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Country Day senior Edmond Sumner drives to the lane in a game against Holly on Jan. 10. Signed with Xavier, Sumner was named first team all-state in Class B last year and is one of the top point guards in the state. (Oakland Press file photo (Larry McKee).

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BOYS BASKETBALL: Edmond Sumner has become a leader like no other for Country Day

Country Day senior Edmond Sumner brings the ball up against Romulus last year (Oakland Press file photo/Vaughn Gurganian)

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BEVERLY HILLS - When he was officially named the successor to longtime head coach Kurt Keener at Birmingham Detroit Country Day last June, Mark Bray’s felt it was necessary to reach out to players right away, and his so his first call was to star point guard Edmond Sumner.

As it turns out, that was the only call to a player Bray had to make, but that was a good thing because Sumner took it from there.

“I called him when I got the job and I said that we were going to have a meeting the next day so I can introduce myself,” Bray recalled. “I said ‘Do I need to call each guy on my list?’ He said ‘No, I got it.’ Everybody was there.”

If that wasn’t a sign of Sumner’s leadership and character by itself, it was downright remarkable considering the circumstances surrounding that call and Bray’s selection as head coach.

Along with the Bray, the other finalist for the job was Keener’s assistant coach and protege Rick Palmer, someone Sumner was very close to.

There was plenty of disappointment when Palmer didn’t get the job and probably a lot of temptation from team members to transfer knowing it was going to be a completely different system and personality, and in fact, guard Mory Diane did decide to move on when he transferred to Detroit Pershing.

Despite all of that, Sumner not only stayed put, but immediatley reached out to the coach who beat out his friend for the job and essentially said “You can count on me. I’m here for you.”

“I already knew the guys and I had their numbers,” Sumner said. “It was easier for me to contact them and I knew I was going to have to be a leader for it to work this year. I wanted to step up. I wanted to make the best of the situation. That is just not my character to bash others because I wanted someone else to get it. I just adjusted.”

It’s no wonder why Bray rightfully feels he not only has one of the best players in the state ability-wise running the show at point guard for his team, but one of the best leaders.

“It makes it easier for us to coach,” Bray said. “There was one time out there in practice where Ed told me ‘Just have me take it out, I’ll throw it up to (Nazir Wallace) and we’ll score.’ That was the best thing I could do, which was listen to the best player in the state.”

Sumner certainly cemented himself as one of the state’s top players last season in what was a breakout junior season, as he averaged 16.3 points, 5.9 assists and 1.9 steals a game to not only earn first team all-state honors in Class B, but help lead Country Day to its ninth state championship in school history and ultimately send Keener off to his new Arizona home on top.

So far this season it has been much of the same for Sumner, who has has managed to put on at least a little muscle to a thin frame that has made him in his words, “wiry strong.”

Sumner has been a point guard ever since he was a six-year old that played on a 12-year old AAU team in the summer, but might catch off-guard opponents who look at his thin frame and assume since he won’t win any weightlifting contests any time soon, there is no way he can dominate on the court.

Then Sumner goes out and destroys people with his ball-handling, vision, outside shooting touch and the way he slithers into the paint like a snake to produce scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.

Added bulk should only increase once he gets to his college home, Xavier, and gets into a weightlifting program there.

But while some increased strength has been one area of improvement in his game, the biggest has been his aforementioned leadership skills.

Sumner admitted he has usually been a quiet player in the past, but has made it a point to come out of his shell this season and be more willing to be more vocal both in games and in practice.

Seniors seasons have a strange way of motivating high school athletes to do that, and it goes without saying that Sumner plans on ending his on the floor of Michigan State University’s Breslin Center, site of the Class B state championship game, in March.

“That is what is Xavier is looking for,” Sumner said. “I’m a quiet guy, so I have to keep improving there.”

A more improved Sumner has to be an awful sight for opponents who try to stop them, but then again, so again was his decision to stick it out at Country Day in the first place.

Opponents were probably hoping Sumner would look elsewhere so they didn’t have to deal with him, but even they have to admire his loyalty to Country Day when there was all the temptation in the world to transfer out with what was a surprising coaching change.

“I always finish what I do, so that is why I decided not to leave,” Sumner said.

Spoken like one of the top players, leaders and character guys in the entire state.

Last Updated: 1/18/2014 7:28:38 PM EST

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