A little more than three years ago, Rich Bolds saw the future of Timber Creek basketball sitting in the school's lunch room.
His name was Dikemba Amugo. He was a freshman who had never played the game in his life.
"I told him, 'If you work hard, by the time you leave here, you're going to be one of the best shot-blockers and scorers to ever play here,' " Bolds said.
On Friday night, Amugo showed just how far he has come - and just how prophetic his coach was that day in the fall of 2011.
The 6-foot-5 senior dominated the paint and Timber Creek beat Deptford, 54-42, in the first round of the 13th annual James G. Atkinson Holiday Tournament at Rowan College at Gloucester County.
Amugo scored 15 points with nine rebounds despite sitting out the game's final 10 minutes as Bolds emptied his bench with the Chargers in firm command.
"My teammates were setting me up," Amugo said. "They made it easy for me."
Junior guard Randy Bell added 13 points for Timber Creek (2-1), which will face Paulsboro Saturday in the tournament title game.
Senior guard Glenn Abbott scored nine for Deptford (1-3).
Amugo was 6 for 7 from the field and 3 for 4 from the foul line. Four of his field goals were dunks - three in traffic.
"He's everything you want in a player," Bolds said. "He's humble. He works hard. He's great with his teammates. And he's got so much ability."
Amugo said he moved from California to Erial as a 3-year-old. He said his parents, both of whom were born in Nigeria, insisted that he focus on his schoolwork.
"I never played anything," Amugo said. "It was all academics."
Amugo said he was 5-foot-8 as an eighth grader. By the next year, he was 6-foot-2.
"I had a big growth spurt and that's when the coach [Bolds] saw me and told me to try out for the freshman team," Amugo said. "I made the team and I liked it and I just started improving."
Amugo said he worked out this past summer with former Timber Creek and North Carolina-Greensboro star Kyle Hines along with NBA player Jason Thompson, a Lenape graduate.
"I could see the progress I was making," Amugo said. "I kept improving."
Amugo threw down a dunk off a set play at the 0:03 mark, then Bell made a steal and hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, as Timber Creek took a 22-14 lead at halftime.
Amugo scored six points with three rebounds and a block in the third quarter as the Chargers stretched their advantage to 37-23.
Bolds wasn't happy because he thought his team could have done a better job of getting Amugo the basketball in the paint, where he had a big advantage over the undersize Spartans.
"I'm a little disappointed," Bolds said. "We need to do a better job with ball movement and getting him [Amugo] the ball. We went away from that, and that's not how we're going to play."
Despite sitting out the final two minutes of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter, Amugo was the decisive factor in the game.
Amugo said he has begun to draw recruiting interest from a couple of NCAA Division II programs as well as local Division III schools such as Rowan.
"Colleges are sleeping on him," Bolds said. "He's come so far. He's gotten better and better and he's only going to continue to get better.
"I told him he could do this when he was a freshman. But he's the one who has put in the work to make it happen."
Timber Creek 10 12 15 17 - 54
Deptford 8 6 9 19 - 42
TC: Donovan Spencer 2, Randy Bell 13, Justin Thompson 2, Denzel Washington 5, Isaiah Sanders 2, Dikemba Amugo 15, Will Martin 2, Marques Saunders 6, Donald Thomas 2, Caleb Bowser 5.
D: Glenn Abbott 9, Jay Veereen 8, Kevin Clark 7, Zach Chapman 6, Terron Hackley 3, Mike Alliano 3, D'Andre Blue-Eli 4, Joe Barone 2.