According to the Blue Tide baskeball coaching staff, several players from Long County’s boys and girls’ squads are getting the attention of college scouts and recruiters, especially after several players made the 2-AA All Region Teams.
The coaches think the players planning to return will keep them playoff-ready as they prepare for next season.
Tide standout Ricky Rivera signed with Savannah State University for football and basketball months before he made the 2-AA All-Region Second Team. Tide coach Deshon Brock praised the senior for accepting his new role on the squad.
"Ricky showed just how much of a team player he really is by accepting his role of coming off the bench, after being a starter," Brock said. "His benching was really a promotion. We needed some firepower off the bench and that’s what he gave us — instant offense and good pressure defense."
Rivera averaged 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals this season.
Tide player Jimmy Bacon, this year’s 2-AA co-player of the year, received scholarship offers from some junior colleges, such as Georgia Perimeter, North West Florida State, Chipola, Miami Dade, Tallahassee Community College and Gordon College. University of Massachusetts assistant coach Antwon Jackson also has placed calls to the Courier inquiring about Bacon.
"This was a breakout season for Jimmy," Brock said. "He really turned it on this year. He showed glimpses of greatness in seasons past, but this year he was consistently great and his numbers show that."
Bacon led the Blue Tide this year, averaging 25 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks a game.
Lady Tide coach Ryan Bailey said Lady Tide standout Brittany Mills received offers from several junior colleges. Georgia Perimeter offered her a full ride.
Mills made the All-Region First Team.
"Brittany is the type of player every coach dreams about coaching," Bailey said. "She gives everything she has on the court, always respectful and will run through a brick wall if you asked her to. I really don’t know what I’m going to do without her next year."
Shanetral Quarterman and Shareka Turner, both named to the All-Region Second Team, will showcase their talent in Albany this weekend and Bailey thinks it may open doors for college offers.
"Shareka was my defensive stopper this season," Bailey said. "She usually drew the opponents’ best player game in and game out. She played every position on the court. She brought hustle, dedication and drive to the team chemistry. Her presence will be greatly missed next year. Shanetra was the X-factor all year. As she went, our team went. She was the leading scorer for the season, but not just that she seemed to make big-time plays just when we need them. She is a prime-time player."
Tide senior Eli Guest is expected to receive offers as well after posting a season averaging 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks a game and receiving the honorable mention.
"Eli missed the first few games of the season and it took a few games for him to get with the team, but once he did, his game took off," Brock said. "He was our low post presence, and his ability to block shots enabled us to take chances on defense."
While the Tide will lose Rivera, Bacon and Guest and the Lady Tide will lose Mills, Quarterman and Turner, the coaching staff said the returning players, who also were recently recognized, will keep their squads playoff-ready.
"Justin (Boyd) stepped up this year as a vocal leader and captain of the team," Brock said of his recent All-Region First Team pick. "He was matched up with the opposing team’s best player (every game). He also had a career-high in every statistical category."
Boyd averaged 17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals per game.
Brock’s other two Honorable Mention nods, Donte Brown and Norman Thompson, also will return next year.
"Words cannot explain the gratitude and appreciation that I have for Donte," Brock said. "He doesn’t get a lot of recognition or glory for the things that he does, but he never complains. He just continues to hustle, grab rebounds and loose balls. He scored mostly off put-backs and steals. Any coach would love to have Donte play for him. Norman was the best Christmas present any coach could ask for. He transferred from Thomasville and fit right in. He’s a good basketball player and an even better person. We went on a 17-game winning streak after he joined the lineup. I think that speaks for itself."
Thompson had 12 points, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 rebounds a game. Brown averaged 8 rebounds and 6 points a game.
"India (Gamble) came on about the middle of the season," Bailey said of the returning Lady Tide player. "She had several 25-plus scoring performances this season. She is an all-around athlete and I am looking for her to step in and assume the void that will be left by Brittany. Caela (LaRochester)’s season was up and down. She has the most upside (potential) of anyone on the team. She played a major impact on defense this season with blocked shots and rebounds. Next season, she will have to assume more of a scoring role."
Bailey said his bench will be deeper with five returning varsity players.
"The ladies are working hard in the weight room and conditioning," Bailey said. "We will have an extensive summer program (35 games). Overall, we should be competing for a region championship next year."