Terrell McWilliams remembers the days before coming to Battery Creek, when he would hear often of the Dolphins' basketball success.
And when the former Wade Hampton student moved to the area during his junior year, he knew he wanted to be a part of the program. His first experience was watching a Battery Creek home playoff game last season, which he sat out after arriving in February.
"They love basketball here," McWilliams said. "I just couldn't wait to fast forward to next year. Because I wanted to be part of this and try to do what they did."
McWilliams earned his shot, though maybe not in the way he might have expected. With the Dolphins struggling at the midpoint of the season, and standout guard Javari Albergottie suspended from the team for the remaining games, Battery Creek was forced to regroup.
McWilliams is The Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet Boys Basketball Player of the Year for how he responded the final half of his senior season. He picked up his game in time for the Region 7-AAA schedule and helped carry the Dolphins to a playoff berth.
The Dolphins stood 4-8 at the halfway mark. They closed the regular season 8-4 to finish at .500 before the playoffs.
"Somebody had to step up," McWilliams said. "I just told myself that it was going to be me."
After consecutive region losses in January, McWilliams reached for another gear. He scored 27 points in each of the Dolphins' next two games. Battery Creek lost the first, a heartbreaker at home to region-leading Lake Marion. But the Dolphins defeated Berkeley in what McWilliams said was probably his best performance of the season.
He averaged 12.5 points for the season, which jumped to 16 points per game during region play. During the Dolphins' first-round playoff exit at Hartsville, McWilliams led the team with 12 points. He thought the season could have ended better, that the Dolphins started flat and never recovered.
Last summer, McWilliams was unsure of his role. He credited his fellow Dolphins for helping him acclimate.
"They're the best teammates I've had playing basketball my four years," McWilliams said.
McWilliams wants to continue playing. He is exploring the junior college route with the help of coach Antoine Youmans.
McWilliams has worked to improve his jump shot to become more attractive to college coaches. His high school coaches told him throughout the season to fire with an open look, but McWilliams never felt comfortable, instead content to take the ball to the basket or passing off to a teammate.
McWilliams said he has worked to stay in basketball shape, lifting weights and hoisting jumpers. He wants to impact his next team as he has this one.
"I've been working on it since the season ended," he said. "So I should be fine."