NORTH AUGUSTA - Rod Culver entered his senior season with high expectations in a tough region.
Fox Creek coach Andrew Peckham simply looked back at the state title game two years ago as proof that Culver can handle the spotlight. Peckham was right.
Culver, The Augusta Chronicle's All-Area South Carolina Boys Basketball Player of the Year, averaged 16.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 steals per game as a senior.
Fox Creek was dealt a tough assignment by being placed in Region 3-AA with Gray Collegiate, Keenan and Saluda. The Predators responded to being picked for the bottom of the region by finishing third at 5-5 and 15-10 overall.
The cool and steady Culver was a major reason why the team placed better than most expected.
"There's no question with what he was able to provide, both from an offensive and defensive standpoint, he was the best player on the floor in a lot of our games this year for either team," Peckham said.
Culver's introduction to the state came as a sophomore in the 2015 Class A state championship.
Fox Creek lost to Burke in the game, but Culver scored a game-high 16 points.
He broke out as a junior by averaging 13.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. With expectations high entering his senior season, Culver didn't disappoint in a much tougher region.
Culver listed the Saluda game as one of his senior highlights.
He posted 33 of the team's 49 points and added 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
"My skills have grown tremendously since my sophomore year," Culver said. "I became more of a playmaker, a better athlete in basketball, very skillful. I changed a lot since sophomore year. I attribute that to my parents, motivation, my friends, hard work, dedication, my coach."
Peckham said Culver will go down as one of the best players to come through Fox Creek. The numbers back that up, but even beyond stats, Culver became the face of the program.
"I love everything about Fox Creek," Culver said. "It's a good school. I'm sure going to miss it when I go off to college, no matter where I go."
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216