CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- To Jon Carpenter, the biggest change in running back Kashuan Haley from 2012 to 2013 brings to mind a move made by one of sports' biggest stars.
"I always tease him because he wears No. 6 like LeBron (James). I told him, 'You don't want to be No. 23 LeBron, the guy who's all about you,'" said Carpenter, Capital's football coach.
For those who haven't tuned in to ESPN at any point in the last four years, James changed his uniform number when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat in 2010. The move paired James with fellow NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade and - depending on who tells the tale - allowed or forced James to be more complementary in his playing style and less of a one-man show.
Haley has worn No. 6 since entering Capital High School, but there is no mistaking that by viewing his role as part of a greater whole, he has simultaneously improved his own performance. Haley (6-foot, 190 pounds) ran for 1,637 yards on 218 carries in 2013, scored 24 total touchdowns and helped the Cougars equal their best postseason finish since 1996.
As a result, Haley was chosen as the Charleston Daily Mail 2013 Kanawha Valley Player of the Year, narrowly edging Hurricane senior utility player Zach Pate (5-8, 173).
Haley's rise to prominence actually came in the second half of the season. Carpenter said that rise was the result of a gut check.
"After we lost to Huntington he got an idea of how to make people around him better, and how to make people around you want to follow you," Carpenter said.
Haley was the only player to win the Gazette-Mail Huddle Player of the Week award more than one time in its inaugural season. He won it three times, twice for performances in blowout wins over Hurricane and again after Capital's 65-14 rout of University in the Class AAA playoff quarterfinals.
Following that Nov. 23 game, Haley spoke of how his success running the football enabled sophomore quarterback Tyrhee Pratt to improve his own effectiveness.
"Anything he says, I'll do it for him to get him into the end zone," Haley said. "I'm not going to be selfish."