.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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