Saturday, November 12, 2016

Six players with local ties hit the ground running on the opening night of college hoops

After a five year absence from the area, former Josey standout Kyle Doyle
returned with a bang in Augusta's opening night win.

College basketball's opening night featured more than 20 players with local ties who suited up for NCAA division I and II schools. (And that doesn't even count the dozen or so Augusta University players who led the Jags to a win over Mount Olive!)

Here are four familiar men and two women who have already distinguished themselves playing for their respective colleges less than 24 hours into the 2016-17 season.

Ahmed Hill - Virginia Tech

In doing my homework for the AugBball college hoops preview that featured Aquinas graduate Ahmed Hill, it was obvious to me that sitting out last season was difficult for the 6'4" sharp shooting sophomore guard. But it was exciting to see Ahmed hit the ground running in Virginia Tech's season opening 80-67 win over Maine at home Friday. Hill made 3 of 6 threes, scoring 14 points in 30 minutes of action.

He made Virginia Tech's first basket, a three pointer. And his assist on a Chris Clark three, shown in the first clip of the video below, sparked a 14-6 Hokies' run that gave Virginia Tech its biggest first half lead after Hill made a layup with 5:55 remaining to give the Hokies a 31-19 advantage. Ahmed scored or assisted on 8 of the team's points during that spurt.

Morgan County graduate Tookie Brown almost led Georgia Southern to an upset at NC State

I've heard a lot about Dennis Smith Jr, NC State's fantastic freshman who many believe will bolt for the NBA after this season. But it doesn't surprise me a bit that his debut was nearly spoiled by sophomore Tookie Brown, Georgia Southern's preseason All Sun Belt first team point guard who scored many of his 3,000 plus career high school points against some of Augusta's best teams.

Brown scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the 81-79 road loss. He only made 2 of his 11 three point attempts, but great players like Tookie gladly take responsibility for shouldering the load offensively, whether or not the shots fall, in games like this. From the looks of the highlights below, the ball was in Brown's hands throughout the evening, as I'm sure Eagles coach Mark Byington will continue to prefer it throughout the season.

Josey's Kyle Doyle is a welcome addition to Augusta's roster

The last time I saw Kyle Doyle play in person was in 2012, his junior high school season, when he led Josey to a region tournament championship game win over Frank Booker and Westside. His official return to the area couldn't have gone better as the 6'6" forward scored 15 points off the bench to help lead Augusta University to an 82-67 opening night win over Mount Olive.

Coach Dip Metress and his players were happy to learn Wednesday that Kyle, who couldn't make last week's trip to Wichita State, would be eligible to compete this season. Metress talks about what Doyle brings to the team, and sophomores Deane Williams and Tyvez Monroe tell the story of how Kyle and the players learned he would be suiting up in the video below.

Kwajelin Farrar was nearly perfect in her first college game

Will Avery, who coaches many of the area's top players during the spring and summer, alerted us Friday to Grovetown graduate Kwejelin Farrar's 11 point debut in USC Aiken's 84-78 loss to Carson Newman. The freshman made 4 of 5 field goal attempts and all three of her free throws in 19 minutes of action. She also grabbed 4 rebounds.

Daniel Carr is contributing early at Queens

Midland Valley's former two sport star Daniel Carr is concentrating on basketball only for maybe the first time ever. It's paying off for the freshman, who scored 11 points last Friday in Queens's 75-73 exhibition game upset win over VCU. Carr followed that performance, in which he made 5 of 7 field goals, with 7 points in the Royals' 101-83 win over Armstrong State Friday.

At this time of year, Carr is used to leading teams to state championship games playing quarterback on the grid iron. It's usually December or later when he starts leading his hoops teams towards post season success. Basketball fans are lucky to now get four full seasons out of the dynamic point guard. Queens, which was ranked #6 in NCAA division II according to the Sporting News, takes on Clayton State today. The Lakers are coached by former Paine head coach Jimmy Link, and his roster includes Jaylen Taylor (Laney) and Ti Lewis (Washington County), who scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds Friday in a win over Anderson.

Malia Kency leads Florida Atlantic to a win

Former Briarwood Academy scoring machine Malia Kency led Florida Atlantic with 16 points Friday in an 84-64 win over Florida Memorial. Kency, a junior computer engineering major, made 4 of 9 three point field goals in the win.

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