Dedert developing into Plum's senior leader

| Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Plum's Austin Dedert is not an overnight sensation, but rather a product of evolution.

The 6-6, 200-pound senior has filled in where needed over the years, gaining fundamental skills and picking up positional nuances along the way. Last season he was depended on to rebound and guard around the basket. This season, Dedert has been called upon to score.

“He knew that's what he had to do for us this year,” Plum coach Ron Richards said. “For us to be successful, he's going to have to score.”

The Mustangs are 4-0 overall and 1-0 in Section 2-AAAA thanks in no small part to Dedert. He has averaged 20 points per game and led the team in scoring every game, including a season-high 24 against Deer Lakes Dec. 7.

As a sophomore Dedert was responsible for defending and pulling down rebounds. Last season he became more of an offensive threat, but mostly in flashes. He has put it all together this season. A threat to score and rebound in double figures on any given night, Dedert is also a superb defender, evidenced by his eight blocks against Kiski Dec. 9.

“All credit in the world to him,” Richards said. “He's worked hard to expand his game. He was a 160-pound skinny kid as a 10th grader, and now he's up to 200 pounds. This year he is doing exactly what we expect and what he's capable of.”

Richards said Dedert has the wingspan of someone 6-9. That length coupled with athleticism wreak havoc on defense, but also aids his offense. The big man added a deep shot to his repertoire this season and can consistently step away from his slower defenders and hit 3-pointers.

“He can step out and shoot the basketball from the perimeter now,” Richards said. “And he still has what he had before; he's a natural defender and a shot blocker.”

Dedert and fellow forward Nick Stotler are the only seniors on the team. Dedert's maturation as a player has led him to be a leader of his team.

“You have to lead everybody and it starts with the seniors,” said Dedert. “You can preach all you want, but if you want people to follow your lead, you have to lead by example.”

The senior leader will have to navigate his squad through a tough section that includes three of the Tribune-Review's preseason top 10 in Gateway (No. 3), Fox Chapel (No. 4) and Central Catholic (No. 6). The Mustangs and Foxes were the only section teams still unbeaten heading into this week.

“It's a really competitive section this year,” Dedert said. “Every game you have to come in and put in your best effort. But I have no doubt in my mind we will be a playoff team.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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