Coming off of an Elite Eight appearance in Class A-Private, the program’s most successful season in school history, St. Anne-Pacelli turns to new leadership after Alan Griffin, head boys basketball coach and athletic director left in the offseason to become White County High School AD after serving nine years in Columbus.
Replacing Griffin is Corry Black, a fixture in the Columbus basketball community for over a decade. Black served as an assistant coach at Columbus State University from 2002-2008, first starting as a video coordinator. Black got his first opportunity coaching back in 2000.
“I didn’t play any college basketball,” explained Black. “I’m from Tifton. I went to Southern Union on a cross country scholarship and just stayed around the game. The coach didn’t have an assistant coach, so I basically was his assistant coach for two years and we won two state championships and went to the national tournament.”
After a two-year stint at Southern Union State C.C., Black spent the next six seasons at Columbus State before serving as an assistant at Chattahoochee Valley C.C. for the 2008-09 season.
Since 2009, Black has made it a point to help student-athletes better themselves on and off the court through CB Hoops. The organization puts on multiple showcases, tournaments and leagues throughout the year to better connect high school athletes to college coaches while also preaching the importance of education.
“I just wanted to help more kids,” said Black about why he launched cblackhoops.com. “Instead of recruiting 12 guys at Columbus State, I want to help kids all across the country. When I started CB Hoops I was able to do that and touch more kids through this program, holding showcase events and different things.”
Aside from the high school level, Black’s influence is still felt at the college stage. He serves as the Assistant Director of JucoReport.com, the No. 1 Junior College Basketball site in the nation where he helps organize major events such as The Battle of the South Jamboree, ATL Live Spring Showcase and more.
Leading the Ship
Black jumped at the opportunity to coach at St. Anne-Pacelli.
“It’s here in Columbus. That was attractive that I didn’t have to move my family. I can still continue to do what I’m doing,” explained Black on why becoming a Viking was too good of a spot to pass up. “St. Anne, they had a good run. Coach Alan Griffin did a great job over there…To be honest, I want to see if I can build it back up to what Coach Griffin did. Coach Griffin had it rolling and he did an amazing job and I just want to keep that momentum going and help the community out.”
Black is set to meet with the players for the first time today, Tuesday, October 11 at 12:10 p.m. With eight seniors graduating from last year’s 17-10 team, Black’s message to the group will be simple.
“Let’s try to keep the momentum going from last year. They got to the state tournament. I want to just keep that going. Let’s try to keep the tradition going, let’s try to make it a tradition. Let’s not just be a one hit wonder.”
As the summer travel ball season heats up, teams and players begin to make a name for themselves. One program that has slowly been on the rise is 14U Macon United HypeSouth Elite, a third-year program taking baby steps into becoming a contender on the bigger circuits.
Consisting of players in the surrounding Middle Georgia areas such Macon, Jones County, Monroe County and Wilkinson County, Head Coach Armand Burnett and Assistant Coach Kowacie Reeves Sr. are trying to build not only a basketball power, but better young men.
“The idea behind the beginning of the Macon United HypeSouth program, was to create a positive outlet for the inner city youth in the Macon & Middle Georgia area (specifically Macon), due to the ongoing violence among youth in the area,” explained Reeves.
Burnett added that they founded Macon United with the goal to, “rebuild the basketball culture in the Macon and Middle Georgia area.”
“We provide mentoring services, academic assistance, as well as exposure opportunities for the kids in our program,” continued Reeves. “Additionally, we are looking to start the HypeSouth Scholarship Fund that will be awarded to graduating high school student-athletes who maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher and have no behavior referrals.”
The core of Macon United HypeSouth consists of Bryson Wooten, Courtney Green, Kowacie Reeves Jr. and Jehlen Cannady.
The last name Wooten should be a familiar one for those in Jones County and neighboring areas. Bryson, a 5-10 point guard, is the first cousin of Jones County standout Devin Wooten, who averaged 23.9 points, 4.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game his senior season while being named Sandy’s Spiel Class AAAAA All-State Honorable Mention. Wooten, much like his older cousin, has an uncanny feel for the game and an ability to catch fire at the drop of a bucket. He is the catalyst offensively, averaging a team-leading 16 points, six assists and two steals per game through Macon United’s first three tournaments. Wooten could see varsity time early in his high school career as the Greyhounds will begin to rebuild after losing their top three scorers to graduation.
Inside the paint is where Courtney Green controls the action. Standing 6-3, Green is set to attend Rutland High School next year. The long and lanky shot blocking specialist could have a few more inches left in him to grow. Right now defense is his calling card, altering shots and cleaning up misses. He is averaging a double-double through the summer at 12 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks per game.
Kowacie Reeves Jr. is the youngest of the bunch playing up a year, but that hasn’t stopped the sweet shooting two-guard from becoming an important piece to the Macon United HypeSouth puzzle. The 13-year-old is a marksman from deep, knocking down 7-of-8 from behind the stripe this weekend including a 25-point outburst in a 61-51 victory over Active Elite at the North Forsyth Shootout, a tournament in which Macon United finished 3-1, falling short in the championship game to ELW Future Stars 41-40. For the summer Kowacie is averaging 10 points per game and leads the team in three-pointers made.
Lastly it is Jehlen Cannady, a 5-10 combo guard, who gives Macon United their toughness. Cannady will attend Westside-Macon High School next year and will bring his contagious attitude with him. Coach Reeves declared him a “true leader” and a bulldog on defense. His effort is never called into question. Cannady can be counted on to hustle and get after it each game when guarding opposing ball handlers.
Macon United HypeSouth Elite isn’t just winning on the court they are also winning in the classroom and in the community. The sky can be the limit for these young men with Reeves Sr. and Burnett lending their guidance and advice along the way.
Key Pieces: JR – C – 7’0 Tyshaun Crawford 9.2 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 3.0 bpg
Outlook: The Bears were stuck in the difficult R4-AAAA with the likes of Jonesboro, Walnut Grove and Eagle’s Landing. A change of scenery in Region 5-AAAAA should help Griffin be much more competitive with a blossoming big man in the middle.
Athens Academy (8-17)
Key Pieces: JR – F – 6’2 – Jacob Hudson 15.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.1 apg
FR – G – 5’8 – Payton Bowles IV 7.2 ppg
Outlook: Athens Academy will once again be in Region 8-A, a cluster that looks wide open behind Lakeview Academy. Jacob Hudson is slated to return for his senior season and gives whoever is head coach, a true go-to guy. Payton Bowles IV came on strong late in the year but must cut down on his turnovers in year two.
South Gwinnett (5-20)
Key Pieces: JR – F – 6’4 – D’onte Torrence
SO – G – 6’1 – Gimal Evans
JR – G – 6’2 – Angelo Taylor
Outlook: There will never be a shortage of talent in Gwinnett County. That’s the good thing. The bad thing is that there will never be a shortage of talent trading hands. The Comets are going to be stuck in the brutal Region 8-AAAAAAA with Newton, Shiloh and Grayson. Only three seniors graduate off last year’s 5-win team. Next year’s team will be loaded with seniors and juniors.
Key Pieces: JR – PF – Deon Berrien 14.8 ppg, 13 rpg, 1.5 bpg
FR – G – Kalen Williams 13.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.8 apg
JR – F – Kre’Sean Hall 11.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg
Outlook: The Lakeside-Evans job is one of the best available in terms of talent on the roster and an ability to turn things around quickly. The Panthers are in Region 3-AAAAAA with Heritage-Conyers as the heavy favorite. Kalen Williams is a sweet shooting guard with big potential to become one of the best players the school has seen in years. Deon Berrien is a force inside and Kre’Sean Hall is a nice compliment as well.
Key Pieces: SO – G – Eric Graham 14.8 ppg, 1.5 spg
SO – PG – Chance Fugghett 7.4 ppg
Outlook: Leading scorer Shamar Barrett is graduating but the Warriors should still have a nice youthful backcourt in Region 3-AAAAAA. Eric Graham and Chance Fugghett both have opportunities to improve over the next two years. Seven sophomores are set to return while two juniors will play their final season in 2016-17.
Key Pieces: JR – G – 6’2 – Bryce Parks 11.1 ppg
Outlook: Bryce Parks will need a big senior season to help the Bulldogs in Region 4-AAAAA. If Dutchtown can put some talent around him, the Dogs could be a competitive bunch. Playing in Region 4-AAAA last year should prepare them. Seven seniors will graduate meaning Parks and others will have a greater role.
Key Pieces: JR – G – 6’0 – Brandon Blair
JR – F – 6’5 – Jalen Hodges
SO – G – 6’2 – Will Huzzie
SO – G – 6’0 – Adam Flagler
FR – C – 6’10 – Alex Powell
Outlook: If the pieces remain intact, the Duluth job is hands down the best on the market in terms of talent and program history. A strong potential starting five is already in line with key pieces set to return. Alex Powell altered countless shots as a freshman and if he can put on weight, he could be a force inside with his advanced skillset offensively. Adam Flagler and Jalen Hodges are two veterans that can ease the transition under a new head coach.
Dawson County (13-13)
Key Pieces: SO – C – 6’8 – Gabe Bryant
SO – G – 6’1 – Cullen Reed
SO – G – 5’9 – Jeremiah Crumley
Outlook: Dawson County could be on the verge of something with everyone returning. Eight sophomores littered the roster headlined by big man Gabe Bryant who will be a D-I big man as he continues to grow his game. If Bryant and the rest of the core remains in place, the Tigers could have some bite in Region 7-AAA.
Majority of information courtesy of Kdubble on The Vent
Walnut Grove—Chris Ward Sandy Creek—Janie Hodges—Scotland, NC Rockdale County Holy Innocents—Nichole Dixon—Wesleyan Asst. Woodland-Stockbridge—Mike Johnson—Former Redan Asst. Franklin County—Tony Watkins Sr.—Grayson Oglethorpe County Mountain View—Brad Blackmon—Asst. on staff Elbert County—Wes Greer—Dawson County boys Asst. White County—Jarvis Davenport—East Hall Asst. Berkmar—Anthandus Beauford—Asst. on staff Thomson Central Gwinnett—ShaLisha Davis-–Tri-Cities Asst. Savannah Christian—Joshua Kerkau—Oak Hall, FL John’s Creek—Kirk Call—Parkview Peach County—Tamica Andrews—Lamar County Northside—Ashleigh Fox-–Jones County Asst. Archer—Bob Westbrook—Etowah Dalton—Jim Case-–Asst. on staff
Blessed Trinity—Tim Rountree—Asst. on boys staff Arabia Mountain—Frank Henderson Miller Grove—Yolanda Redmond—Miller Grove HC
Schley County—Cliff Royal
Prince Avenue—Richard Ricketts—AD
Shiloh—Nigel Carter—Asst. on staff
Riverdale—Alissa Wilson Liberty County—Nichole Tazewell—Lewis Frasier Middle School
Cedar Shoals—Takesha Wall—Asst. on staff Grayson—Robin Potter—Tucker Montgomery County—Dr. Thomas Stockdale
Mt. Pisgah—Regina Tate-Leslie—Former Pace HC Darlington—Tommy Atha—Asst. on staff
Etowah—Trip Holton—Asst. on staff
Central-Carrollton—Josh Smith—Asst. on staff
Banks County—Steve Shedd—Banks Middle School Coach Tucker—JJ Oliver Jr.—Bluefield State
Peachtree Ridge—Vanessa White—Dade County Asst. Parkview—Cynthia Cooper—Asst. on staff Windsor Forest—Samantha Tracy
Sprayberry—Melissa Little—Hiram Asst.
Murray County—Hannah Mayo—Asst. on staff East Coweta—Lee Heaberlin—Sandy Creek baseball Duluth—April Tate—Former Dutchdown HC
Seminole County—Carrie Stephens
Therrell—Carla Holloway—Woodland-Stockbridge Stockbridge—Jamilia Green—P.E. Teacher Stephens County—Scott Strickland—Banks County boys Asst.
Griffin—Willie Reese—Meadowcreek Lanier County—Ty Randolph—Dougherty Jackson—Al Williams—Rockdale AD/Former Rockdale HC Fellowship Christian—Roshown McLeod—Johnson Ferry Christian Glascock County Dougherty—Rufus McDuffie—5 state titles @ Mitchell-Baker West Forsyth—Fredrick Hurt—Alpharetta West Laurens—Ed Ford—Montgomery County Co-HC Chapel Hill—Ken Austin—Former Langston Hughes girls Asst. Glynn Academy—Terrance Haywood—last at McIntosh Academy Oconee County—Thad Burgess—Dawson County East Jackson—David Akin—Former Parkview Asst. Athens Academy—Ed Wilson—Frederica Academy Etowah—Allen Whitehart—last at Buford South Gwinnett—Ty Anderson—North Georgia Asst. Veterans—Nick Brooks—Warner Robins Asst. Lakeside—Jeff Williams—Greenbrier Asst. Grovetown—Raymond Epps—Asst. of Staff Dutchtown—Jamal Basit—South Gwinnett Warren County Duluth—Cabral Huff—Alcorn State Asst. Bainbridge—Terry Smith—Peach County Greene County—Steve McNease—Asst. on staff Creekside—Gregory Freeman—Lovejoy Johns Creek—Keenan Temple—Lambert Asst. Alpharetta—Jason Dasigner—Pope Asst. Dawson County—Chad Pittman—Chestatee Bradwell Institute-—Will Douberly
Coahulla Creek—Matthew Legg—Murray County Asst. Macon County
Prince Avenue—Will Cantrell—Hebron Christian Seminole County
Elbert County—Don Hurlburt—Etowah Dodge County—Robert Cotton—Wayne County
Chestatee —Kevin Strickland-–Brookwood Asst. Sequoyah—Allen Carden—Sprayberry girls HC
Mt. Pisgah—Doug Able-–Notre Dame, MD Wesleyan—Adam Griffin—Asst. on staff Peach County—Prelvis Paster—Lamar County
Meadowcreek—Curtis Gilleylen—Columbia girls HC St. Anne-Pacelli—Corry Black—Former Chattahoochee Valley C.C. Asst. Taylor County—Gerald Tranquille—Blountstown, FL
Groves—Xavier Woods—Twiggs County HC Jenkins County—Quinton Sweet—Asst. on staff
Swainsboro—Brice Hobbs—Asst. on staff
Lovejoy—John Holladay—Volleyball HC
Pierce County—Joseph Garner—Tift County girls Asst.
Washington-Wilkes—Terrence Pendleton—Jacksonville State G.A.
Miller Grove—Rasul Chester—Stephenson
Hebron Christian—Derrick Heberling—Central Gwinnett Asst.
Lamar County—Warren Sellers—Former West Hall HC
WestHall—Bobby Pless—Girls Asst. ELCA—Derrick Mason—Emmanuel College Assoc. HC Central-Carrollton—Deion Sims—Asst. on staff Mundy’s Mill—Dwight Callaway—Former Riverdale Asst.
Stratford Academy —Sean Sweeney—Georgia Southwestern Asst. WayneCounty—Lemetrice Ray Manchester—Dr. George McElroy—Shaw Asst.
Columbia—Dr. Phil McCrary—Former Columbia HC
Banneker—Carlos Cliett—Former North Springs HC Heard County—Keith Simmons—Carrollton Asst. Stephenson—Dwayne McKinney—Former Southwest DeKalb HC Savannah Country Day—Hughes Barber—Asst. on staff Pepperell—Zach Mendence—Asst. on staff Hardaway—Kendall Mills-–Current Girls HC
Jackson-Atlanta—Travis Williams—Former Tennessee State HC Toombs County—Laberton Sims—Tift County Asst. Cross Keys—Duane Kelley—Former Alcovy HC Woodland-Cartersville—Colman Roberts—Former girls HC Pinecrest Academy—Terrance Vinson—Asst. on staff Mount de Sales—Duane Hunter—Asst. on staff Twiggs County—Andrew Johnson
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.