‘Just want to win’

Wando's Matthew Pegram (44) hauls in a rebound against Hillcrest in the Class AAAA state championship game last season at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia. Gwinn Davis/Special to The Post and Courier

If needed, Wando center Matthew Pegram could be a consistent 20-point scorer for the defending state champions in Class AAAA basketball.

But the 6-10, 250-pound senior doesn’t worry about how many points he scores, not with the talented shooters he has around him. Instead, Pegram focuses on his role as the team’s leader, along with playing defense and grabbing rebounds.

“For me, my main objective everyday in practice is to make sure that we, as a team, work very hard and prepare for every game the same way,” said Pegram, who signed with Wofford College in November. “I just want to win and whatever I have to do to help Wando win games and win another championship, that’s what I do. I want to compete as hard in practice as I do in the games. With that, I feel like it’s my job to hold everyone accountable.

“We have a lot of really good talent on this team and if someone is not putting forth the effort in practice, they probably won’t play much. That’s why we are a good team, because everyone wants to play so everyone works just as hard as I do in practice.”

Pegram’s hard work is paying off. He is averaging 10.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the 12-3 Warriors — the top-ranked AAAA team in the state.

Wando head coach David Eaton says his big man draws plenty of attention from opposing teams, who often play zone defense against the Warriors.

“He gets double-teamed a lot in the paint but one of his best attributes is his ability to pass the basketball,” Eaton said. “He’s a very unselfish player and he can affect a game in a lot of ways. His basketball IQ is off the charts.”

Double-teaming Pegram often backfires on opponents.

“I almost chuckle inside when teams double-team me with the ball,” Pegram said. “I know the talent around me and I know I can kick it out to the open guy and they will make the shots. I don’t feel I have anything to prove as far as being a scorer. I like that I can play a solid overall game.”

Eaton calls Pegram “our best leader” and says his intensity and passion for winning motivates his teammates.

“He has always been a kid that sets high expectations for himself and he’s a competitive kid,” Eaton said. “He plays with intensity and emotion but it’s in a good way. He’s not a negative guy. He just demands that his teammates play as hard as he plays and every player on this team really respects him.”

Pegram will likely become a more proficient scorer on the college level, according to Eaton. The coach says college teams will play more man-to-man defensively, which will allow Pegram to use his offensive skills more.

Though very focused on his final season as a Warrior, Pegram said he’s looking forward to life after high school.

“I am very excited about my opportunity at Wofford, attending a great school and playing basketball for a great coach,” said Pegram, who also considered offers from Charleston Southern, High Point, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State. “I feel like I have prepared myself for the college game but I know I still have so much more work to do.”

Wofford coach Mike Young also knows he is getting a player with unlimited potential.

“Matthew Pegram is bigger than anybody we’ve had. He has great feet, he has great hands and he’ll bloody his nose for you,” Young said. “There are a lot of things about him we love. He’s a great fit for us academically. He’s going to be a heck of a player in our league, we all know that.”