So much talent. So little time. Former and future Tiders galore, and luckily there is space to write about the action at day three of the 2017 AHSAA State Tourney at Legacy Arena at the BJCC in Birmingham.
TOP PROSPECT: Easy choice, because he’s the state’s top player. This is the third consecutive year Friday Night Lights has written about Alabama signee John Petty. He’s playing for a new school, as Johnson closed and Mae Jemison opened. It’s fitting that Jemison was America’s first black female astronaut, because Petty – wait for it – can truly take flight.
Did I mention the one-handed alley oop by Petty with the “and one?” It left even the Sylacauga fans slack-jawed.
“I’ve coached five McDonalds All-Americans, and John should have the sixth. I think he’s the best player in the country,” said venerable veteran Jags Coach Jack Doss, who we’ve followed since he coached Buck Johnson at Hayes in the early ’80s. “This game’s about consistency, and he’s consistent.”
That he is. Petty poured in 36 points, grabbed 11 boards, dished seven assists and had three steals with a block in Jemison’s 80-59 win over Sylacauga. Explosive is not a strong enough word. He certainly silenced the Sylacauga students and their silly “Overrated” chant.
And the thought of Petty in a backcourt with Georgia five star Collin Sexton?
“I look forward to the game (Sexton) brings,” Petty said. “The awesome talent, and it’s just a great combination that we can put together to play with it other. It’s going to be fun .”
Both Petty and Sexton are good free throw shooters and both can drop dimes assist wise. As Petty said, Alabama basketball is about to get fun again. Real fun. Weeknight sellout all season fun.
SENIORS WHO SHINED: Austin’s 6-7 wing Javan Johnson is committed to Troy. He scored 18 and grabbed eight rebounds in the Black bears 70-57 loss to Paul Bryant. He is silky smooth and very athletic. He’s a steal for the Trojans.
JUNIORS TO WATCH: Bryant’s Jared Sherfeld, a 6-4 combo guard, can shoot it and he’s quick as a cat, which allows him to slash to the hoop. His schools of interest include UAB and Samford, but as Peck-Love pointed out, “He’s definitely D-1.” Sherfeld scored a game-high 23 points to go with seven assists, five boards and two steals against Austin. He hit a 3 to close the first half and beat the buzzer. I believe he can play in the SEC.
His teammate, 6-5 Daviyon Dennis, is a leaper who can also shoot smoothly. He tallied nine points to go with six rebounds and three assists, and had a thunder dunk to fire up the Stampede section.
Those two are coached for former Tide forward Shon Peck-Love, who has done a phenomenal job with the Bryant program. They will play for the 6A title Saturday at 2:15 CT against Parker.
On the ladies side, Homewood guard Hannah Barber is an early Alabama commitment. “I just built a really huge relationship with the coaching staff. That was really huge for my family,” she said after the Pats crushed Carver-Montgomery 78-48. “I had an offer from Alabama for over a year, and we’ve seen things in that program turn around. They’re in my home state, and what more could you want? An SEC program on the come-up in my home state, and beating Tennessee (two straight). They’re showing signs of some really good things, and they have some good recruits coming in.”
Barber says she’s 100 per cent committed to the Tide and won’t take other visits.
Barber, a nifty ball-handler, scored 13, dished six assists and had four steals . She’s 5-6, and her behind-the- back dribbles and no-look passes are fun to watch. FNL has mentioned her in both ninth and tenth grades. She and Homewood are staples at the state tourney.
SUPER SOPHS: FNL liked Mae Jemison’s 6-2 guard Brandon Nicholas when he lettered last year as a J.O. Johnson freshman. He scored three points, grabbed three boards and had five assists, and showed a lot quickness and hustle.
JUST A FRESHMAN: Bryant’s Jamel King is a wing who is already 6-4 with room to grow. In the Stampede’s win over Austin, he scored seven points in but six minutes, and grabbed three boards. Remember his name, as he’s the type FNL tends to discover from time to time.
On the girls’ side, Carver-Montgomery’s 5-7 guard Kristin Brown is a very adept ball handler who is quick as a cat. Her line against Homewood was 11 points, two steals and one assist. I like her Ar’mond Davis “never met a shot I didn’t like” mentality.
DUAL SPORT STARS: Seth Williams plays football, basketball and baseball for Bryant. He is said to be high on the Alabama 2018 board at wide receiver. Against Austin, Williams scored 10 points in 23 minutes . He’s 6-3.
“He’s our ‘Mr. Everything,’” said Peck-Love. “He scores, he rebounds, and he plays defense. Seth does everything we ask him to do, and he always gives us 110 per cent.”
Williams wasn’t the only multi-sport athlete in the Bryant/Austin game. Asa Martin, a fine running back who is back in Decatur after a year at IMG Academy, is a staunch defender for Austin. His numbers: two points, two boards, and a block in 10 minutes. His football offer list includes Florida, Auburn and Ole Miss.
CRIMSON CONNECTIONS: Faces in the crowd this week have included former Tide players Gerald Wallace, who is retired from the NBA, and Bryan Passink, who does color on Tide radio broadcasts. Also on hand was legendary former Tide Coach Wimp Sanderson.
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MEDIA FARE: For lunch, we had Jim n’ Nick’s chicken with salad and their signature cheddar biscuits. Yummy. The evening fare was cheese grits, biscuits, bacon and sausage gravy. It was warm and hit the spot, I just couldn’t find the eggs. (There were none.)