Putting the spotlight on the seniors for Shaw High basketball means highlighting nearly every player on the team.
Each of the top five scorers for the Raiders (12-5) is in his final year with the team and no player who isn't a senior has appeared in more than three games.
Perhaps no senior has had as big of an impact on the team’s success, however, as forward Cedarius Brantley.
Brantley, who averages 17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game so far this season has been a catalyst for Shaw, which is currently on a six-game winning streak.
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In a 59-48 win over Troup on Tuesday night, Brantley scored 15 points, grabbed a number of rebounds and altered a handful of passes and shots by the opposition.
Coach Terry White said that it is his consistency that helps guide the team to its success.
“He’s just consistent,” White said after the win against Troup. “That’s what he is. He does what he can do. It’s hard for guys at his age to understand, but he doesn’t get out of what he’s good at.”
What he’s good at encompasses a handful of things, White said.
First, he’s athletic.
“I think I’m best at going to the rack,” Brantley said to describe it. He demonstrated that ability on a fast break on Tuesday, nearly dunking over an opponent, but opting instead to flick it in from short range.
And, of course his size is an advantage too.
At 6-foot-5, he’s not a giant, but he has long arms and is able to leap over opponents for rebounds and alter a number of shots.
Most importantly, though, is his intensity, White said.
“He’s a high-energy player with a high motor,” the coach said. “He outhustles guys a lot of the time. He’s in excellent condition. He’s just dependable.”
Brantley has been playing since he was 4 years old.
He described his infancy in the game as simply picking up the ball and tossing it into the hoop. Then, he said, he was hooked.
Early on, he learned a lot from his cousins and other family, some of whom played basketball themselves at the college level.
Asked what his own goals for this season were, he mentioned the team’s first: Make it to Macon and win a state championship. Individually, though, he’d like to make it to college on an athletic scholarship as well.
He claimed interest from South Carolina State, Columbus State and Georgia Southern, noting that he’ll need to improve on his range as a shooter and ball-handling ability, particularly with his left hand.
White said that he’d need to continue to get bigger and stronger, something that plays an important role at the next level.
“He’s going to pack on a few more pounds of muscle, and he’s really working at that,” White said. “Strength is the biggest hurdle for him, but he’s working hard. He’s a believer in the weight room now.
“It’s sometimes a curse to be able to do so many things at this level. You learn when you move on that guys are athletic and fast and good players like you are, and it takes a lot to be the best.”
For now, he’s just focused on his senior season.
“I don’t really know what would be the perfect script to end my time here,” Brantley said. “We just want to get to that state championship.”
Favorite sport (other than basketball): Football
Favorite sports teams: Georgia Bulldogs, Atlanta Falcons
Favorite athlete: Oklahoma City Thunder star, Kevin Durant (“I like the way he shoots the ball,” Brantley said. “He’s a good all-around player.”)
Favorite movie: Transformers (the first one)