TJ senior Scharbo named Daily News boys basketball player of year
For the first 20 games of Charlie Scharbo's junior season, he sat on the bench and watched.
Sure, Scharbo got the occasional “garbage time” at the end of a Thomas Jefferson blowout win, but typically, the warm-up suit never came off.
Some would've complained.
Others would've quit.
Scharbo did neither.
“I'll be honest, it hurt just watching,” Scharbo said, “but I also knew I could do something about it.”
Scharbo hit the weights to get stronger and was routinely found on the court at 6:30 a.m. working on his game with coaches. He played a lot of basketball for his AAU team and also in the J. Budd Grebb summer league. And he grew 2 inches.
It was a formula for success as Scharbo transformed from an unknown bench-sitter into the 2013-14 Daily News Boys Basketball Player of the Year in mere months.
“It is a great lesson for kids and a great lesson for coaching,” Thomas Jefferson coach Dom DeCicco said. “People stereotype kids and say that he can only do this or this. Kids develop at different stages. Some develop from freshman to sophomore. Others later.”
Scharbo falls under the “later” category.
Scharbo, a 6-foot-3 senior guard/forward, helped Thomas Jefferson to a school-record 23 wins and to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals while averaging 16.9 points and 10 rebounds per game.
“He is typical of the guys TJ had,” West Mifflin coach Lance Maha said. “He plays hard, he makes big plays at important times and he's a worker. From a coach's standpoint, he was fun to watch because he took himself from a bench player to a kid who will play in college. That's a testament to his hard work.”
That hard work started not long after Scharbo got a real taste of varsity action as a junior. He played significant minutes in both the section-clinching regular-season finale against West Mifflin and the state playoff game against General McLane.
“I just wanted to be the best that I could be and help the team as much as possible to be successful,” Scharbo said. “I definitely saw the hard work paying off during the summer. I realized that I was improving a lot.”
Scharbo's biggest leap came while competing in the Grebb league — a playground league in California (Pa.) that featured players like Lincoln Park's Elijah Minnie, Elizabeth Forward's George Prota, Monessen's Clintell Gillaspie and Kiski School's Noah Brown.
Scharbo averaged 20.9 points for Campy's Pizza during the regular season before scoring 27 in a semifinal loss. He was named a first-team all-star.
“After the summer, I just knew the kid was just going to shock people,” DeCicco said. “The work he did in the offseason … he worked on his weaknesses and got better. He is not fast or can jump out of the building, but he got to the basket and finished around the rim as good as anyone I have ever coached.”
Even after a successful summer, Scharbo still wasn't sure that his strides were good enough to translate into being a top player in the WPIAL.
“I was a little nervous,” Scharbo said.
Scharbo scored 16 in the season-opener against Quad-A Bethel Park and 19 the next night against Erie McDowell and was off to the races. Scharbo scored 20 points or more 10 times and was the Jaguars' leading scorer in 16 of 27 games.
“I am not a big believer in that a kid doesn't have varsity experience so he can't help us, and Charlie is proof,” DeCicco said. “We are just starting to see his potential. He isn't even close to his potential yet.”
Scharbo, who is getting looks from Thiel, Washington & Jefferson, Carlow and Penn State Beaver, has been selected to play in the Roundball Classic and the “Hoops for a Cure” all-star game at Chartiers Valley with, and against, some of the best players in the WPIAL.
“I never thought I'd have this many opportunities to play college basketball,” Scharbo said. “It's very exciting.”
And all the credit goes to hard work.