Thursday, November 5, 2015

AugBball's 10 things: Nov 6, 2015

1) First look at Augusta University

The Augusta University Jaguars 2015-16 team is a fascinating group. Returning All American Keshun Sherrill is the best and most exciting player we'll see in person this season.
See his "AugBball Player Profile" here.

Freshman Aaron Byrd scored 14 in
Augusta's first exhibition game.
Link to game report:
Augusta vs All Army
The rest of the team is relatively young. In its first exhibition game, three freshmen made significant contributions. Aaron Byrd and Jashawn Brooks scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, to add to Sherrill's 29 point burst.

And the team is dotted with Augusta raised talent. Brooks was the senior captain of last year's 29-2 Laney Wildcats. The sharpshooter reached three final fours as a starter on the wing.

Senior transfer Tommie Williams starred for Richmond Academy and also carried the Musketeers deep into state playoff action. He scored 9 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in Sunday's exhibition game.
Augusta's local connection: Brooks (left),
Fields (center), Williams (right)

And sophomore Tamyrik Fields, who played at Aquinas in high school, looks ready to build on a solid freshman campaign.

The Jags play another exhibition game before everything starts to count. November 14 (4 P.M. at Christenberry Fieldhouse) is the inaugural "Legends Game," a game between the current Jags and a group of former players. I'll coach the former players. I suppose I'll need to put my camera down for that!

2) Taylor and Moore meet in Connecticut

It should surprise no one that Jaylen Taylor, a 6'7" Tampa University freshman, threw down a two handed tip dunk in his team's first exhibition game, an 88-72 loss at national powerhouse UConn. Jaylen scored 4 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in 14 minutes of action. The Laney graduate made quite a name for himself the past few seasons flying through the lane and over defenders, as you can see in the video below.

Taylor wasn't the only Augusta native participating in Connecticut Sunday. Ricky Moore, a 1995 Westside graduate, is an assistant coach at UConn. In 1999, Ricky starred on the Huskies' first of four national championship teams. He probably had the most impressive high school basketball career of any player in our area's history as a four year starter who led Westside to a state championship and the #9 spot in USA Today's 1995 ranking of the nation's best high school teams.

3) More from Laney's Class of 2015

Brooks and Taylor weren't the only graduates from Laney's class of 2015 who showed promise early in their freshman campaigns. Jervon Walker scored 15 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and threw down a 2 handed alley-oop dunk in his first game with the Mott Bears, a 112-84 win.

And Aliyah Collier started Clemson's first exhibition game, tallying 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists. That is an impressive stat line for a freshman in the ACC. It brings to mind her last stat line at Laney... But first let's watch maybe my favorite video from last season, which I recorded off Georgia Public Television's live broadcast of last season's Lady Wildcat state championship:

A live interview can be difficult for an 18 year old. But she nailed it! And the stat line on the bottom of the screen... Well in case you can't read it, here it is: 24 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 steals. She made 16 of 20 free throw attempts. No wonder she was my favorite high school player, boys and girls included, last season.

4) Webb appears to be an NBA draft prospect

It seems like every few days I see something saying James Webb is a possible NBA draft choice. The 6'9" junior who is a former Curtis Baptist Crusader and current Boise State Bronco, scored 11 points and tallied 8 rebounds per game last season. His Broncos play at 12th ranked Arizona November 19. I have that game circled on my calendar.

5) Richmond's Williams will be a Redbird

In my first "AugBball's 10 things" post, I noted the college commitments of Laney teammates Zep Jasper (College of Charleston) and Christian Keeling (Charleston Southern). Madison Williams has joined them as the third player from our area to commit to a division I college, Illinois State University.  The Redbirds are getting an elite athlete with a nice stroke.  I look forward to seeing Madison's Richmond Musketeers play three consecutive Tuesdays in December against Laney (Dec 1), Glenn Hills (Dec 8), and Westside (Dec 15). These early season matchups pit 3A (our area's strongest region) teams against my preseason pick for our area's best 5A team.                     

6) Columbia County's Youth Development

After coaching in Gerald White's middle school all star game last Spring, watching Team Power's 2019 team last summer, and following Columbia County's middle school action recently, I am wondering if Columbia County is gaining an edge on producing the area's best players.  Richard Crawford (freshman, Greenbrier); Kalen Williams (freshman, Lakeside); Cameron Cabarrus (freshman, Evans); Legend Barrett (freshman, Greenbrier); Chris Williams (8th grader, Grovetown), Christian Chambers (8th grader, Columbia); and Ricky McGhee (7th grade, Grovetown) are all as good as anyone I've seen area wide in their respective classes.

But Richmond County has dominated area basketball for as long as I can remember. So it's possible I am mistaken. I'll get a much better read starting this Monday when I visit Langford Middle School to see the Lions host Hornsby in my first look this season at middle school basketball outside Columbia County.

7) More AugBball coverage schedule details

I recently released this "AugBball Coverage Preview," which outlines the key November and December, non league games that jumped off the page when I reviewed the schedules of the teams I'll follow. And here is my actual AugBball calendar for the month of November. This schedule is subject to change at any moment without notice. Feel free to make suggestions. I welcome and appreciate feedback!

8) Happy I stumbled into covering the middle schools

This is a video playlist of the three middle school games I covered at the end of October.

One week ago I posted the AugBball Coverage Preview. I mapped out the season and made plans to follow almost 30 teams. Hours later I followed my friend Will Avery's advice and watched Grovetown Middle open its season against Columbia Middle. I enjoyed it so much I decided to add the (Columbia County and Richmond County) middle school teams to my schedule. So although I don't always make detailed plans, it seems that when I do, I like to immediately change them. But hopefully that helps keep things interesting.

My middle school plans are aided by the fact that their schedules start early. The high schools and colleges don't play regular season games until mid November so I aim to get up to speed with the young AugBballers in the next few weeks.

9) A chance to make a splash

I started my preseason hoops coverage ranking the top 11 high school teams in my coverage area. Two teams I didn't place in that grouping, but have early season chances to prove they belong, are Greenbrier and Aquinas. Greenbrier's high scoring senior duo of Justen Hartfield and Jakob Nelson give Casey Heckathorn's group the experience and firepower needed to rebound from last season's disappointing showing.

Aquinas's Tre Gomillion had the best fall league of any player competing. Gomillion and Hephzibah transfers Gerald Merriweather and Cameron Gardner, all sophomores, form a promising young trio.

The Wolfpack and the Fighting Irish face Laney, my pick for the area's best team, at the Wolfpack Challenge at Greenbrier November 20 and 21, respectively.

10) Steph Curry. Enough said.

I just don't feel right about posting 10 things about basketball without making one of them about the most skilled player I have ever seen, Mr. Steph Curry, who is on quite a roll in the association. I think we can all agree to make him an honorary AugBballer!

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