Former First Presbyterian Christian Academy basketball players Frederick Heaggans and Michael Burnett have signed letters of intent to play basketball at the collegiate level.
Both players are headed to Olive-Harvey College, a branch of the City Colleges of Chicago.
Both led the Highlanders to back-to-back Georgia Independent School Association Class AA state runners-up titles.
According to Olive-Harvey’s website, Heaggans averaged 17 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds per game his senior year. He shot 90 percent from the line and 42 percent from the three-point range. He was the All-Region, All-State and GISA All-Star recipient.
According to stats posted on the National College Sports Association Athletic Recruiting website, Burnett averaged 21.2 points per game. He shot 90 percent from the line and 56 percent from 3-point range and averaged 6.83 assists per game.
Both also played AAU basketball for the St. James Coastal Crew Rebels under founder and mentor Ernie Walthour. During their signing ceremony, they held up a photo of the coach who was killed during an armed robbery three years ago.
"This means a lot for me to be able to play basketball … to be able to do what he wanted me to do," Burnett said about honoring Walthour’s memory by keeping his playing dream alive.
Heaggans was also moved saying, "This is a special moment for me … losing my coach … this was real important to me."
Burnett said he is suited to play any position as an Olive-Harvey Panther.
"It doesn’t make a difference because I am going to play hard," he said. "But when I was talking to the coach, he said guard, wing and around the perimeter. I can score, and I can defend
the one, two and three."
Heaggans said he is looking to play the one or two spot on the court. He added that the coaching staff saw him play in a tournament in Orlando, and he’s been speaking with the Panther staff since December.
Both men plan to study business administration.
They said watching former Highlander players like DJ Felder and Jordan Johnson, as well as former Liberty County players Rion Brown and Jordan McRae, inspired them. They added that it made them work harder to get this opportunity.
"Especially Bird (Jordan Johnson), that is my idol right there," Heaggans said. "I look up to Bird, that really inspired me."
FPCA assistant basketball coach David Linderman, who was also an assistant under Walthour for the Highlanders and the Coastal Crew Rebels, said Walthour would be proud of the players.
"They did a lot of hard work. They persevered and made it," Linderman said. "Now they just need to keep working hard, stay humble and keep the grades up, and they’ll do fine."
Current FPCA basketball coach Shane Smith said it was great to see.
"I am excited for both of them. They are really good kids," he said. "And anytime you get an opportunity to play at the next level and get an education … it’s good and exciting to see."
Smith said he thinks the players will be able to "seize the moment" and have great careers.