No.1 St.Georges Jaguars set to repeat after landing top guard
By Buster Laing
Special to The FN
Coach Darrell Sears is a master salesman, he discovered and developed Magnum Rolle, former NBA player with the Atlanta Hawks and now he has landed one of the best players in high school from one of the top programs in The Bahamas: shooting guard Keno Russell from Tabernacle Baptist Academy and coach Sears also landed point guard Walter Hanna from Eight Mile Rock.
With shooting guard Keno Russell and an already solid 2012 class, don't look now, but the St. Georges Jaguars look like the early favorites to repeat as high school champions.
Led by Player of the Year candidate Russell, the team also returns 2011-12 stars like point guard Dontae Thompson, one of the top point guards in the country and last year's championship Most Valuable Player Antwan Bevans and Kendrick Davis, who coaches believe will have a breakout year.
Despite losing leading scorer guard Travis Rolle and Marciano Demeritte, this team is very talented, very talented.
"Folks have seen Russell play and say he is a good player, but they have not seen the best of him yet," said Sears.
"If our team is on and we are getting fair calls, on our worst night we would still probably win by seven."
Say what you will about the underbelly of high school recruiting and the used car aspect of many that succeed at the pursuit; we won't stop you, but none of that is new, this sustained level of recruiting is power.
Sears finds a new "Magnum Rolle "every year, works him relentlessly, showcases him to college scouts at his Jaguars' Showcase and sends him off, all while doing the same for two or three or four other players.
And then he does it again the next season with a new group.
Player development remains a cornerstone of practice. It's hard. It's demanding. It works. That's the pitch.
Kids and their parents, he believes, will flock for a fair chance in a proven system.
Last year The Jaguars captured their second Grand Bahama Secondary School Athletic Association senior boys' title in three years by beating the defending champion of the GBSSAA Tip-off Classic and the GBCHS Christmas Invitational, The Eight Mile Rock Blue Jays 53-50.
Two hotshot new coaches, two up-and-coming basketball dynasties, two public school powerhouses, Friends off the court and on the court... Darrell Sears vs. Quinton Hall.
The Principal of St.Georges Keith Barr said the win came not as a surprise.
"The potential was always there from September from the Tip-off Classic, we recognized that we had the talent.
"Being a big school we have a good feeder system from the junior school, so we will continue to build our programs and looking for more victories like this; so this was not a surprise," said Barr.
"In terms of school spirit and athletic scholarship opportunities, we also want the student athletes to excel in the classrooms and what is important for us is that they are not only doing well on the field, but that they are doing it in the classrooms."
The Jaguars lost to the Blue Jays in the championship game of the GBCHS Christmas, but this time around, the Jaguars rode the hot shooting hand of eleventh grader center Antwan Bevans, who went head-to-head against last year's MVP Ervin Lewis of Eight Mile Rock.
The fact that two players from Tabernacle Baptist Latrell Poitier and Keno Russell left to play for their nemesis and archrivals in Sunland Baptist Academy and St.Georges and Walter Hanna left Eight Mile Rock to also play with the Jaguars, makes this GBSSAA Tip-off Classic rivalry games a microcosm of everything that makes high school basketball so popular on Grand Bahama.
There's passion, bright school colors, chants from the student section and just the right amount of "hatred" on the court from the players to make the game that much more entertaining.
Bragging rights are often at stake for the entire student body (just ask St.Paul's College after upsetting Grand Bahama Catholic High School 19-18 at last year's tournament ) and the off-season just seems to go a bit slower when your team loses to its archrival.
Preview of the 2012-2013 St.Georges Jaguars
Team chemistry, the players know each other well...Keno Russell joins Dontae Thompson to form a formidable backcourt duo,that could arguably be the best back court in the nation.
Last year's MVP Antwan Bevans is back for his senior year and will provide the bulk and scoring inside with Kendrick Davis, who could be a sleeper this year and Walter Hanna will offer experience at the point guard position of the bench.
Lack of depth from the bench ...Who will step up from the bench?
Storyline To watch: Will Russell fit into the cohesiveness of the Jaguars' system or will it be the Keno Russell one-man show ...If he meshes they will be deadly, if he doesn't, the Jaguars will not be cutting down the nets on Tuesday night .
Key returnees: Dontae Thompson, Antwan Bevans, ,Kendrick Davis
New acquisition: Keno Russell, Water Hanna
Key Losses: Travis Rolle, Marciano Demeritte
© 2012 The Freeport News