As the basketball season starts up, there are several local high-school graduates to keep an eye on at the collegiate level.
Jordan McRae and Rion Brown
Arguably, the two most notable players are Liberty County High School’s Jordan McRae and Rion Brown.
McRae and Brown are entering their senior seasons at the University of Tennessee and the University of Miami, respectively.
McRae already has received several accolades. Last year, he was named to the All-SEC First Team. This year, he was named the SEC’s Preseason Player of the Year.
McRae was the Volunteers’ leading scorer last year at 15.7 points per game.
In the recent season opener, Tennessee got off to a slow start with a 67-63 loss to Xavier, but McRae led the team with 23 points.
Meanwhile, Brown had a big night Nov. 13 when he nearly hit a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Miami’s 84-69 win against Texas Southern in game three of the regular season.
Brown averaged 6.4 points per game last season and had the third-best scoring average in three NCAA tournament games with 11.7 points per game.
Brown also helped the Hurricanes earn their first ACC title in the school’s history.
The First Presbyterian Christian Academy Highlanders and the Coastal Crew Rebels also produced several players that continue to do well at the college level.
Former Highlander and Rebel Jordan Johnson played his first two years at East Georgia State College. This year, the junior guard will play for Tennessee Tech.
Johnson left his mark last year at EGSC, where he started in 32 games, played in 33 and led the National Junior College Athletic Association in three-pointers with 122.
Johnson finished first on the team in points per game (19.2) and second in both assists per game (3.6) and steals per game (1.7). He led his team to the Georgia College Athletic Association Tournament Championship and a No. 6 national ranking.
Johnson scored in double-digits in 33 games and recorded 30 or more points in four games. With Johnson leading the way, the Bobcats made it to the NJCAA Division I quarterfinals and a 31-3 overall and 19-1 conference mark.
Meanwhile, DJ Felder — Johnson’s former teammate with the Highlanders, Rebels and Bobcats — played his freshman season at St. Johns River State College in Palatka, Fla., before playing his sophomore season at East Georgia State College.
Felder averaged 14 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 47 percent from the floor. He had 11 double-digit rebound games and scored 10 or more points in 27 of his 33 games.
Reid, Craig, Watson, Blair and Motley
There are several other local players currently playing at East Georgia State College. Former Rebels Alex Reid and Deion Craig, former Bradwell Tigers Jalen Watson and Jonathan Blair and former Faith Baptist Christian Academy standout Jaquez Motley are trying to take the Bobcats to another NJCAA playoff year.
As of Nov. 13, Motley was averaging 11.2 points per game, Reid averaged 5.3, Watson 7.2, Craig 2.8, and Blair led the pack with 15.8.
Another former Rebel and EGC Bobcat, Tre Hagood, is now entering his junior year at Prairie View A&M University.
Hagood is off to a good start for the Panthers. As of Nov. 15, he has collected 30 points, seven steals, 18 assist and seven rebounds in three games.
Another local product, Jarquez Smith, briefly played for Highlanders and Rebels before moving to Jones County High School to finish his high school career as the Middle Georgia Player of the Year.
Smith had offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Georgetown, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina State and South Carolina, but ultimately he chose to play for the Florida State Seminoles, where he debuted his skills as a true-freshman starter.
Alston and Golden
Former Highlanders and Rebels Terrence Alston and Hakeem Golden are entering their senior and junior seasons, respectively, at Brewton-Parker College, where they play on the junior varsity squad.
Former Coastal Crew Rebel and Long County standout Ricky Rivera is entering his junior year at Voorhees, where he helped his team win the Association of Independent Institution Conference title last season.
Rivera played in all 32 games last season and averaged 11 points and two steals per game. This year, the Voorhees Tigers will compete in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference.
Faith Baptist Christian Academy’s JJ Frazier will begin his college career as a freshman at the University of Georgia. Frazier was considered the top point guard of his class in the state last year.
Last season, he averaged 26.5 points per game for the Crusaders. The team finished 26-5 overall and won the Georgia Association of Christian Schools state title.