Another Curry -- Steph's brother Seth -- finds success at Liberty
Seth Curry was also barely recruited by high-majors, landing at Liberty
Seth is the only freshman listed among the nation's top 50 scorers (20.3 ppg)
Brother Stephen texts him after games and the two talk once a week
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. -- Seth Curry tugs at the drawstrings on his shorts more than any other player on the court. During free throws, coming out of timeouts, maybe before an inbound play, the Liberty freshman is retying those pesky strings. When you are about as wide as a fire station pole, there's a good chance those shorts may slide right off, and that's no way to light up the opposition.
Curry is listed at 180 pounds, but the 6-foot-3 guard must have been holding a pair of dumbbells when he stood on that scale. But as his brother Stephen has proved in three brilliant years at Davidson, size doesn't matter to the Curry boys. Stephen should be a first- or second-team All-America this season, and Seth has his eyes on being the top freshman scorer in the country.
Inevitably, when the story of Seth Curry gets told, it starts with the question: How did the big-time schools miss on another Curry? The only ACC school interested in Stephen was Virginia Tech, and the Hokies wanted him to walk-on. But then the kid smoked high-major and mid-major competition alike at Davidson, showing off skills both inherited and learned from his father, Dell, a 16-year NBA veteran. Armed with that background, ACC coaches surely wanted to get their hands on the second Curry, one who was actually a little more accomplished at Charlotte Christian High, right?
"The coaches would tell me, 'We really like him, but his body looks like he's 14,'" Charlotte Christian coach Shonn Brown said of the younger Curry. "I would talk about the intangibles in his game. I understand there are schools out there that have a certain style of recruiting and want a player that looks a certain way, so it didn't work out. It was a little bit puzzling."
Virginia Tech, Dell's alma mater, came through with a late offer, but it was Liberty who was most persistent from the get-go. Coach Ritchie McKay liked what he saw early, then crossed his fingers that bigger programs would pass. The summer before Seth's senior year, he battled a bit of a hamstring injury, and outside of Virginia Tech (which never recruited Seth heavily), high-major offers never came. It came down to Liberty and Davidson, and Seth liked the opportunities Liberty provided with immediate playing time and a chance to make his own name.
And does he play with a chip on his shoulder after getting passed over by high majors?
"I try to be the best player on the court every night," Seth said.
Seth wasted little time in writing a worthy sequel to his older brother's success in the mid-major world. In his third game, Curry scored 26 points in an 86-82 upset at Virginia. In his fifth game, he forced a second overtime against William & Mary with a three-pointer with 18 seconds left, then did the same thing in his sixth game against George Mason, nailing a game-tying three with 18 seconds remaining. By the time he scored 24 points in a narrow loss at Clemson, the secret was out, and Seth was getting the opposition's best defender night after night.
It hasn't slowed him down. Through Tuesday, Curry was averaging 20.3 points (good for No. 22 nationally) and is the only freshman among the nation's top 50 scorers. Liberty is sitting in third place in the Big South Conference at 9-5 (18-8 overall) after finishing 7-7 and 16-16 a year ago.
"He's brought a lot of attention [to Liberty]," junior Kyle Ohman said. "It started out because he's Steph's brother, but really it has been what he's been doing."
Seth is making a name for himself, twice being named Dick Vitale's "Diaper Dandy of the Week," but that doesn't mean Stephen is ever far from his thoughts. The two text after every game and talk once a week. Before regular practices started in October, Stephen visited his younger brother at Liberty to make sure he was taking care of himself and properly preparing for his first season.
"The wear and tear will get to you halfway through the season," Stephen said. "If you prepare early for it, you'll be fine."
Seth may be hitting the freshman wall, wearing down almost four months into the season. During a recent three-game stretch, Curry was 4-for-25 from three and has shot more than 50 percent from the floor just twice since Jan. 3.
"I ran into it about this time my freshman year," Stephen said. "I know he hasn't been shooting the ball too well recently. His legs might be giving out a little, but based on my experience, it will work out down the stretch."
Last week, in a double-overtime loss at Gardner-Webb, Seth showed flashes of his potential and the inconsistencies that can plague a freshman. He had just two first-half points, but finished with 21 despite missing 8-of-9 three-pointers. His game around the basket was impressive, showing the ability to get off quick shots and reverse layups in traffic. He was 8-for-8 at the line and grabbed seven boards. On the downside, he was forced to come off the bench after being late to the team breakfast (he called it "a freshman mistake"), he had four turnovers and was unable to get a shot off at the end of regulation with the score tied.
"You know he's eventually going to score baskets because he's so adept at that," McKay said. "In the first half, he settled for the first available basket, and if it wasn't there, he wasn't working hard enough. The off-ball contact on Seth is constant. As his strength increases, he'll get better at handling it. It rides him out of position and makes him catch it further out, but those are real minor corrections that he will become much more adept at as his career goes on."
Seth can only hope his career contains a stretch like Stephen experienced last March. Seth watched from the stands as his older brother exploded in the NCAA tournament, averaging 32 points a game in a magical four-game run that ended with a two-point loss to eventual national-champion Kansas.
"I knew he was good, but I didn't figure he was one of the best players in the country until he did it game after game," Seth said. "I saw him do it in the first round, and that was a great game, but I didn't know if he could do it again. And then he did it three more times, and I was like, 'Whoa.' My brother was a household name. That was weird. It gave me confidence I could go out there and play my game and have similar success to him."
So far, so good.