There’s a heck of a lot of good prep basketball being played around the area right now, and with so many good teams in such a small radius, it’s hard to be able to see it all.
With so many options within a 20-minute drive of the metro-Statesboro area, I figured I’d offer my thoughts on who you need to go see in person. By the end of the season, this list may look completely different, but right now, here’s the Top 3 players (how I see it) as we glide through the midpoint of the season.
For the record, they’re definitely not the only ones.
3. P.J. Reason, Screven County
With three big-time scorers, it’s hard to find an individual at Screven County that makes the Gamecocks tick.
When you talk about somebody who does a little bit of everything, it has to be P.J. Reason.
When you’ve got a post player who can get tenaciously after rebounds on both sides of the court and finish strong at the rim when he’s got the ball, it’s hard to ask for more. With Reason, you don’t have to ask.
Not only is he a force in the post, but he’s also not afraid to bring the ball up the court or step out to knock down a 3. He can notch a steal, an assist, a blocked shot, a 3-pointer and a five-star slam dunk in under a minute before even you know what hit you.
No, the Gamecocks haven’t had the season they’ve hoped for so far this season, but with three 20-points-a-night scorers, you can bet nobody will want a piece of SCHS come Region 3-AA tourney time.
And until then, they’ll sure be fun to watch.
2. Alisia Jenkins, Statesboro
One of the big-time players for the Statesboro Lady Blue Devils – who happen to be ranked No. 9 in state at the moment – is Alisia Jenkins.
It’s tough to pick one name off a team with so many threats and such a deep bench, but Jenkins is doing it all as a sophomore, and is just one of the reasons Statesboro has a bright, bright future ahead. And I’m not just talking about this year’s Region 2-AAAA tournament and on into state, but for years to come.
Much like Reason at Screven County, Jenkins is a threat in all aspects of the game. She routinely dominates the rebounding battle, can run the floor and pass like a point guard on the fast break, and, when left alone on the perimeter, can hit the outside shot.
Statesboro can beat you in a lot of ways but, when all else fails, it’s nice to know there’s a player like Jenkins who can take over on a moment’s notice.
Blue Devil fans likely won’t forget about what Mo Bennett was able to do at SHS, but Jenkins has been able to make sure they don’t miss her quite so much.
1. Chris Bellamy, Claxton
I’m not sure if Claxton’s Chris Bellamy has ever been the tallest player on the hardwood at any given time, but his combination of size, strength, and lightning quickness to the basket ensures that everyone knows he’s out there.
When the state’s coaches rank you among the Top 5 in Class A, you can bet it is a team effort, but Bellamy is one guy who, no matter what, can always find a way to score.
As soon as the ball touches his hands, it is already on its way off the glass and through the rim. If you get in his way, he’ll knock down a 12-footer or a fade-away jumper, and if you’re brave enough to foul him, he’ll make you pay at the line.
With the supporting cast he has around him, he’s never hesitant to chalk up an assist or five from the high post, and if you try to make something happen on the other end of the court, prepare for a blocked shot, a steal or a rebound.
This is no new development either. Bellamy has patrolled the post as a four-year starter for the Tigers, notching his 1000th point two weeks ago.
Take a trip to the south side of I-16, watch Bellamy take over a game, and it’s easy to see why the Tigers are off to a 15-1 start.
With Claxton’s second trip through the region schedule getting ready to roll around, we’ll see if Region 3A-A has figured out a way to stop Bellamy – if there is one.
Herald sports writer Mike Anthony contributed to this column.