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Local Sports Archives for 2021-03

Alabama Basketball: Hoops Recruiting Update

Alabama Basketball:

Hoops Recruiting Update


By: Drew DeArmond


What a run thus far in Year Two under Nate Oats & University of Alabama Men’s Basketball: 26 wins. First SEC Regular Season title since 2002. First SEC Tournament Title since 1991. First Sweet 16 since the Elite 8 run in 2004 & more to come. 


Sweet 16 Match-up vs UCLA 

When: tonight at 6:15 pm on TBS

Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse Butler University 

MVP: Jaden Shackelford 


It’s an exciting time and the future is very bright as well. The recruiting class is currently ranked 17th in the 24/7 composite & could move into the top 5 if another piece or two is added. Here are the three early signees:


Prospect: JD Davison 


Position: Point Guard


Rating: Consensus top 10 National Prospect as ranked by 24/7 Sports, Rivals and ESPN. Rated Five Stars in addition to the top point guard in the 2021 class and finished a strong senior season with a third straight 2A Final Four birth & MVP Performance in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star game with 35 points, 12 rebounds & 8 assists. The 6-3 Uber athletic guard has also been named the MaxPreps Alabama Player of the Year after averaging 32.4 points, 10.9 rebounds along with 4.7 assists. Davison was also announced for the 2021 American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championship roster recently. The 10th annual event features 24 high schoolers and will air April 4 on CBS at 12:30 p.m. CT from Franklin Central High in Indianapolis.




Prospect: Jusaun Holt


Position: Small Forward/Wing


Rating: Consensus 4-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports. Holt was recently named the Class A Georgia High School Player of the Year by the GHSA.

The following was written by Hoopseen’s Brianna Patton after St. Francis, led by Holt, defeated Greenforest 65-63 in early March to reach the Class A Private School Final Four: “Jusaun Holt is Special. This was the first time I have seen Holt play since the HoopsGiving event in November and man was I impressed. The Alabama signee made a ton of huge plays for the Knights that led to their win, finishing with 29 points and 13 rebounds. At 6-foot-6, he has tremendous size that enables him to score in a plethora of ways. He is crafty off the dribble, can shoot it from deep range, and has a lot of bounce. The thing I like most about his game is the way he defends and crashes the boards. You do not see many "scorers" play both ways with a high motor. That activity level he plays with is going to help a lot as he transitions to the next level.”




Prospect: Langston Wilson


Position: Power Forward


Rating: Consensus 4-star prospect as rated by Rivals and 24/7 Sports, who has Wilson tabbed as one of the top TWO Juco prospects in the United States and #1 Power Forward in Junior College Basketball at Georgia Highlands College.

Wilson, whose senior season is still underway, has a very unique story as previously profiled on TI. Wilson was diagnosed with Marfane Syndrome, which is an inherited disorder that affects connective tissue-the fibers that support and anchor your organs and other structures in your body. It most commonly affects the heart, eyes, blood vessels and skeleton. His father, Ron, a former center at Villanova, was stricken with Marfane after the conclusion of his basketball career. Consequently, Langston, also diagnosed around age 12, was unable to compete in organized basketball during his high school career at Prendergast Catholic High School in Philadelphia. Upon being cleared shortly after graduation, Wilson was discovered and signed by Georgia Highlands located in Rome, Georgia, where he averaged 10.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in garnering GCAA All-Freshman and Honorable Mention All-Region honors.

The 6-9 215 pound power forward led his 

team to a 24-8 overall mark and a 13-3 conference finish in the Georgia Collegiate Athletics Association before reaching the conference title game.




Prospects to Watch in the Coming Weeks:


After talking to connected hoops sources in the last few days the two most likely additions to the Crimson Tide roster are:


Charles Bediako, 6-11 220 IMG Academy, who is a consensus 5-star top 30 player in the country. Before transferring state-side for his senior season Bediako prepped at Andrews Osborne Academy in Ontario, Canada, playing beside current Tide freshman big man Keon Ambrose-Hylton. He has been considered an Alabama lean for several months now and has cut his list to five schools: Bama, Michigan, Ohio State, Duke & Texas. With Shaka Smart leaving for Marquette, the Longhorns are likely out. Very likely the top two right now are the Crimson Tide & Wolverines, who could meet in the elite 8 on Tuesday. I would still give Nate Oats & staff an edge as of today, especially with how the season has unfolded in addition to having fellow Canadians Ambrose-Hylton & Josh Primo. This would vault the 2021 class into the top 5 nationally if/when Bediako signs in April.


Dave Briski, who coached Bediako at International Sports Academy at Andrews Osborne, on the big man’s upside and skill set:


“Charles is the ideal 5 in the modern-day game because of his length and athleticism and his continually improving ability to stretch the floor,” Briski said.

“His speed is what sets him apart from other guys at his position. Once he consistently uses it in transition and in two-man actions on the perimeter, he will be in a class of his own.”




Nimari Burnett, who entered the transfer portal in early January leaving Texas Tech, is a former five star guard & McDonald’s All-American. The 6-4 190-pound combo guard was a top 25 prospect in the 2020 class out of Prolific Prep & chose the Red Raiders over Alabama, Oregon, Michigan & others. Since entering the portal, the Illinois native has been linked to several schools, including the home state Illini, the previously mentioned Crimson Tide & Ducks, plus USC, Vanderbilt, Auburn, & recently added LSU. Right now the consensus top three according to sources are Alabama, LSU & Illinois. The debate seems to be whether the top two are the Crimson Tide and LSU or Illinois but the common denominator is Alabama, who seems to be the favorite right now. 


Alabama is losing four key seniors following this season in John Petty, Herbert Jones, Alex Reese & Jordan Bruner. Should Burnett commit/sign in early April along with Bediako, the Alabama roster would be one over scholarship-wise at 14 heading into next season with what would be a five-man group. This would mean attrition is likely either via turning pro (unlikely at this time but things can change) or someone entering the transfer portal, which is the most likely outcome.




What about Penn State Transfer Myreon Jones?


The 6-3 180 guard out of Huffman High School in Birmingham played for the Vikings & head coach Steve Ward before transferring to Lincoln Academy in Suwanee, Ga, for his senior season. He then signed with Penn State & has been a 3-year starter, named honorable mention All-Big Ten the last two years. During his junior season this year Jones averaged 15.3 points per game shooting nearly 40% from 3-point land. Since entering the portal in mid-March, the Birmingham native, who would have two years of eligibility remaining, has been in contact with Alabama & Auburn in addition to Ole Miss, Arkansas, TCU, and UCF among others. Unless something changes the word is Jones will not wind up at Alabama at this time according to a well-connected hoops recruiting source.

NCAA Sweet 16: UCLA vs Alabama preview

NCAA Sweet 16: UCLA vs Alabama preview

If the Alabama Crimson Tide has their way on Sunday, the clock will strike midnight, and the Cinderella story for the UCLA Bruins will come to a screeching halt. Bring some ear plugs, just in case. The screeching of tires is becoming a common theme for anyone unlucky enough to run into Alabama coach Nate Oats’ defense. 

But then again, the Bruins have been the punch-drunk team that takes a licking and keeps on ticking. They lost their five-star recruit, Daishen Nix, before the season even started, and then senior guard Chris Smith, arguably the team’s best player, went down with a torn ACL back in January. 


When it rained, it poured for UCLA coach Mick Cronin. 


And yet, the Bruins still won enough games to secure a play-in spot in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament. They now find themselves in a Sweet 16 matchup with Alabama and literally two wins away from a trip to the Final Four. The Bruins are broken, battered and vulnerable at this point, but they’re also very, very dangerous. 


They came out swinging against Michigan State, BYU and Abilene Christian. 

Alabama will come into this game as 5-point favorites after obliterating Maryland in the second round. Not even the world’s best meteorologist could have predicted the Crimson Tide raining 16 3-pointers from beyond the arc. The Alabama team that showed up to play against the Terrapins could have beaten any team in the country that night. 


They scored 96 points and shot 48.5 percent from long distance. What’s not to like after a performance like that?


This game could be won or lost on UCLA’s perimeter defense. Can they consistently contest shots and run Alabama’s snipers off the 3-point line? If the answer to that question is no, the Bruins can count on getting pounded like Maryland. The odds aren’t in their favor with the team allowing an average 35.1 percent shooting from deep when on the road. 


Speaking of defense, Alabama is putting opposing offenses in a phone booth. They are suffocating opponents and severely limiting the number of clean looks at the basket. It would help if Herbert Jones, a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award, avoids early foul trouble and stays on the floor. He was limited to only 17 minutes against Maryland, and the Crimson Tide still rolled to a 96-77 victory. But they’re going to need him as a defensive enforcer if they hope to make a deep run in the tournament. 


UCLA isn’t shooting the ball nearly as well as Alabama, but Johnny Juzang is a particularly dangerous hot-hand playmaker that could buck the odds. The Pac-12 magic is alive and well for the Bruins, and it’s going to take a two-way effort for the favorited Crimson Tide to topple them, much less cover the spread. 


But it’s also hard to bet against Alabama at this point. 

Just by looking at them, you wouldn’t know it’s a program that hasn’t been to the Sweet 16 since 2004—smack-dab in the middle of the Mark Gottfried era. The unwavering confidence, streaky shooting and shutdown defense has this Alabama team looking like a championship contender. 


It’s a team hell-bent on snuffing out the Cinderella story and carving their own spot in NCAA history. 

Charles Barkley Final Pour Contest Presented by Redmont Distilling and Redstone Pawn


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Skyline Captures Their First Ever Girls State Basketball Championship

Class 1A Girls’ State Championship: Skyline 54, Marion County 41
   BIRMINGHAM – Skyline High School jumped out to a quick lead in the first half and posted a 54-41 victory over Marion County Friday to claim the Vikings’ first state basketball title.
     The Class 1A girls’ state finals was one of  four champions being crowned at the 99th AHSAA State Basketball Championships  at Bill Harris Arena. The Class 3A champions were decided earlier in the day and the 1A boys’ finals were set to close out the day’s slate at 4:30 p.m.
     The Vikings (30-7), coached by Ronnie McCarter, led 17-10 after the first quarter and 36-20 at the half. However, Marion County (29-8), coached by Scott Veal, cut the lead to nine late in the third quarter but went on a scoring drought in the fourth quarter not making another bucket until 3:33 left in the game. By then, Skyline had built a 53-38 lead.
    Senior Gracie Stucky led the Vikings with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists to be named MVP of the 1A state tourney. Grace Rowell also had 17 points, nine rebounds, five steals, three blocked shots, two assists and was 7-of-7 at the free-throw line. Lexie Stucky contributed six points and seven rebounds.
    Pacing the Red Raiders was junior Trinity Metcalf with 18 points, 13 rebounds and two steals. Cara Sullivan had nine points and Serinity Metcalfe, Trinity’s younger sister, had five points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists.
      Unbeaten Autaugaville meets Belgreen in the last game of the day Friday in the Class 1A boys’ finals at 4:30. Class 2A girls’ and boys’ championship games will be held Saturday at 9 and 11:30 a.m., respectively, to close out the 2021 state basketball tourney.
    All championship games are being live-streamed over the NFHS Network by AHSAA TV partner WOTM TV and broadcast live over the AHSAA Radio Network.
Class 1A Girls’ All-Tournament Team
Gracie Stucky, Skyline (MVP); Gracie Rowell, Skyline; Serinity Metcalfe, Marion County; Trinity Metcalfe, Marion County; Timya Thurman, Linden.


Fyffe Tops Montgomery Catholic for the 3A Boys Basketball Championship

Class 3A Boys’ State Championship: 
Fyffe 49, Montgomery Catholic 43

      BIRMINGHAM – Fyffe High school rode the inside-outside combination of Parker Godwin and Brody Dalton to the Red Devil’ first-ever AHSAA state basketball championship beating Montgomery Catholic 49-43 in the finals Friday at Bill Harris Arena.
    The victory capped an incredible season – that following Fyffe’s first Class 3A state football title December – over the same opponent. The Knights (21-6) and Red Devils (27-6) became the  first teams in AHSAA state history to play for the state titles in both sports in the same school year against each other.
    Godwin had a game-high 21 points, two assists, two steals and four rebounds to earn Class 3A state  tournament MVP honors for the Red Devils. His heroics also put him in some tall company. His mother (Jana Simmons) scored more than 3,000 points in her high school basketball career at Fyffe before moving the Jacksonville State where she played basketball and softball.
    Dalton, who played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic last December, muscled in 12 points in the win over Catholic and finished with a double-double hauling in 11 rebounds. He also blocked three shots. Micah Johnson also had 11 points and seven rebounds, and Michael Works scored only two points, but rebound and put-back basket at the end of the third quarter gave Fyffe a 31-27 lead heading into the fourth period.
     The Knights (21-6), coached Michael Curry, were paced by sophomore guard Johntarius Green. He scored 19 points, had five steals and two 3-pointers. T.J. Dudley and Myles Butler chipped in eight points each. Dudley also had six rebounds.
      Fyffe head coach Neal Thrash announced his retirement from coaching after the game. In 28  seasons, he has compiled a 559-261 overall head-coaching record. 
      The Class 3A girls’ and boys’ finals tipped off Friday’s slate of championship finals at the 99th AHSAA State Basketball Championships being held at the Birmingham CrossPlex’s Bill Harris Arena. Class 1A’s two championship games close our Friday’s games. Marion County faces Skyline in the girls’ title game at 2 p.m, and unbeaten Autaugaville meets Belgreen in the boys’ finals at 4:30. Class 2A girls’ and boys’  championship games will be held Saturday at 9 and 11:30 a.m., respectively, to close out the 2021 state basketball tourney.
    All championship games are being live-streamed over the NFHS Network by AHSAA TV partner WOTM TV and broadcast live over the AHSAA Radio Network.
Class 1A Boys’ All-Tournament Team
Parker Godwin, Fyffe (MVP); Brody Dalton, Fyffe; T.J. Dudley, Montgomery Catholic; Johntarious Green, Montgomery Catholic; Logan Feltman, Winfield.

Lee Claims their First State Championship Since 2010

99th AHSAA State Basketball Championships

Class 5A Boys’ State Championship: Lee-Huntsville 47, Ramsay 29    BIRMINGHAM – Lee-Huntsville’s smothering defense reached an even higher level of perfection Thursday night in the 99th AHSAA State Basketball Championships Class 5A finals. The Generals downed Ramsay 47-29 to claim the school’s first state title since 2010.
     Lee shut down the Rams’ offense, limiting Ramsay to just 12 points in the second half. In the process, Ramsay shot just 27.5% from the field, lost the rebounding battle 31-29 and made only 1-of-10 tries from the 3-point line.
    Meanwhile, Lee (13-1), coached by Greg Brown, didn’t shoot much better (39.5%) but managed to take advantage of 15 Ramsay turnovers to seal the win.
     Senior Taye Fields scored nine points, had a game-high 10 rebounds, handed out three assists and blocked two shots to earn Class 5A state tourney MVP honors. Dexter Smith led all scorers with 15 points and Jacari Lane had 10 points, three assists and four steals.
     Ramsay (27-8), coached by Denton Johnson, was led by C.J. Burns’ and Kerrington Kiel with seven points each. KeShawn Murphy, the Rams’ 6-foot-11 senior center, had six points, three rebounds and one blocked short. Kamren Ivory had seven rebounds and three steals.
     The 2021 AHSAA State Basketball Championships continue Friday with the Class 3A girls’ and boys’ finals at 9 and 11:30 a.m., followed by the Class 1A championship games for girls and boys at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Class 2A girls’ and boys’ title games close out the 2021 championships at Bill Harris Arena Saturday with the finals set for 9 and 11:30 a.m.
    All championship games are being live-streamed over the NFHS Network by AHSAA TV partner WOTM TV and broadcast live over the AHSAA Radio Network.
Class 5A Boys’ All-State Tournament Team
Taye Fields, Lee-Huntsville (MVP); Dexter Smith, Lee-Huntsville; DeShawn Murphy, Ramsay; C.J. Burns, Ramsay; Martaveous Russell, Sipsey Valley.


Hazel Green Captures 4th Straight State Championship

BIRMINGHAM – Hazel Green High School’s Lady Trojan basketball legacy reached another milestone Wednesday winning its fourth consecutive state championship with a hard-fought 49-41 victory over Carver-Montgomery at Bartow Arena.
    The Trojans (36-1) of Coach Tim Miller  became the first school in the AHSAAs highest classes (6A or 7A) to win four state titles in a row. The state championship was first in the AHSAA’s 99-year history of the state basketball championships to be crowned at UAB’s legendary Bartow Arena.
      Class 6A state tournament MVP Samiya Steele scored 18 points to led Hazel Green. The junior was 5-of-9 from the field with three 3-pointers and was 5-of-5 at the foul line to help the Trojans hold off a strong Wolverines comeback down the stretch. Leah Brooks added nine points, Grace Watson had eight and a gamer-high 11 rebounds. Her biggest play may have been taking a charge that resulted in the fourth fall for Carver’s scoring leader Breanna Rhodes. 
The 6-foot-1 senior finished with nine points, three rebounds and one steal but missed some valuable playing time in the second half. When she returned to the floor, however, she helped the Wolverines (16-5), coached by Adria Harris, close the gap to two points. Carver pulled to withing two at 43-41 but was unable get a shot to fall in the final minutes. Guards Trinity Thomas and Alliyaha Ellis finished with 12 and 10 points respectively, and senior Mya Barnes made several key plays to help keep the Wolverines close. She had five points, six rebounds, five blocked shots and three steals.
    The Class 6A girls’ state championship was the first to be completed at the 2021 AHSAA State Basketball State Championships being held in Birmingham at Bartow Arena and Bill Harris Arena. Mountain Brook meets Spanish Fort in the Class 6A boys’ title game at Bartow at 11:30 a.m., followed by Hoover and Hewitt-Trussville play in the 7A girls’ championship at 2 p.m., and Oak Mountain takes on Enterprise at 4:30 p.m., in the 7A boys’ finals. Bill Harris Arena is hosting the Class 2A semifinals today and will be the site of the remaining 10 championship games Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
       All semifinal and championship games are being live-streamed over the NFHS Network by AHSAA TV partner WOTM TV. All semifinal games at Bartow Arena are also being televised live over the AHSAA TV Network and broadcast live over the AHSAA Radio Network.
Samiya Steele, Hazel Green MVP); Grace Watson, Hazel Green; Kyra Long, Hazel Green; Breanna Rhodes, Carver-Montgomery; Mya Barnes, Carver-Montgomery.



Woody Anderson Ford Poll Question

Will the expansion of the College Football playoffs create more parity in the game?
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