Local News

Curry's Arrest Saddens, Disappoints Friends, School Officials

Posted February 4, 2004

— JamesOn Curry is in the basketball history books as North Carolina's career high-school scoring leader.

Wednesday, he was trying to beat a record he does not want -- the criminal kind.

Curry was pulled out of class at Eastern Alamance High School Wednesday morning and greeted by sheriff's deputies in a district-wide drug sting.

"Our combined efforts today must send a message to our community -- we will not tolerate drugs on our campuses," Alamance-Burlington School Superintendent Jim Merrill said. "We will not look the other way, regardless of how painful those actions become."

Investigators arrested nine students at Eastern Alamance High School and dozens of students countywide in the undercover sting.

"I talked to some of them and tried to tell them that they didn't need to be doing it," said Eastern Alamance student B.J. Poole, who identified himself as Curry's friend. "I guess my words weren't heard."

There were 49 arrests in all. Curry's name stood out because he's a two-time All-State basketball player with a scholarship to play at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill next season.

"It's sad," Poole said, "because he had so much potential and everything, and now, who knows if he's going to be able to fulfill that potential he had?"

UNC coach Roy Williams said Wednesday he was

not ready to make a decision regarding Curry's status

with the Tar Heels.

When he first arrived in Chapel Hill to succeed Matt Doherty -- the coach who signed Curry -- Williams said he would honor Curry's scholarship offer. He may have changed his mind after Wednesday.

"When the time comes that I have to make a decision, I'll make it," Williams said.

Merrill said the arrests were prompted by three years of surveys with parents and teachers, indicating a growing drug problem in the district.

Five months ago, undercover investigators inserted themselves into each of the county's six high schools. They went to class, did homework and bought drugs -- mostly marijuana, but some cocaine, and Ecstasy, too.

Curry was released on bond Wednesday afternoon.

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