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South Georgia Kings develop talent, academic prowess
The 2008 16U South Georgia Kings - photo by Photo provided.
The AAU South Georgia Kings basketball team is gearing up for their tournament season, showcasing the talented squad of players from Liberty County, Savannah and the surrounding areas.
Since starting in 2002, originally called the Hinesville Kings, the organization was primarily a means of getting the kids exposure.
“We formed the organization around 2002 with Leonard Hall and Donell Woods Jr.,” Jessie Fleming, president of the organization said. “The 2002-03 season was our first season and we had 9 kids from Bradwell, 4 from Liberty and 2 from Long County. We have kids from all over the southern region now. We started this because teams from Atlanta always get all the hype, and for a while, we got nothing. But we measure up to those kids in skills and playing ability. We knew we could help the kids in this area get the exposure they deserve.”
It is a sentiment the 16U Kings’ coach and former Georgia Tech, NBA and CBA pro player Quantico Brown shares.
“We are probably one of the elite groups in this area,” Brown said. “When we show up at a tournament they know who we are. We are one of the powerhouse teams. If you look at our roster, man for man, we have some pretty good talent. We will be expanding this year with different players and different areas as people take notice and they want to get involved in what’s going on.”
Indeed the Kings’ roster does include some of the most outstanding talent within this region including Liberty County Panthers’ sophomore standout, Jordan McRae, who, according to ESPN and, is poised to be the number one NBA draft choice of the class of 2010.
But Fleming and Brown place the student aspect of “student athlete” first and foremost.
“We are a college prep organization and our staff are all ex-collegiate athletes,” Fleming said. “Academics is everything. You can’t go to school if you don’t have the grades. Academics always come before athletics and your transcript is your scholarship. You have some parents who talk about their kids and they complain that the coach is not doing this or that and we remind them that the coach is doing his part but it’s up to the kids to make the grade. That’s with basketball or any athletics.”
“It is getting increasingly more important to stress academics,” Brown added. “We are trying to get these kids scholarships and with the new requirements of 16 core classes in the state of Georgia, we are making kids aware of what they have to have beginning at age 13 so this doesn’t become a problem. Right now we are also preparing our kids to take the SAT and ACT tests. This is the time they need to be preparing as they approach their junior and senior year.”
Brown said to be eligible to play for the Kings, the kids must maintain eligibility to play at their schools.
Fleming said keeping academics first makes sense since most collegiate recruiters of Division I schools place that as a priority as well.
“We help academically and this gets their transcripts ready so when recruiters see them, they know they are eligible and meet the clearing house requirements,” he said.
Brown said his 16U squad probably has five kids who could go Division I as long as they maintain their studies.
“Basketball is 90 percent mental and 10 percent fundamentals,” Fleming said. “We are blessed to have Tico coaching our kids. He is a great teacher he shares our academic mission and has really taught the kids the fundamentals of basketball. In 2007 the University of Georgia took notice of six of the 15U Kings and invited them to an elite development and recruitment camp to assess their potential as future college players.
As the Kings prepare for the 2008 season they hope to find additional sponsors to help their gifted squad attend as many tournaments as possible to develop their talent.
Our player are good kids and athletes,” Brown said. “Some come from lower income families or military families whose parents are deployed or don’t have the financial means to support them at this level of athletic endeavor. These are young men that you can be proud of investing in. They are future leaders in our community.”
For more information on sponsoring or tournament and players information call Brown at (912) 271-9857.
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