Former Coastal Crew Rebel and Bradwell Tiger basketball player Derrick Nesbitt, along with three of his Hinesville basketball friends, were among the 40 prospects selected for East Georgia College’s inaugural basketball team, led by first-year coach Neil Bailey.According to an article in the Forest Blade, Swainsboro’s newspaper, Bailey said it was obvious the Hinesville four, Nesbitt, Andre Holliday, William Jackson and Joseph Owens, had already developed good on-the-court chemistry. They’ve been playing recreational, AAU and pick-up games for years.
"It was obvious right away that these young men had a love for the game and a hunger to succeed," Bailey said. "These are the type of young men that we will build our program around. They are great young adults, good students and they aren’t afraid of hard work."
Nesbitt said Holliday told him the school was putting together a team, and he was determined to make the squad.
"I decided I would go out there," Nesbitt said. "Then we went to orientation and they told me more about the program and we got serious and went to the gym every day before school started."
Nesbitt, who played the No. 2 position as a Tiger, said Bailey is looking to put him in the No. 1 spot. He said he’s trying his best to impress the coaching staff.
"The coach has us in the weight room, which is new to me," he said. "And we are doing all kinds of drills in the gym and I’m trying my best at everything they give us."
"He always came to practices and was always willing to work hard," BI coach David Linderman said of Nesbitt. "He never complained about anything and has a really good spirit about him."
Nesbitt’s mother, Valerie, said she is proud of her son, who plans to study computer science in college. She credits C.C. Rebels coach Ernie Walthour for being there during difficult times.
"I owe thanks to Ernie," Valerie Nesbitt said. "When Derrick was in high school and acting out, I always asked Ernie to talk to him. I’m a single mom and it’s been hard, but I knew with basketball he would have to keep his grades up. And it got him through high school and hopefully it will get him through college."
"He never lost the sight of wanting to play at the college level," Walthour said. "We knew he could. He went to a few places to try out, but finally landed a place to play. ... We never stopped trying to make calls and find a place for him to get in."
Holliday is also excited about being a member of the new team. He said the coaches plan to play him as a small forward. The athlete, who will study business administration, caught Bailey’s eye with his ability to slash at the basket and score above bigger players. Holliday said he is getting ready for college-level basketball. He played recreationally and for AAU in the summer but did not play in high school.
"I know I have to get bigger," he said. "Everybody is bigger than me on that side of the court, so I need to get bigger in the weight room."
Bailey said Hinesville natives Jackson and Owens also impressed him. The coach said Jackson has the ability to play against much taller opponents and may emerge a team leader, and Owens has the potential to be an outstanding defender and rebounder. Owens was a former swimmer for the Liberty County Recreation Department’s Hammerheads team and a lifeguard.
"East Georgia College has so much to offer its students — a beautiful campus, top-notch facilities and an outstanding faculty and staff," Bailey said. "I think that we have everything in place to be competitive in the GJCAA in the near future. The Hinesville four will be working very hard to make that happen."