Savion Helm ranked fourth on the Blue Ridge basketball team in scoring this season despite not being a starter.
The 6-foot-5 senior forward’s presence off the bench was magnified even more last Saturday in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state title game against rival Miller. Helm scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Barons to a 61-53 victory over the Mavericks to claim their second state title in three years.
He drained two free throws with 3.2 seconds left to send the game to overtime. He also was sound defensively and a key cog in the Barons’ full-court press and another active rebounder on the boards.
“My role coming off the bench is to pick the team up,” Helm said. “It’s different than being a starter because you can’t get a feel for the game before you get on the court. It took me a couple of games to get used to it.”
Helm started just one game this season for the Baron, senior night against Bishop Sullivan Catholic, but relished in his role on the team.
“The coaches noticed that I had more freedom coming into the game with the second group,” Helm said.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Helm averaged 9.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and two steals a game this season as the Barons’ sixth man. That production improved in the postseason as Helm scored in double figures in four of the five games he played as Blue Ridge left Virginia State University with its third state title in five years.
“My performances were great to me,” Helm said. “I felt like I [gave] everything I had on the court and did everything in my power I could do. It felt great playing in a college environment. It really gets your juices flowing and brings out the best in you. Grit and not being complacent helped us on both ends of the floor. I rank both of those as my best games in my career.”
Helm’s journey to a state championship started in middle school after he watched the NBA dunk contest and playing pickup basketball with his neighborhood friends.
“I was seeing those guys do the craziest dunks and wanting to do the same thing,” Helm said. “Growing up, I played football and ran track. Basketball became my choice of sport because I was dominating at such a young age.”
Helm joined the Blue Ridge program two years ago and quickly went to work finding his niche with the team. As a junior, he appeared in 28 games and averaged 4.5 points and two rebounds a game.
“Not everyone can play in Coach Cade Lemcke’s offense,” Helm said. “The key to making these offensive plays work is patience and being a player and not a robot. My skill set fits well with the players because you’ll [spot up] at the 3-point line, go down on the block or play in the high post. I can play at all three levels.”
The senior forward said his favorite play is “Oklahoma Savion” which is an isolation play that involves a post setting a ball screen at the top of the key and allowing him to go to create his own shot.
“On every play, I’m either trying to score or trying to get my teammates [open] to score,” Helm said.
The senior forward emulates his playing style after San Antonio Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan and Oklahoma City Thunder swingman Paul George.
“Both players have good three-level games and can fit it around any play on the defensive end,” Helm said. “This season, I just wanted to show that I’m a defensive-minded player. The most underrated part of my game is my ability to get my teammates involved.”
Those abilities have made Helm a wanted commodity among college basketball coaches. He doesn’t have any offers yet, but has received interest from Shenandoah, Eastern Mennonite, Dickinson, Catholic, Richard Bland and Mary Washington.
“The recruiting process is going well,” Helm said. “Coaches like my size, length and ability to get to the rim.”
Away from the court, Helm stays busy with a variety of activities. In school, his favorite subjects are math, English and religion.
The Blue Ridge senior has a fondness for poetry, which helps him with his other passion, rap music. He’s written approximately 100 rap songs, although he’s yet to record them.
In his spare time, Helm enjoys hanging out with his friends and refers to himself as a “straight gamer-head.”
“I love playing Fortnite, NBA 2K, FIFA, Madden, Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto,” he said.
Forty-eight hours removed from his team’s amazing run to a state title, Helm took some time to reflect on the journey.
“This season was all about owning the moment and fighting through adversity,” he said. “We, as a team, didn’t take any moments for granted. We had multiple games this year where we were down and had to fight to get back in the game.”
Some of his fondest memories include the trips with the team, including the trip to England to represent the United States in a tournament. Aside from the competition, the team visited numerous historic attractions and even traveled to Old Trafford to see Manchester United play an English Premier League match.
But that experience couldn’t top bringing home a state championship for the Barons.
“It meant a lot leaving my high school career as a champion,” Helm said. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet. It seems unreal, but I think when we get those rings, I’m pretty sure it will sink in and become a reality. I’ll always remember the laughs and giggles we had as a team and all the team bonding stuff we did.”