This will be the first of my many weekly reports about what happened in hoops action over the past week and things to look forward to for the upcoming week. I will discuss High School hoops, College hoops, and give an update on players that are playing at the Collegiate and Professional level who have ties to the CSRA. Enjoy!
High School Hoops
Let's start with a team that I think has a chance to win their 2nd State title in 3 years. Under the tutelage of Buck Harris in his first year as Head Coach, the Laney Wildcats have started the season 3-0 with all of their wins coming away from Norman Bonner Gymnasium. They were impressive this week, picking up two wins over the weekend in the 100 Black Men of Augusta Thanksgiving Classic, including a 94-58 victory over North Augusta. Look for Laney to be a much better team and a title contender come March. Loyal Wildcat fans, put on your shades because the future is bright on the boulevard!
Speaking of a bright future, the area's best player, Ahmed Hill of Aquinas, took center stage in the nightcap Friday in the Thanksgiving Classic. Unfortunately, Hill would come up short, as the feisty Butler Bulldogs avenged their loss from a week ago in the ABR Tip-Off Classic to Aquinas by winning 67-64. This game proved the parity in the area this year. And if teams don't come to play teams can lose on any given night. Both Butler and Aquinas are searching for an identity as they have both lost leaders from last year's teams. Star players Hill and Don Coleman (Butler) will be exciting to watch throughout the season.
My surprise team so far is the Evans Knights. The Knights are off to a 5-0 start and are looking very good thus far. Evans got wins against Josey and Cross Creek over the weekend in the Thanksgiving classic. There were a lot of people, including me, wondering how the Knights would fare without point guard and leader Damion Foreman (moved to North Carolina). Coach Kenny has been using three point guards successfully while wings Kameron Mason and Patrick Lawrence have come into their own. I know it's early but Evans looks to give Coach Kenny another 20 win season. The Knights have a big test Tuesday night as they host N. Augusta who is in need of a win.
Moving along to the most underrated team and one fans should come out and watch: the GAIS Eagles. Ok maybe I'm biased as I am a part of the Eagles' unique program. We have a really good group of players and we play the most challenging schedule of any team in the CSRA. The Eagles traveled to Columbia, SC and returned with a victory over Heath Wood Hall (SC) this past week.
That wraps up my discussion about the teams. I can not end without recognizing a player who put on a show during the Thanksgiving Classic, and we have come to this. My player of the week award goes to Darius Williams of Josey. Williams was spectacular over the weekend on his way to scoring 44 points against Evans and 41 versus Aquinas. Williams is one of the best players in the area. During the region tournament of his Freshman campaign, Williams had some impressive outings that led us to believe he would rise to stardom in his sophomore season. Last season did not go as expected but I look for Williams to soar this season and provide excitement for the Josey faithful. Come on Darius. Give the people what they want!
It was a great week in College basketball, starting with a city rivalry. The GRU Jaguars took on the visiting Paine Lions in the city's biggest cat fight. Paine controlled the 1st half as they went into the break leading 39-35. But the 2nd half would belong to GRU as they prevailed 80-76. K.J Sherrill scored 23 points to lead the Jags and Ronell Crockett added 20. For the Lions, Kedric Taylor accomplished a rare feat posting a triple double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. This was the Jaguars 10 consecutive victory over the Lions.
In other College hoops, 21st ranked Memphis upset 5th ranked Oklahoma State as they held pre-season all-american Marcus Smart to 12 points on 4-13 shooting. The 4th ranked Arizona Wildcats hung on to beat my 6th ranked Duke Blue Devils 72-66 Friday night at Madison Square Garden. Just like in College football (#4 Auburn beat #1 Alabama 34-28), the most surprising result of the weekend came from the State of Alabama. The University of Alabama-Birmingham shocked the North Carolina Tar Heels 63-59. Former Butler High School standout C.J Washington contributed 6 points and 8 rebounds in 30 minutes of action for UAB.
CSRA College and Professional Players Update
Reggie Middleton (Glenn Hills) is currently playing Professionally in England for the Cheshire Phoenix. His team went 1-1 last week as Middleton averaged 17.5ppg and 10.0apg while shooting 50% from the field. For the season Middleton has averages of 21ppg and 5.6apg while shooting 51% from the field. Cheshire is 4-8 on the season and currently are in 9th place.
Garret Siler (ARC/GRU) is currently playing Professionally in China for the Jiangsu Dragons. The Dragons were 1-2 on the week and Siler averaged 12ppg and 6.3rpg. On the season Siler is averaging 17.3ppg 10.4rpg 1.5bpg while Jiangsu is 2-6 and in 15th place.
C.J Washington (Butler) is in his junior year at Alabama-Birmingham. C.J led his team to a 2-0 record last week with wins over Florida A&M and North Carolina. Over those 2 games he averaged 13ppg 8rpg. On the season Washington has averages of 15.5ppg and 7.8rppg while shooting 54% from the field and 42% from the 3 point line. UAB is 6-2 on the season.
Frank Booker (Westside) is in his Freshman season at Oklahoma. The Sooners went 2-0 last week with victories over Arkansas Little Rock and Mercer. Booker averaged 4ppg and 2rpg on the week for the 6-1 Sooners. For the season Booker is averaging 4.2ppg.
Rod Hall (Laney) is in his junior year at Clemson. Hall led his team to a 1-1 record last week. The starting Tiger point guard posted averages of 11ppg and 4.5apg on the week. On the season Hall's numbers are 10.9ppg and 2.1apg. Hall is shooting 51% from the field, 89% from the free throw line, and has a staggering 4 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. Clemson is 7-1 on the season.
Robert Turner (Aquinas/Laney) is in his junior year at Texas Tech. Turner averaged 11ppg and 2.3apg as the Red Raiders went 2-1 last week. On the season Turner has averaged 11.4ppg and 2.8apg. Texas Tech is Currently 6-2.
Alisha Gray (Washington County) is in her Freshman season at North Carolina. Gray had a solid week as the Lady Tar Heels went 2-1 and she averaged 12ppg and 4rpg. The Lady Tar Heels are 6-2 on the season.
Khadijah Cave (Laney) is in her Freshman season at Baylor. The Lady Bears were idle last week. Cave has averaged 5.8ppg and 6.5rpg while shooting 52% from the field on the season. The Lady Bears are currently 6-0.
Notable Games This Week
5pm: GAIS MS 1, MS 2, BV South vs HALO (Athens,GA) @ Aquinas
5pm: Laney @ Glenn Hills
5pm: North Augusta @ Evans
7:30pm Keenan (SC) @ Aquinas