Lincoln County Quickly Becoming More Than Just A Football School

500 Wins. An .830 winning percentage. 33 Region titles. 11 State Championships. That is Lincoln County’s resume for football. Lincolnton, one of the best pigskin towns in the state. For basketball? Try 1998 as the Red Devils’ last notable winning season. Lincoln County has long been known as a football county but with Wesley Wuchte at the helm and Ahmad Rand inside, the two are steering the Red Devils to one of the program’s best seasons in school history.

Currently Lincoln County is 7-3 overall and ranked No. 7 in Class A-Public. It has been a vast turnaround from last year’s 10-11 campaign. Coach Wuchte, a former Evans High School standout under Coach Kevin Kenny and Aiken Tech forward for Coach Bruce Capers, is in his second year as varsity head coach after leading the junior varsity. The 26-year-old coach has overseen the slow development of the program, coaching all the juniors and sophomores on the roster since they were in eighth and ninth grade. Wuchte also serves as the Lincoln County Middle School head coach.

At 26, Coach Wuchte has led the Red Devils to their best start in years
At 26, Coach Wuchte has led the Red Devils to their best start in years

So how has Lincoln County gotten off to a fast start? It has to do with taking the seriousness on the gridiron and transferring over that same winning attitude onto the hardwood.

“I think it’s just buying into the culture,” explained Wuchte. “It’s a big football school out here. I only have three of my kids that don’t play football and only play basketball and that’s Zach [Crite], Ahmad [Rand] and Maciah [Gunby], which are my three leading scorers.

“Overall they are just buying into the culture. …They are playing defense hard, they play together and they are playing for one another.”

Introducing Ahmad Rand

For a program that hasn’t seen a winning season in nearly two decades, Wuchte was brought in with a young energy and a passion to turn things around. Players have been held accountable, film has been dissected with the team and each player has bought into doing the little things in order to be successful.

As the team has grown and realized something special could be on the horizon, one star has shined bright. 6-foot-7 junior forward Ahmad Rand has blossomed into the centerpiece for a now balanced attack with Crite (16.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.8 spg), Gunby (9.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Devon Holloway (11.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg) all making key contributions. The interest in Rand has started to grow and for good reason as he has shattered the school record for triple-doubles and is averaging an eye-popping 16.7 points, 16.4 rebounds and 9.6 blocks per game this year. He has heard from a handful of Division II schools and one D-I program, Kennesaw State University.

(L-R) Ahmad Rand, Zach Crite & Devon Holloway
(L-R) Ahmad Rand, Zach Crite & Devon Holloway

Rand has helped turn Lincoln County into a highlight factory with his dunks and ability to swat any shot thrown his way. The Red Devils welcomed rival Washington-Wilkes to Lincoln County last Tuesday and won 74-64 in front of a sell-out crowd that hasn’t been seen in years thanks to the hype that Rand and the rest of the Red Devils have built.

“It was so packed. It was so unreal. Kids were like ‘man I’ve never seen the gym this packed’ and I said yeah, you guys are turning it around, continue to grind. We are in the right direction, I’ll tell you that,” said Wuchte.

Finding Focus

Rand initially played football his freshman year but decided basketball was his calling after Wuchte encouraged him to focus on hoops. So how has Rand turned himself into a household name? It didn’t happen overnight or by luck.

“He just dedicated his whole entire offseason. So every day, I’m talking about four or five days a week him, Maciah and Zach, those three would be in there every day and Ahmad and Maciah especially, religiously they came every day,” said Wuchte.

Ahmad agreed that it has been a lot of hard work that has gotten him to the level of play he’s reached this season.

“I’ve been doing a lot of individual workouts with my coach in the offseason. Plus I’ve been into AAU which has definitely helped me out a little bit,” said Rand.

Ahmad Rand has overcome obstacles to become a premier '17 player
Ahmad Rand has overcome obstacles to become a premier ’17 player

Rand played over the summer with Team Power in Augusta but may be branching out to play with the Atlanta Xpress, one of the best Under Armour sponsored teams in the entire nation which features the likes of MJ Walker (Jonesboro), Elias Harden (Sandy Creek), Rayshaun Hammonds (Norcross) and Michael Durr (Westlake) as some headlining juniors.

Rand says he is used to playing power forward or center, but understands that if he joins a larger team or plays at the next level he may see a lot of time at the small forward position as well.

When asked why he decided to dedicate his life to improving on the court and in the classroom, one name came up as a motivating force.

“To be honest, he’s [Coach Wuchte] is the main reason why I’ve made it this far,” said Rand. “I didn’t really start taking basketball serious until my freshman year and sophomore year. He’s been helping me a lot during the offseason and doing a lot of workouts. He’s been pushing me and motivating me. Every day in the car ride home he’s telling me what I need to improve on and what other stuff I need to do.”

On The Map

As Coach Wuchte continued to provide support and guidance for Rand, the light went on as Ahmad realized he could have a future in basketball.

“When I started seeing myself get better, I started going home and thinking real hard about it. This year I said I have to have a better season than last year and that’s what I’ve been doing. And every day I’ve been working harder and harder and my name started getting out there more.”

Along with seeing his own name popping up across the internet, the re-emergence of Lincoln County basketball has been something special to Ahmad and something he takes pride in being a part of.

“Knowing that Lincoln County is a football county, we have a lot of leaders. Me and our starting shooting guard were talking about it. We have to bring LC up. This week we’ve beaten teams from Augusta and everything so that has been helping us get our name out there a lot.”

It’s been a long time coming, but Lincoln County basketball is finally being put back on the map by Coach Wuchte, Rand and a strong junior and senior class. With only around 350 kids in the school, the Red Devils have learned to become a close knit team, not only by suiting up together but by blood as Rand is cousins with both junior Zae Gartell and sophomore Javon Reid, who also stars as the Red Devils’ quarterback in football, a team which finished 9-2 this year.

Don’t be surprised if Lincoln County with its new found focus and emphasis on basketball becomes a statewide player on both the football field and the basketball court.

Chad Cook of @AugBball breaks down Lincoln County’s win over Lakeside:

Week 7 Rankings


  1. Westlake (7-2)
  2. Shiloh (9-2)
  3. Norcross (12-2)
  4. Wheeler (8-5)
  5. Tift County (13-1)
  6. McEachern (10-2)
  7. Collins Hill (13-1)
  8. Newton (10-2)
  9. Dacula (10-2)
  10. Pebblebrook (9-6)


  1. Miller Grove (12-2)
  2. Allatoona (12-0)
  3. McIntosh (11-2)
  4. Gainesville (6-1)
  5. Cedar Shoals (14-2)
  6. Heritage-Conyers (13-1)
  7. Camden County (12-0)
  8. South Paulding (11-2)
  9. Riverwood (14-1)
  10. Warner Robins (8-2)

Class AAAA

  1. Jonesboro (10-3)
  2. Grady (12-1)
  3. Lithonia (10-4)
  4. St. Pius (11-2)
  5. Liberty County (9-1)
  6. Walnut Grove (13-1)
  7. Sandy Creek (9-4)
  8. Eagle’s Landing (12-1)
  9. Thomson (10-2)
  10. Upson-Lee (11-3)

Class AAA

  1. Laney (12-0)
  2. Jenkins (10-2)
  3. Morgan County (10-3)
  4. South Atlanta (10-2)
  5. Calhoun (10-0)
  6. Central-Macon (10-2)
  7. Westminster (11-2)
  8. Callaway (5-2)
  9. Southwest-Macon (10-3)
  10. Westside-Augusta (5-2)

Class AA

  1. Thomasville (14-0)
  2. Crawford County (10-1)
  3. Seminole County (9-3)
  4. Holy Innocents’ (10-3)
  5. Vidalia (11-2)
  6. Early County (8-2)
  7. GAC (8-6)
  8. Macon County (9-3)
  9. Wesleyan (8-3)
  10. Chattooga (14-1)

Class A-Private

  1. Greenforest (13-1)
  2. St. Francis (8-5)
  3. North Cobb Christian (9-3)
  4. SWAC (7-7)
  5. St. Anne-Pacelli (8-4)
  6. Landmark Christian (8-3)
  7. Lakeview Academy (8-3)
  8. Whitefield Academy (7-7)
  9. Tattnall Square Academy (10-2)
  10. Our Lady of Mercy (7-3)

Class A-Public

  1. Treutlen (9-1)
  2. Wilkinson County (8-3)
  3. Randolph-Clay (10-4)
  4. Hawkinsville (7-3)
  5. Taylor County (8-4)
  6. Atkinson County (8-2)
  7. Lincoln County (7-3)
  8. Terrell County (8-6)
  9. Hancock Central (6-4)
  10. Wilcox County (7-5)

The Lake City Classic at Allatoona High School separated some pretenders from contenders as of now in Class AAAAAA. McEachern entered ranked No. 10 but after a strong showing in the tournament and a second-place finish, the Indians move up to No. 6. They thrashed last week’s No. 6 Lambert (13-2) 73-37 causing the Longhorns to fall out of the poll. Lambert quickly rebounded however with a blowout of last week’s No. 8 Milton (9-5) by a final of 93-67. The final result was eye opening after the Eagles had lost to 5ANo. 3 McIntosh 74-68. Milton completed its 0-3 week at the tournament by dropping a 70-59 decision to 1A-Private No. 3 North Cobb Christian, 70-59 and in the process tumbled out of the top ten. McEachern not only routed Lambert, but scored an impressive overtime victory over McIntosh 75-68 in the semifinals before falling to Allatoona 64-61. Freshman Isaac Okoro finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and three blocks while Darius Jones poured in 20 points to lead the Indians over McIntosh.

No. 3 Norcross and No. 4 Wheeler both fell to out-of-state opponents while No. 5 Tift County suffered its first loss of the season in the Arby’s Classic championship in Bristol, Tennessee to Wayne (OH) without second leading scorer Preston Horne who injured his knee earlier in the tournament. No. 8 Newton won the Yuletide Classic championship behind the play of Dre Butler (All-Tournament Team) and JD Notae (Tournament MVP).  A flock of Falcons, No. 9 Dacula and No. 10 Pebblebrook, both re-emerge in the top ten. Dacula finished 3-1 at the Kingdom of the Sun tournament in Florida. In their next game they clash with 12-1 Grayson in a crucial Region 8 meeting. Pebblebrook has played a heavy national schedule including seven of their 15 games coming against out-of-state competition. The Falcons return to Region 3 play battle-tested and already 5-0. Auburn signee Jared Harper and Collin Sexton have transformed into the most potent backcourt in the state, both averaging well over 20 points a night for Coach George Washington.

No. 1 Miller Grove continued its steady dominance this year in Class AAAAA by capturing the Chick-Fil-A Invitational championship at Tucker High School. En route to raising the trophy, the Wolverines clawed away 4ANo. 3 Lithonia 60-47 and beat Tucker in the championship on their home floor, 80-61. No. 2 Allatoona remained perfect by winning the Lake City Classic on their home court. Wins over North Cobb Christian, Berkmar and McEachern have the Buccaneers as hot as anybody in the state. Coach Markus Hood’s matchup zone and the stifling defense of Trey Doomes and Ephraim Tshimanga have the Bucs looking like a good bet to make another deep run in state. No. 5 Cedar Shoals continued to make a statement as well and built to its already impressive resume. The Jaguars won the Sweet South Classic and picked up wins over 1A-Private No. 4 SWAC, 48-44 and 3ANo. 3 Morgan County 61-59 along the way. In the championship victory over the Bulldogs, Phlan Fleming hit a basket with one second left to capture the crown. Fleming finished with 27 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals and was named tournament MVP. No. 10 Warner Robins is back in the rankings after LaGrange dropped to new 4ANo. 10 Upson-Lee, 77-65.

A familiar face takes over No. 1 in AAAA. Two-time defending state champion Jonesboro reaches the top of the poll for the first time this season after a third-place showing in the MaxPreps Holiday Classic. MJ Walker pumped in 38 points in the third-place game victory over Bishop Gorman (NV), 65-64. No. 2 Grady relents its hold on the top spot after a narrow loss to Jefferson Davis (AL), 67-61. No. 4 St. Pius quietly continues its ascension up the polls after losing to Grady and No. 3 Lithonia. The Golden Lions swept their way to winning the St. Pius X Christmas Classic and drilled Blessed Trinity in the finals, 67-38. Henry County (9-4), who peaked at No. 4 in the state, has dropped out of the top ten following their third straight loss. Stockbridge (6-5) won at Henry County 86-71 on Saturday. Virgil Fields finished with 29 points, six assists and 13 rebounds while Jadon Davis added 37 points and six assists to drop the Warhawks.

In AAA, No. 2 Jenkins moves up one spot after a tough No. 3 Morgan County loss in the Sweet South Classic championship. No. 4 South Atlanta blasted Sequoyah at the Farm Bureau Insurance Classic in Spartanburg, South Carolina 82-54. Artavious Banks led the way with 25 points. No. 5 Calhoun impressed many on its way to winning the bracket at the Lake City Classic. On Saturday, the Yellow Jackets had to deal with an up-and-coming contender in Region 6, Coahulla Creek (12-3). Down 39-35 entering the fourth, Calhoun outscored the Colts 25-13 on the road to secure a 60-52 win. Jireh Wilson and Kaelan Riley, both football signees, were huge as Wilson finished with 31 points and six rebounds while Riley posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. No. 7 Westminster debuts in the poll after a huge 65-43 win over 1A-Private No. 4 SWAC and an 11-2 start behind Will Benson, Philip Jones and Mikael Sampson. No. 10 Westside-Augusta also debuts in the top ten following a Banks County (12-2) 42-40 loss to a shorthanded 6ANo. 7 Collins Hill in the Commerce Christmas Tournament championship. The Patriots get the slight nod over the Leopards. Westside’s only two losses have come to No. 1 Laney by a combined seven points. Speaking of Laney, the Wildcats held on to beat 4ANo. 9 Thomson, 62-58 at home behind Christian Keeling’s 23 points and Zep Jasper’s 20.

No. 1 Thomasville has emerged as the class of AA after sweeping through the Thomasville Hoopfest to win the title.  Elsewhere in the classification, there have been road bumps. No. 2 Crawford County lost its first game to Manchester 63-61. No. 3 Seminole County is riding a two-game losing skid after falling to Boyd Anderson (FL) and Valdosta at the Thomasville Hoopfest, two teams Thomasville defeated. No. 5 Vidalia lost its first two games of the season as well to Richmond Academy and Brunswick. One team that is trending upwards is No. 4 Holy Innocents’. They jump up two spots following a perfect 3-0 championship run at the Pensacola Catholic Crusader Christmas Tournament. The Golden Bears return home to host Pace Academy. The Knights have played a national schedule and have paid dearly, dropping from No. 2 to unranked at 2-8 overall. No. 10 Chattooga at 14-1 makes an entry into the state picture.

Class 1A-Private and Public are still trying to sort themselves out. Outside of No. 1 Greenforest, 1A-Private looks like anyone’s ball game. No. 4 SWAC has dropped three straight with losses to Cedar Shoals, Stone Mountain and Westminster. No. 7 Lakeview has fallen to East Hall and North Hall back-to-back while No. 8 Whitefield Academy limped to 1-2 at the Lake City Classic with losses to Kell and Hillgrove in the bracket.

1A-Public has seen No. 2 Wilkinson County start to make a move. They continue to rise following a 57-54 win over Stratford Academy (8-3) on Saturday. No. 9 Hancock Central held off a furious comeback from No. 7 Lincoln County to win 69-64 after leading by 22 at the half. In the loss rapidly rising ’17 prospect, 6-foot-7 Ahmad Rand, posted another triple-double with 18 points, 18 rebounds and 11 blocks.

Where are they now? (January Update)

A monthly check up on how some of last season’s top GHSA players are faring as freshmen at their respective D-1 schools:


Jaylen Brown (Wheeler to Cal)
14.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 44.1 FG%

Shembari Phillips (Wheeler to Tennessee)
2.2 ppg, 0.8 rpg

Derek Ogbeide (Pebblebrook to UGA)
2.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg

Ty Hudson (Pebblebrook to Clemson)
2.6 ppg

Trhae Mitchell (Pebblebrook to South Alabama)

Bryce Brown (Tucker to Auburn)
9.1 ppg, 41.6 FG%

Devontae Cacok (Alpharetta to UNC-Wilmington)
6.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 68.9 FG%

Marcus Sheffield (Chattahoochee to Stanford)
4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg

Ricky Madison (Norcross to High Point)
4.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg


Lamont West (Miller Grove to West Virginia)

Class AAAA

Tracy Hector (Jonesboro to Kennesaw State)
2.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.8 apg

Austin Donaldson (Jonesboro to Georgia State)
6 minutes

Malik Benlevi (Jenkins to Georgia State)
2.0 ppg, 1.1 rpg

Montae Glenn (Carrollton to Georgia Southern)
5.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 63.4% FG

Ty Cockfield (Johnson-Gainesville to Stetson)
7.1 ppg, 0.9 apg, 1.9 rpg

Class AAA

Tookie Brown (Morgan County to Georgia Southern)
17.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.1 spg

Austin Venable (Banks County to Presbyterian)
4.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 48.9% FG

Antwan Maxwell (Johnson-Savannah to Charleston Southern)

Class AA

Reggie Reid (Harlem to FGCU)
4.7 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 4.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 31.3% FG

Trevon Scott (McIntosh County Academy to Cincinnati)

Eric Jamison (GAC to Gardner-Webb)

Class A

Malik Beasley (St. Francis to FSU)
16.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.2 spg, 49.3 FG%, 39.2 3PT%

Kaiser Gates (St. Francis to Xavier)
2.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg

Josh Coleman (St. Francis to Coastal Carolina)
1.0 rpg

‘Turtle’ Jackson (Athens Christian to UGA)
2.0 ppg,1.1 rpg, 1.0 apg

Justin Ravenel (Greenforest to Florida A&M)
8.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg

Courtney Alexander (Whitefield Academy to Tennessee Tech)
2.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 54.5 FG%

Trey Kalina (North Cobb Christian to UTC)