Thursday, September 21, 2017

North Augusta matchup with Strom Thurmond is the AugBball Game of the Week; Plus two key road games on the Georgia side

Follow me Friday night at the @AugBball Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages to get live updates, video highlights, and information from the Game of the Week at North Augusta High between South Carolina's 4th ranked (class 4A) Yellow Jackets and the 7th ranked (class 3A) Strom Thurmond Rebels. It will be my first visit to the South Carolina side of the border this football season.

The Yellow Jackets have won their first four games, including a 42-14 road win last Friday at White Knoll, which beat North Augusta's region rival, 5th ranked South Aiken, earlier this season. The Jackets probably sport the most exciting offense in the area, led by quarterback Landon Washington (8 TD passes and 774 yards through 4 games), running back Derius Gibson (7 rushing TDs and 494 yards), and lightning fast receiver Dejuan Bell (6 TD receptions and 329 yards), who was named player of the week two weeks ago by both WRDW and the Augusta Chronicle after catching three touchdown passes and grabbing two interceptions in a 40-14 win over Lexington.

Strom Thurmond (3-1) will try not to drop a second straight game after losing 26-17 at Emerald last Friday. The Rebels are led by running back Jaquan Edwards, who has already rushed for 8 touchdowns and 645 yards this season. Because of North Augusta's blistering start, few commentators are giving Strom Thurmond a chance. But after last season's 41-38 triple overtime thriller between the two, which the Jackets won, I think both the players and coaches would agree that anything can happen Friday!

Friday's game will not be my last at North Augusta. I plan to return when South Aiken visits on October 13 for a game that, if things play out as expected, could decide the top seed in region 4 of South Carolina's class 4A. That region and Georgia's class 6A, 4A, and 2A regions will be the focus of AugBball's football coverage the next two months. Now let's look at two key non region games on the Georgia side of the border.

Evans (6A) at Baldwin (4A)

The Knights (2-2) visit Milledgeville in a game featuring two promising teams reeling from heart breaking road losses last Friday. Evans came up short (49-48) in overtime at Washington County when the Golden Hawks blocked Evans's extra point after quarterback Damekus Taylor ran for his fourth touchdown of the evening. And Baldwin (3-1) lost 21-16 at Griffin, a top 10 ranked 5A team, when the Braves failed to stop the Bears from scoring a touchdown on their final drive of the game.

The Knights have weapons all over the field. Taylor has accounted for 16 touchdowns, 11 on the ground and 5 through the air, in the season's first four games. The junior has made a huge impact after transferring from Thomson High.

Senior Corey Watkins leads the team in total yardage, gaining 848 yards of total offense as a threat both running from scrimmage and returning kicks and punts. Watkins has found the end zone 7 times, including three times in each of the last two games.

Baldwin has benefitted greatly from the arrival of head coach Jesse Hicks, who returned to the sideline this fall for a second turn at the helm after leaving the same position in 2010. The Braves feature wide receiver Jatavious Harris, a senior who has committed to the University of Tennessee. Baldwin begins region play a week from Friday when Richmond goes to Milledgeville. And the Braves' region schedule really heats up when they face #7 Burke County and #2 Thomson back-to-back on October 20th and 27th.

Burke County (4A) at Effingham County (6A)

Click here to listen to Chris Henry broadcast the game (7:30 kickoff) on 92.9 the Soul Mine

The #7 ranked Burke County Bears will try to improve to 5-0 by doing what their region rival Thomson did during the second week of the season: getting a win at Effingham County. The Rebels overcame a 14-0 first half deficit to hand Burke County a loss in Waynesboro last season, so revenge will be on the minds of the Bears and their loyal fans, who I am certain will make the trip in large numbers.

Photo Credit: Larry Smith

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Augusta University Legends Siler and Sherrill start fast in the new professional season

Garret Siler's Fubon Braves play this week in the Super 8 tournament in Macau (China)
Photo Credit: Onvisa Thewphaingarm

Two Augusta University legends, Garret Siler and Keshun Sherrill, began their 2017-18 professional seasons last week, and it's my goal to make this the first of many updates about their progress and hopefully that of the many other pros with area ties playing around the globe.

Siler, who played for the Phoenix Suns from 2010 to 2012, helped establish Augusta as a division II power by leading the Jaguars to two consecutive NCAA final four appearances. In the process he set the division II field goal percentage single season (78.9%) and career (73.5%) records. Sherrill graduated in May after becoming the all time scoring leader for both Augusta and the Peach Belt Conference. He was named an All-American three times.

Siler, the veteran of this pair, excelled in his first outing with Taiwan's Fubon Braves, averaging 16.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in 4 games last week in the Seri Mutiara Champions Cup tournament in Malaysia. Fubon finished 2-2 in the tournament, which featured teams from 7 different countries and a host of familiar American players, from former NBA great Stephon Marbury to Augusta native Jaleel Roberts. Of course Marbury was a two-time NBA all star. Roberts played his high school ball at Evans before playing in college at UNC-Asheville.

Siler, a 7 footer, was the playoff MVP in Taiwan's Super Basketball League in 2015.

Roberts got off to a good start

Siler's debut was spoiled by another area native's team when NS Matrix, which features former Evans Knight Jaleel Roberts, topped Fubon 100-91 in the tournament's first game.

Jaleel Roberts averaged 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the Seri Mutiara Champions Cup.
Photo Credit: Onvisa Thewphaingarm, which provided extensive tournament coverage, reported that "Jaleel Roberts brought the home crowd to their feet after opening up the scoring on offense and pinning a shot on the backboard on defense." But it was Roberts's teammate Keith Hornsby, who played at LSU, who stole the spotlight from everyone at the tournament by scoring 47 points in that opening round win and averaging more than 40 for the week.

Sherrill has been picking up where he left off

Keshun Sherrill elevates for a three pointer

People who watched Keshun Sherrill electrify the college hoops scene the past four seasons will not be surprised to learn that the 5'8" "superman" has been the leading scorer for his new team, New Heroes Basketball of the Netherlands, in each of the team's preseason games this month. Sherrill scored 23 points in a win, and 18 and 25 in a pair of losses. The team begins its regular season schedule October 10.

As you can see in this promotional video, Sherrill is already the face of New Heroes basketball, no matter his height:

Sherrill's image still towers over Wrightsboro Road on a giant billboard down the road from Augusta University's gym. Hoops fans won't soon forget the impact he made on our town. The highlights from his final season (below) are worth watching again. They include his 33 point outburst at Wichita State that almost single handedly knocked out the nationally renowned Shockers, his march through Peach Belt Conference action on his way to league MVP status, and everything in between.

Look up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane...

The AugBball​ Talk Show with Chad Cook and Will Avery​ Episode 2 (9-19-17)

Learn more about Will's basketball activities at his website. And of course the best way to not miss anything from AugBball is by following on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Show Topics:

1. Will's feedback about Sunday's Girls High School Senior Showcase.

Link to AugBball's report about the showcase:

Reader Question: Why are the area's girls Bball players getting more scholarships than the boys?

2. High School Football's hot teams and stories as we enter the start of region play

Question: Why is there such a big difference in the competitiveness of the Columbia/Richmond County (football) teams and the teams from the surrounding counties of Burke, McDuffie (Thomson), Jefferson, Screven, Aiken (NA and SA)?

Links to AugBball's coverage of weeks 1-5 of the high school football season:

Thomson @ Laney -
Laney @Evans -
Harlem @ Greenbrier -
Richmond @ Greenbrier -

3. College Football:

After Clemson's dominant start, should they be the #1 team and do we have a Golden State vs Cleveland situation in CFB?

#11 Georgia hosts #17 Mississippi State Saturday

4. Bonus NBA talk:

- Can Boston get past Cleveland? Can any team beat the Warriors? How well will the new combo in Houston work?

5. More bonus talk about Will's CSRA Middle School Player Development League​

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jeffcoat, Hamilton, and Williams impress at Sunday's Senior Girls Showcase

Jasmine Sanders (Aquinas) takes it to the basket at Sunday's showcase.

In the interview below, which was recorded Sunday after Will Avery's Girls Senior Showcase at the Old Columbia Middle School, Laney's Jaiden Hamilton has some fun at the expense of her friend Lexi Jeffcoat (Evans), rubbing it in that Jaiden will be seeking her second AND third consecutive state titles during her remaining two high school seasons.

Of course Hamilton was only teasing. Like Jaiden, Lexi's resume speaks for itself. After averaging 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals last season, Jeffcoat enters her senior year as one of the area's most proven players, claiming one of the five spots on GHSA expert Kyle Sandy's recently published All-Augusta Area team. Hamilton also made that list. And these two, who have played together for Avery's Georgia Sting traveling AAU team the past two summers, distinguish themselves in the classroom, too. Jeffcoat sports a 3.5 GPA, an 1150 on her (two part) SAT, and an ACT of 25. Hamilton, a junior, has earned a 3.75 GPA so far, and she looks forward to taking her SAT for the first time this fall.

Sunday's showcase, the second such event Avery has hosted for girls since school began, was loaded with good high school players. (Here is a link to coverage from last month's showcase for underclassmen)  And just like last Sunday, when Avery hosted the Fall 48 Invite for the best high school boys, the college coaches gathered in chairs at half court to evaluate the talent.

College coaches were on hand for Sunday's showcase.

According to Avery, somebody who garnered special attention from those coaches Sunday was Jhessyka Williams, Laney's long and agile senior wing who has contributed greatly to the Lady Wildcats' two recent state championships. Williams joined Hamilton and Jeffcoat on Sandy's all area list along with teammate and Alabama commit De'sha Benjamin and Grovetown's Ayanna Collins.

Other local standouts who participated, and who appear in the footage below, include the following:

Kianni Westbrook, Burke County
Amaya Moore, Westside

Rondaijah Wynn, Josey
Natalie Wilson, Greenbrier
Shania Evans, Midland Valley
Quin'De'Ja Hamilton, Burke County

Friday, September 15, 2017

Greenbrier Routes Richmond to Stay Unbeaten

Defensive end Tarael Hooks anchors a stingy Greenbrier defense.

Everything clicked for Greenbrier Friday night as the Wolfpack routed Richmond 27-6 to pick up a homecoming win and improve to 4-0 for the season.

The defense, which was featured on the front page of Friday's Augusta Chronicle, was fantastic. Greenbrier forced three first half turnovers and prevented the Musketeers from reaching the red zone until the final series of the game when Richmond finally scored to get on the board.

Greenbrier's Zach Azhar forces Mason Cobb to cough up a first half fumble Friday.

In the first half, Greenbrier's Zach Azhar forced a fumble, and Jonathan Cole and Tyler Mullins each grabbed interceptions. Coleman Fleming, Ben Thorpe, Bryce Atchison, and Tarael Hooks all tallied several tackles, but the Wolfpack's defense was a team effort. Several players combined to hold in check Richmond's running attack, which had been unstoppable in the Musketeers' first three wins.

Jonathan Cole (5) grabbed a second quarter interception.

The offense was equally impressive. Quarterback Hayden Harrison engineered two long first half touchdown drives, accounting for most of the yardage either running (32 yards and a touchdown by halftime) or passing (8 completions on 12 attempts). Star running back JQ Brown capped off the first drive with a 5 yard run around the end before Harrison reached the end zone on a 16 yard run with a second and third effort to give Greenbrier a 13-0 lead at intermission.

Quarterback Hayden Harrison completed 11 of 17 passes for 148 yards and ran for a touchdown.

For the game, Harrison's passing numbers were greater than in his first three contests combined. The dual threat quarterback completed 11 of 17 passes for 148 yards after connecting on 11 of 16 attempts for 93 yards in the Wolfpack's first three outings.

The second half featured Brown pounding away for 129 yards and running for his second and third touchdowns of the evening behind Greenbrier's stellar offensive line. In the entire game, Brown rushed for 160 yards on 32 carries. Afterwards I interviewed right tackle Eric Chatman, who leads the O-line and takes pride in the fact that Brown has now piled up 13 touchdowns and 605 yards in the season's first 4 games.

Greenbrier gained 218 yards on the ground against Richmond.

"It really depends on us to make the holes for him and get him up the field," Chatman said of the junior Brown. "That's probably what we take the most pride in, just getting him off the ball and getting him two, three yards every time because that's the hard trenches right there."

Both teams finish the non region portion of their schedule next Friday when Greenbrier (4-0) visits Cross Creek and Richmond (3-1) hosts Grovetown.

The AugBball Talk Show with Chad Cook and Will Avery - Episode 1

The AugBball Talk Show with Chad Cook and Will Avery
Episode 1

Boys HS Bball
0:00 to 3:35
How many players from Sunday’s Fall 48 Invite are likely to be “scholarship players?”

3:35 to 10:20
Discussion several of the “Terrific Ten,” high honorable mention, and “super sophomores” from the event

Link to complete recap and highlights from the Fall 48 Invite -

10:20 to  18:20
Which high school teams will be the best based on what we saw at the Fall 48?

Girls HS Bball
18:20 to 26:13
We describe the girls hoops scene in the area. It’s red hot as last season’s senior class featured 6 D1 signees and 3 D2 signees.

26:13 to 28:20
Information given about Sunday’s unsigned senior girls showcase.

HS Football
28:20 - 31:57
Greenbrier hosts Richmond in a non region battle between 3-0 teams. We give our picks and we also briefly talk about other area games and teams.

College Football
31:57 to the end
We talk about the big Clemson-Louisville game and “the human highlight reel Lamar Jackson.” Will attended last year’s barn burner live!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"Terrific Ten" top player list and more from Will Avery's Fall 48

Timmy Sellers, Glenn Hills

Will Avery's Fall 48 Invite featured 48 of the very best area players from both the Georgia and South Carolina sides of the border. More than 2 out of every 3 players who were invited accepted the challenge and came to compete, so it was very difficult to choose the 10 players who I believed played the best.

  • Below I rank and show highlight videos of AugBball's "Terrific Ten" players from Sunday's games
  • Then I provide the list of players I chose to give "high honorable mention"
  • Finally, I list five "Super Sophomores," who all made a significant impact Sunday. These players have bright futures if they continue to work hard and improve, and I expect them to be difference makers this high school season.
But before showing the lists, I want to share links to media coverage and highlights from the event:

GHSA expert Kyle Sandy featured several top performers from the Georgia side of the border in this Sandy's Spiel article:

WRDW featured the event on Sunday's evening news. The segment, which includes an interview with Will Avery and clips of Tyshon Briscoe (Lakeside) and Donte Justice (Baldwin), can be viewed at this link:

Former Glenn Hills star hooper and current Georgia Southern (full academic scholarship) student Robert Drew provided more than 20 minutes of fun highlight footage from every team. Find the videos in the YouTube playlist at this link:

Finally, the @AugBball Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages are filled with highlights from the event.

Terrific Ten - Fall 48 Invite

1) Timmy Sellers, Glenn Hills; 6'7" Post, CO 2018

2) Tre Gomillion, Aquinas; 6'3" Guard, CO 2018

3) Anthoney Ray, Midland Valley; 6'4" Wing, CO 2018

4) Nazae Baltimore, Aiken; 6'4" Post, CO 2019

5) Donte Justice, Baldwin; 6'0" Guard, CO 2019

6) Kevin Williamson, Aiken; 6'4" Wing, CO 2018

7) Eric Graham, Grovetown; 6'2" Guard, CO 2018

8) Melvin Mckie, South Aiken; 6'0" Guard, CO 2018

9) Calvin Mathis, Aiken; 6'4" Wing, CO 2018

10) D'Juan Griffin, Laney; 6'0" Guard, CO 2018

High Honorable Mention - Fall 48 Invite

Drez McBride, Butler; 6'3" Guard, CO 2018

Donald Henley, Laney; 5'11" Guard, CO 2018

Zayveon Williams, Burke County; 6'2" Guard, CO 2018

PJ Walker, Laney; 6'2" Guard, CO 2018

Nick Tolbert, Grovetown; 6'0" Guard, CO 2018

Super Sophomores - Fall 48 Invite

Dylan Cardwell, Evans; 6'8" Center, CO 2020

Tyshon Briscoe, Lakeside; 6'0" Guard, CO 2020

Christian Chambers, Evans; 6'2" Guard, CO 2020

John Whitehead, Glenn Hills; 6'5" Wing, CO 2020

Chris Williams, Aquinas; 6'5" Post, CO 2020