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New post-graduate program welcomes first players
The first signees for West Academy’s post-graduate program
The first signees for West Academy’s post-graduate program include four local players from three schools, including two from Faith Baptist in Ludowici. Photo by Lewis Levine.

A new post-graduate program for basketball players is hitting the court – and more.

Darrell West, founder of West Academy, announced the first four signees of his program, which is designed to help players who have graduated high school but not yet entered college find a higher-level school.

“My goal is to give them best college-like experience I can possibly give them,” West said. “It’s a stepping stone to where they want to be. We want to help these guys know the door is not closed. You play for a year with us and we get you to where you want to be.”

His first class of signees includes Alex Forbes, Andrew Butler, Amir Jackson and Aneirin “Boogie” Jackson. Butler played at South Effingham High School, Forbes played at Statesboro’s Bible Baptist, and Amir Jackson and Aneirin Jackson played at Ludowici’s Faith Baptist Christian Academy.

Butler, from Rincon, played for the Mustangs through the 2021-22 season, and averaged 16 points and 6.2 rebounds per game his senior year. But he got injured and took a year off, and later played at Phelps in Pennsylvania.

Butler, who is 20 years old, sees his opportunity with West Academy as a second chance.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I’m grateful for another chance to play basketball. I’m ready to take it and see where it goes.”

The first four of the program will be doing some community work, West said, and their instruction will be faith-based.

“So they may catch a Bible class or two,” he said. “We will try to make them good men, productive men in society. That’s the goal of the program.

“Without Him, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” West added. “Faith Baptist is my church and they always support me on things I try to do for the community.”

Lewis Levine contributed to this report.

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