Closing out the AAU season, several players representing two St. James Coastal Crew Rebel squads played in the the 6th Man Super Showcase at the University of South Carolina last weekend.
The showcase was directed by former Lander University assistant coach Sean Mims, who led the 120 participants, representing five states, through a series of full-court drills, preparing them for the two-day series of challenges and games.
"We took two Rebel teams and it was a really exciting weekend for us," Rebels founder Ernie Walthour said. "Anytime the kids get an opportunity to go to a different area to play basketball and understand the college coaching system, it’s going to be to their benefit and that is our goal here at St. James."Walthour said the camp had coaches and evaluators from Division II and II colleges as well as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. He said it was a great opportunity to exhibit the players’ talent, gain more exposure and increase the likelihood of obtaining college scholarships. "I had an evaluator personally tell me that Jordan Johnson was among the top three kids at that camp," Walthour said.
He said AJ Ansley, Mike Brown, Hakeem Golden and DJ Felder had tremendous performances on the court in front of the scouts.
"All those up and coming seniors really played well," he said. "The No. 1 thing was getting people to see our kids play and it gave our kids a chance to play in a different venue and experience a large setting. It gave the kids an opportunity to play at a major university, showcase their talents and be evaluated."
Walthour said it’s his priority to keep the athletes eligible academically.
"All the kids who went with us this weekend will participate in taking the SATs on Nov. 7," Walthour said. "Our goal is to make sure they are ready and on time for the exam. Also, we are watching their grades and transcripts to make sure they are up to par with their grades, so when they do take the SATs and we get calls from coaches, we can tell them what they need to do academically to stay on course."
Walthour said the recent success of the Rebels — 10 players signed college scholarships — has paved the way for the upcoming class.
"I told them they have to go in with the mindset that they have to stay eligible to play," the founder said. "Work hard in the classroom first. We tell them they must stay on top of their grades, have good attendance and stay on top of their homework. They can look back at the success we had this year … and see the path they must maintain to reach the same goals."
Walthour said he is grateful to the Osteen and Osteen Law Firm, whose continued commitment to the Rebels made the summer season and camp trips possible. He also thanked the St. James Sports Center.
The final rankings from the Super Showcase will be posted later this week at www.6thmanbasketball.com.