Monday, February 15, 2016

Richmond Academy has hit the big leagues. And the Musketeers belong.

Will Avery watched Richmond fall to class 5A’s top team, Warner Robins, in its region tournament championship game Saturday. After going from that game to Laney’s 3A championship game win over Westside, the former NBA and Duke star told me he was shocked at how much deeper, bigger, and better the 5A competition is than the 3A’s. This is not a knock on 3A’s best teams. Smaller schools are naturally disadvantaged. And as an example, Laney and Westside (two of the state’s top ten teams), have no players taller than 6’2”.

Richmond has entered the big time. And the Musketeers belong. After facing Warner Robins and Marquez Calloway (a future Tennessee Volunteer footballer and the player Avery calls the best player he’s seen in person this season), the Musketeers face Effingham County, a top 10 5A team Tuesday. And if Richmond advances, the Musketeers will hit the road to play Miller Grove, winners of 6 of the last 7 state titles and home of UConn signee and McDonalds All American Alterique Gilbert, as well as Laney transfer Colin Young.

As impressive as the competition is in Richmond’s path, the Musketeers have proven to everybody I know who is following them closely that they are up to the challenge. After Illinois State bound Madison Williams sky-walked through last week’s region tournament, Avery said he hasn’t seen a player that explosive in person this season. calls Richmomd’s first round contest 5A’s “best game” and labels Williams as “one of the best players in east Georgia.”

If you watch Richmond play, it doesn’t take long to understand why they can compete even against the largest and best schools statewide. Williams is more explosive even than the likes of Warner Robins’s Calloway. Nick Roberts (6’7” senior) and Moses Williams (6’6” junior) are a skilled duo inside. Senior Rashad Calloway is as tough as they come. DT Stevens is a dynamic guard (and only a sophomore!). And sixth man Jason Weaver constantly scores at the rim despite his 6’1” frame.

After pushing Warner Robins, the only team to knock Miller Grove out of the playoffs in nearly a decade, Richmond is ready to defend its home court against Effingham County. If they are successful, the trip to Miller Grove will be the Musketeers’ stiffest test yet. It’s a good thing Richmond has all the firepower needed to handle the big time.

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