More than a handful of local basketball players will get a chance to showcase their talents one more time when they play in the sixth annual Herbert Greene All-Star game on Saturday at the Lumpkin Center.
The girls game is set to tip off at 5 p.m., followed by three-point and slam dunk competitions. The boys game is estimated to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Excluding the fact that, based on rosters, they figure to be competitive games, coaches for both the Georgia boys and girls teams said it’s a great opportunity for players to impress college scouts.
“You try to have fun and enjoy the game, but it’s also another opportunity to showcase talent in front of scouts,” girls coach Sterling Hicks (Kendrick High) said. “We try to stress that: Don’t do things you don’t normally do. Stay focused and play hard. It’s a chance to have fun, but we express to them that we want to compete.”
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Spencer’s Walter Jackson, who is coaching the boys team, had the same message.
“It’s an opportunity to play with other very talented players,” Jackson said. “It’s a challenge, and scouts can see how they respond to that challenge.”
The teams were able to get in a handful of practices after the rosters were solidified last Thursday. For the most part, players are familiar with their teammates, having faced each other throughout the season.
Building chemistry isn’t necessarily a challenge, though some are better than others at adjusting quickly over the week, Hicks said.
“Some kids flourish, but some have more trouble with it,” he said. “We try to have some type of structure. We don’t want them out there just freelancing. That can expose some kids and make them look bad. We want to showcase everybody’s strengths. Hopefully, everything will work out.”
Jackson spoke similarly of the challenge, noting that it’s important for players to demonstrate their instincts in the game.
“It’s about knowing the game of basketball,” he said. “Scouts want to see how you act without the ball, how you rebound, how you handle free throws.”
The girls team will be led by five players from Hardaway, which advanced to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals this season. Three Northside players and two from Kendrick will also participate, among others.
Two girls from Russell County, two from Central and one from Smiths Station will play on the opposition.
For the boys, Shaw leads the way with four, while two each from Hardaway, Northside and Jordan will also participate. For Alabama, Central, Russell County and Glenwood send two, while Smiths Station leads the way with three.
The event will feature a three-point shootout and slam dunk competition. Coaches said they have not yet decided who would participate.
At the end of the day, Jackson said he wanted his players to understand one main thing.
“All I told them is to have fun,” he said. “Never lose sight that it’s a game. It could be your future. Someone might be in the stands who hasn’t seen you. It’s a chance for someone else to see you, so don’t stress yourself out and stay within the game. Just keep things in perspective.”
That doesn’t mean they aren’t out there to win, of course. Hicks said that’s always his goal.
“I never like to lose,” he said with a laugh. “Doesn’t matter what the game is, we’re playing to win it.”
Tynisha Mitchell, Carver; Sierra Porter, Kendrick; Jasmine Merritt, Kendrick; Jhalyn Feaster, Shaw; Chelsea Thomas, Spencer; Keonna Harris, Harris County; Tiera White, Northside; Astassia Fields, Northside; Keyanna Harris, Northside; Jamilia Burgos, Hardaway; Shaunice Bennett, Hardaway; Alexcia McNeal, Hardaway; Amber Keith, Hardaway; Lakeyia McNeal, Hardaway; Colleen Gottfried, Pacelli
Coached by: Sterling Hicks, Kendrick
Iesha Hopwood, Russell County; Areal Carter, Russell County; Keaundra Cox, Central; Juel Beasley, Central; Jamie White, Smiths Station; Monisha Floyd, Loachapoka; Denna Swift, Bullock County; Keoeshia Cowan, Bullock County; Tish Champion, Opelika; Destiny Savage, Opelika; Kassidy Smith, Eufaula; Dakijah Freeman, Beauregard
Coached by: Walter Lewis
Cedric Jackson, Hardaway; DQ Billingsley, Hardaway; Sean Buffen, Spencer; Christian Bradford, Kendrick; Wayne Stevens, Columbus; Otis Lewis, Pacelli; Jeremy Floyd, Northside; Marcus Beverly, Northside; Tony Palmer, Jordan; Jamar Sheppard, Jordan; Cedarius Brantley, Shaw; Deionte Corprew, Shaw; Brandon Jackson, Shaw; Ramen Turner, Shaw; Xavieus Duncan, Calvary Christian; Robert Colon, Carver
Coached by: Walter Jackson, Spencer
Devin Foreman, Beauregard; Don Speake, Tallassee; Ronnie Battle, Central; Kavell Lamb, Central; Jimmy Wilson, Smiths Station; Matt Maddox, Smiths Station; Chandler Ferguson, Smiths Station; Artavious Porter, Russell County; Trey Lockhart, Russell County; Mike Swann, Glenwood; Trotter Barringer, Glenwood; Juwan Moss, Loachapoka; Charles Walker, Bullock County; T.J. Presley, Opelika; Trey Purter, Opelika; Terion Gates, Eufaula
Coached by: Carlos Thomas
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.