Liberty County High School’s two standout basketball players made their college commitments official Thursday, signing their names to scholarships.
Rion Brown and Jordan McRae played together throughout high school and on AAU leagues, but after their senior seasons as Panthers, McRae will head north to play for the University of Tennessee and Rion Brown will move south to the University of Miami Hurricanes.
“I’ve played alongside him since seventh grade so it was good to be signing with him on the same day,” Brown said.
“It’s the same for me,” McRae said. “It’s a great feeling and one less thing I have to worry about now.”
Brown and McRae both said they’re set on winning a state championship this year for the Panthers. Each athlete also hopes to see some playing time as college freshmen.
“We don’t do benches,” Brown said regarding the possibility of sitting out his freshman season.
The duo played briefly together on the South Georgia Kings AAU team where Brown’s dad, former pro basketball player Tico Brown, coached the boys. He said the signing was like having a dream come true.
“I told these kids back in the seventh grade this could happen for them,” he said. “And they worked hard and held up their end of the bargain. I’m extremely happy and it’s just a wonderful thing.”
Kings President Jessie Fleming said the scholarships are a testament to the talent of two kids who dedicated their spare time to training and practicing.
“They stayed dedicated and focused and did all the hard work in the classroom as well as on court,” Fleming said. “We now have two of the top 100 kids in the state coming from this community and that is a big thing. It’s happening here in Liberty County.”
“They started out in our youth basketball organization when they were just 12- and 13-years-old,” Kings coach Leonard Hall said. “And just watching them progress is what brought us out here today. They are building on their game and their character and that is what brought them here today, their hard work and their dedication.
McRae’s mother, Paulette McRae, said Thursday’s signing was the conclusion of a long journey.
“He’s always been athletic,” she said of her son. “He started out in baseball and ended up in basketball and basketball has been huge for him. It’s such a blessing to have my son’s college paid for.”
“I’m very excited about this day,” said Lisa Brown, Rion Brown’s mother. “Rion has put in a lot of hard work … I’m so excited for him and we are truly blessed.”