Agudio Embraces Canton, Leadership Role

Last spring – in the first year of the franchise’s existence – the Canton Charge were one game away from the NBADL Finals. Only three members of that squad have returned this year – and they know what it takes to take the team one step farther.

One of those players is sharp-shooter Antoine Agudio.

In a year that saw the Charge burst onto the D-League’s scene, Agudio also announced his presence with an exclamation point – leading the league in three-point shooting by over 75 percentage points. And the 6-3, 190-pounder is back at it against this season.

As the Charge try to find their footing early in the campaign, Agudio shook off a pair of subpar shooting performances while he worked through an ailing knee to get back among the D-League’s top 15 among three-point marksman – shooting just over 43 percent.

And while some of those leader’s big numbers will surely plummet, the odds say that Agudio’s will either maintain or improve. Over the course of his college career and four years in the D-League, the 27-year-old combo guard has never shot below 41 percent from beyond the arc.

The unassuming Agudio explains how he’s become such a dead-eye shooter from long distance.

“Basically, it’s just pick your spots,” said Agudio. “Some guys fall in love with the three and they just want to shoot it from everywhere. But me, I know where my points are going to come from and what spots I like. So in practice and when I work out, I take extra shots from those certain spots that I get my points from. And that’s how I’ve become a great shooter.”

In college, Agudio’s numbers went up in each of his four years at Hofstra and he capped his senior season with a 22.7 scoring average. At one point during his final year, he led the nation in scoring. And when he wrapped up his career in Hempstead, Long Island, he was the school’s all-time scoring leader.

Collegiately, he was asked to be the squad’s scorer. In Canton, he’s asked to be the team’s shooter. Anyone who’s ever played hoops understands the difference. And Agudio is comfortable with either role.

“I can be both – it just depends on my role on the team,” he explained. “In college, I was a scorer. And I knew, coming into the next level, I would have to be more of a combo guy – knock shots down and try to set people up. I’ve been trying to work on that. It’s a tough transition from being a scorer to being a 1.”

After a record-breaking career at Hofstra, Agudio went undrafted in 2008. He suited up with Milwaukee’s Summer League squad in 2010, but he spent his first two seasons with Albuquerque – averaging almost 15 ppg before making the move to central Stark County.

As a native New Yorker, it’s taken Agudio some time to get used to life in Northeast Ohio. But now he’s taken to Canton and its fans just as they’ve taken to him.

“It’s a lot different, but the experience is really good,” smiled the pride of Huntington Station, N.Y. “The people are great – the fans are really great. In Albequerque, we had a few good fans. But here, it’s like everybody’s into it, and the experience is kind of overwhelming.

“I had never been to Canton,” added Agudio, laughing: “I actually didn’t even hear of it, you know, until I met Keith McLeod and he showed me the ropes and everything around here. And I can get used to it. I got used to it last year, some of the restaurants and places – and especially the Football Hall of Fame.”

Now an honorary resident, Agudio wants to get the Charge back to the postseason – and a couple steps beyond once they get there.

“We’re very talented. We have a couple young point guards, but they can really play. They’re getting used to and adjusted to the game – game-by-game. And I think we’re going to be really good, (but) putting it together at the end, that’s what counts.”

One difficulty in the D-League concerns constant player turnover. It’s simply the nature of the business. Last year, the Charge saw Christian Eyenga, Manny Harris and Luke Harangody bouncing back and forth between Canton and Cleveland.

“We dealt with that all last year – and it made us stronger, I think,” said Canton’s combo guard. “It’s like any sport: when one guy gets hurt, the next guy has to pick up the slack. We were fortunate to have guys that can play. And I just told everybody that wasn’t playing, ‘Always be ready because you never know.’”

A year stronger and more experienced, Alex Jensen’s squad looks to build off last year’s success. And the club’s three-point sniper has all the confidence that they can.

“Last year, we just clicked on all cylinders,” concluded Agudio. “Everybody knew their role, we know what we like to do and we gelled very well together. This team now – this team is talented, but everybody, whatever piece they have, they just need to bring it to the table. And it’s like a puzzle. We just need to put it all together like we did last year – and I think we can be really good.”

Fans can stay up-to-date on team news by following the team @CantonCharge on Twitter here and on Facebook here.