Webb’s quest leads to Bellingham

Former South Kitsap star now a top reserve for Western Washington

Plays basketball, will travel.

Perhaps that’s the most apt description of former South Kitsap star Derrick Webb. He came from a broken home in Seattle and was raised by his brother, Anthony Peterson, who starred at Highline High School and worked with Webb to hone his skills.

“My brother taught me everything I know about basketball,” Webb said. “He was a big inspiration for me when I was younger.”

His journey then took him to Port Orchard in eighth grade, where he moved in with the parents of another former South star, L.P. Neloms, who is his cousin. Webb declined to elaborate about his family issues in Seattle, but said the presence of the Neloms and the Curry family, who he also is related to, in Port Orchard helped his decision. Tionne Curry, who played guard for the Wolves this season, had three older siblings who also played for the team.

“I had a lot of family over there that I knew could support me and help me through the struggles of my childhood,” Webb said. “They helped me, I followed in some of their foot steps and it worked out.”

After helping the Wolves to second- and sixth-place finishes before he graduated in 2005, Webb hoped to team again with 6-foot-8 forward Jake Beitinger at Eastern Washington.

But Webb wasn’t able to qualify academically, so the 6-foot-3 guard headed to Highline Community College, where he helped the Thunderbirds to a 21-9 record and the quarterfinals of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges as a sophomore. He averaged 16.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and was set to sign with Seattle University.

Webb played 26 minutes and scored 10 points Thursday at Seattle University’s Connolly Center, but donned a blue Western Washington jersey in its 73-56 loss against the Redhawks.

He said some of his college credits didn’t transfer from Highline to Seattle University, so he asked to be released from his letter of intent. Shortly after, veteran Western Washington coach Brad Jackson approached him about joining his team.

“I think everything happens for a reason,” Webb said. “I’m glad I chose here, I’m having a lot of fun and the guys here are great.”

Jackson had a scholarship available and came to like Webb during the recruiting process. Of course, he also filled a need within the program.

“We wanted a guy who could shoot it and Derrick certainly can do that,” he said. “He’s also a character guy and really enjoyable to be around.”

Unlike his time at South and Highline, Webb comes off the bench for Western after eights starts earlier in the season. He averages 8.8 points in 22.5 minutes per game for the Vikings, who have a 14-11 record. Most players prefer to start, but Webb said the distinction is irrelevant to him.

“That’s not even what it’s about for me,” he said. “I want to win, so if that’s me coming off the bench or starting, that’s how we’ll do it.”

Jackson said the transition from the community-college level to Division II basketball is a transition and he expects Webb and his teammates to improve next season. Only little-used guard Greg Meier graduates off the team.

Webb, who called his season “a little up and down,” also expects improvement from himself next season. He hopes to see improvement from himself in addition to Curry, whose season might be described in a similar way after South finished 11-10.

“He’s supposed to be the best in the family,” Webb said. “I keep telling him that.”

A general studies major, Webb isn’t quite sure what he wants to do professionally. He prefers an urban atmosphere and would like to settle in the Seattle area, possibly as a basketball coach.

The lure of the game will take him somewhere.