Thursday, March 20, 2014

Meet the Area's Basketballers: Patrick Lawrence

As many know, the Augusta Metro Youth Foundation, sponsor of "Will Avery Camps," "ABR Live," and "AugustaBasketball.com" activities, also sponsors the GAIS Eagles homeschool basketball program.  And expanding the scope and reach of the Eagles program this season caused Will and me to be unable to focus on the area basketball scene. But now that the season is over, we have time to not only populate GaisEagles.com with information about our homeschool team, but this site with information about the Augusta area. Evans High School's Patrick Lawrence is the subject of the first installment of our "Meet Augusta's Basketballers" series.

Highlights of Lawrence's 29 point explosion in sub-region championship game

Senior Patrick Lawrence (6'2" 180 lbs) led his Evans squad to an 18-11 record and another state tournament appearance, averaging 15 ppg, 8.4 rpg, and 4 apg, earning All Region (Class 2-AAAAA) and Columbia County News Times All Region honors.  Patrick is a great outside shooter (43% 3pt FG and 82% FT) who has the athleticism to attack the basket and finish, and defend at many positions.
He is also a fine student who sports a 3.1 GPA and a 1,100 two part SAT score.  It seems that when Patrick is not honing his basketball skills he is volunteering with Will Avery and me to run the many AugustaBasketball.com events.
Patrick’s ability to shoot, score, and defend; his academic strengths; and his character will be a great asset to a college basketball program after this spring’s graduation.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

GAIS Advances to NCHBC Nationals Elite 8



After seeing a 13 point halftime lead evaporate, the GAIS Eagles broke a second half tie and advanced to the NCHBC round of eight teams with a 71-61 win over the Indiana based Noble Whitley Warriors. Daquarius Johnson led all scorers with 23.  Kyle Brown and TJ Massenburg added 17 and 13 points, respectively.  Brown and Massenburg scored 22 of their combined 30 points during the second half when the game was most in doubt.

Enjoy the highlights above and stay tuned for news from Wednesday's elite 8 matchup with the Saline County Warriors (AR).  Tip off is 6:15 Central Time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

GAIS Advances to NCHBC Sweet 16



The GAIS Eagles were welcomed to Springfield, Missouri, Monday with a barrage of three pointers by the Wisconsin based SWCHA Saints. But the Eagles survived the Saints' 11 three point field goals and battles back from a 61-56 fourth quarter deficit to win 75-67 and advance to the NCHBC round of 16.
Jaylan Robinson led the way with 24 points, scoring from all over the court. Daquarius Johnson added 19 behind solid post play and good shooting.
The Eagles received valuable contributions from many players. Kyle Brown scored 7 second half points, including a fourth quarter three pointer that tied the game at 63. Seniors Sam Culbertson grabbed crucial offensive rebounds in the game's deciding minutes, and TJ Massenburg scored 9 points.

The Eagles play Indiana based Noble Whitley Warriors at 1:55 P.M.

Monday, March 10, 2014

GAIS Eagles to Compete in National Homeschool Championship Tourney

The GAIS Eagles varsity boys teams compete this week in the 2014 National Christian Homeschool Basketball Championship (NCHBC) tournament in Springfield, Missouri.  The tournament's varsity division includes nearly 100 teams from over 30 states.  This is GAIS's third trip to nationals.  The Eagles finished 9th and 7th in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
GAIS Eagles North (above) and South (below) as
featured in 2014 NCHBC program.

The GAIS Eagles North squad, winners of the recent NCHBC Southeast Sub Regional tournament, enter this week as one of four "number 1 seeds" in the tournament's Division 1 bracket.  The GAIS Eagles South team will compete in the Division 2 bracket.  Each GAIS team will play one game every day this week, beginning Monday.  The tournament is structured so the winners advance through the winners bracket until an "undisputed national champion" is crowned.  Losing teams fall to the tournament's consolation brackets.

The tournament includes several special features, including a ceremony recognizing All American and All Region performers and regional tournament champions.  There is a highly entertaining dunk contest, a three point shooting competition, All American and All Region games, and a closing ceremony where all ~325 teams are individually recognized for their achievements during the week.  The tournament's nearly 25 year history and its ability to draw ~7,000 homeschool basketball participants to one town for seven days are testaments to its significance in so many people's lives.  I'll try to update this site with highlights and stories throughout our week in Springfield!

Ahead for GAIS:

Tuesday, March 10 ----- 4:25 P.M.
Varsity Boys Division 1, 4A Quarterfinals
GAIS Eagles North versus SWCHA Saints (WI)

Tuesday, March 10 ----- 5:35 P.M.
Varsity Boys Division 2, Round 1
GAIS Eagles South versus Lebanon Rockets (MO)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Area's Best Ready to Square Off in All-Star Sunday.



     The first annual Augusta Metros All-Star Sunday will take place Sunday at Evans Middle School starting at 1:30 pm. Ball handling, speed, and shooting will be the first task at hand as players have to showcase all three in the Skills Competition. There will be many sharp shooters competing for the crown in the 3-point shootout. On the boys' side, the two front runners are Riverside Middle's Austin Canady and Eric Graham from GAIS. Graham is coming off a game where he made 6 3's and is as streaky as they come. For the girls, Faith Kneece from Mead Hall (Aiken, SC) is the favorite and has had a game where she knocked down 7 3's. Ellie Grindin (Riverside), Lexi Jeffcoat (Evans), and Marissah Tate (Columbia) will definitely put up a fight against Kneece for the 3- point crown.

     Not to take anything away from the other events, but the Shooting Stars competition may be the most exciting. In this event, faculty members will team up with a boy and girl player from their school to make a layup, free-throw, 3- pointer, and a half court shot the fastest. Columbia Middle and Evans Middle will have their principals participating, while I (Former Duke University and NBA player) will team up with Grace Culbertson and Xavier Harrison to represent GAIS.

     In the Grand Finale of the day, the All-Star games will be very competitive. The girls' East team features Yasmine Avery, Caroline Johnson, and Georgia Smith from the Columbia County Champs Riverside. Avery and Smith also teamed up on the Greenbrier High JV squad to win another county title this past week. Parker Ray, Caitlin Cox, Danita Baker, and Riley Wagaman, all from Stallings Island, teamed up with the Riverside group, will make the East group very strong. The West team is lead by the sharp shooting Jeffcoat, Bobbi Wardwell (Westminister), and Lauryn Saunders (Columbia) and will make things interesting.

     When looking at the boys' West roster, speed and athleticism stick out and it seems they do not have any weakness. In my opinion, the area's best middle school big man, Germane Armstrong, leads the way. The back court has speed and size with Chance Fugghett, Harrison, and Emanuel Bryson (Columbia). Long range bomber Graham will be salivating if these play-makers can create and find him for open looks. The boys' East group has more of the team players, but do not under estimate them; they are All-Stars. Artest Banks (Lakeside) is the most talented player on the squad and should provide offense. Canady can really fill it up and has the luxury of playing for his coach, Corey Warren, which should lead to some plays to get him good looks. Will Dorn (Augusta Prep) was the best player and won the Championship in the area's private school league. I look for Corey Warren, Jr. (Riverside) to challenge the guards from the west and make this a great game! Everyone come out and enjoy a great day of hoops!

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Walk On"

 

Series 1: The Jaguars - Who Are They?
Interview # 3

By: Keenan Mann
 
I watched a documentary recently about Sam Bowie called Going Big.  For those unfamiliar with Sam’s story, I’ll summarize it by saying he was a great high school and college basketball player who would have probably been a great pro player as well.  But despite all the promise his basketball future seemed to hold, his two biggest claims to fame ended up being that he was picked ahead of Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA draft and that he broke his legs – a lot -  playing basketball.  I provided that background not because I intend to talk at length about Sam Bowie, but rather to set up a comment one of his college teammates, Dirk Minefield, made in the documentary.  It was in response to an apparent question about Bowie having been thrashed by Ralph Sampson in an elite high school all-star game that took place just prior to his entering college at the University of Kentucky.  Dirk said Sam actually benefitted from the experience of being outplayed by Sampson because he showed up on campus and “worked like a walk-on.”  Almost as soon as my brain had processed the words, I could visualize with absolute clarity what Dirk was describing because I had played a few years in college with a walk-on named Jarrod Dubose Schmitt. 

Those of you who’ve read the second interview (“41”) will recall Jarrod’s name as he was mentioned in one of Derek’s responses and also in one of my footnotes. This interview arose out of the notion that there might be a value in developing Jarrod’s story beyond a couple of passing comments.  So, after having absolutely no contact with one of my favorite teammates for 21 years, I reached out to Jarrod Dubose Schmitt to gauge his willingness to participate.  See the text of our virtual reunion below:

………………………………………………………………….

Me:  Is this “The” Jarrod Dubose Schmitt?

JDS:  Who is this?

Me:  This is one of the people who used to beat up on you at Christenberry Fieldhouse – long before it was called that.  Keenan

JDS:  SKINNY?!?

Note:  I think in the annals of nickname history there has never been a more appropriate one conferred.  My physical stature was in some ways quite a disadvantage (imagine being a 6’6”, 170 lb. freshman post player) and in some ways a huge blessing (imagine again being a 6’6” 170 lb. freshman post player).   But that’s another story for another time.  Suffice it to say that for four years I was called by that name at least as much as I was called ‘what my mama named me’.   Every time one of the guys from those days refers to me that way I break out in a broad grin.  Good times.

Me:  What’s up man?!!

JDS:  Oh, not much.  It’s only been what, twenty years?!?

Me:  Been a long time.  A lot of years.

Note:  That was a reference to a Sanford and Son episode which probably nobody will recall but me (and maybe Go-Go.  Still, it made me laugh.

Me:  Hey, I need a favor.

Note:  Up to this point the dialogue had been a rapid fire back and forth.  Then Jarrod went silent for a while.  So I figured he thought this favor was going to cost him something.

JDS:  You’re not trying to get me to join Amway are you?

Note:  Just like I figured!  I almost went into a fake Amway sales pitch just to see how uncomfortable I could make him, but I didn’t.

Me:  Naw man, I’ve been doing some interviews with past players and I want to make you a subject.  I need an email address so I can send you some questions.

JDS:  Ok.  I’m not going to be the white kid in the book that didn’t play much and kept the team GPA up am I?

JDS:  Oh wait!!!  I was!!

Me:  LOL!  Wait a minute now.  I put it down in the classroom too.

JDS:  You sure did, but I don’t recall Clint calling you out in practice like he did me!  Ruined any image I had managed to build.

Note:  Because it’s so easy to learn about almost anything on the internet, I can tell you that an English monk named Geoffrey Chaucer once said, “Many a truth is spoken in jest”.  Jarrod might have been kidding here, but only just.  I’m sure the pressure he felt to “fit in” was enormous and he might have even halfway interpreted being a good student as being uncool to some of us fellas. 

JDS:  Cannot tell you the thousands of stories that have been permanently burned on my brain.

JDS:  What line of work are you in?

Me:  I’m the B2B director for a large appliance manufacturer.

JDS:  You hiring?  I’m getting tired of these kids

Me:  Not right now, but you certainly could skip a couple of rounds of interviews if I were.

JDS:  I’m kidding about the job.  Education has been good to me. Guess who our basketball coach is?

Note:  I knew he was kidding.  But I wasn’t.

Me:  Who?

JDS:  None other than the former South Carolina standout and former Chicago Bull, JoJo English

Me:  No, really?  Does he remember we almost kicked their asses on opening night in the new gym?

JDS:  We revisit it almost daily.

Me: (Perhaps being too nosy):  Is he doing it for the love or does he need it?

JDS:  I’m not sure.  He played professionally for a good while.  He’s working on his teaching certification and has been coaching around the midlands for the last couple of years.  This is his first head coaching gig.

Me:  Basketball pays the bills for so few of us

JDS:  No kidding.  I gotta be at the games anyway, so I figured I’d take on the PA job and make a few extra bucks.  But I wouldn’t say it paid any bills.

Me:  What’s your day job?

JDS:  Believe it or not, I’m an assistant principal.

Me:  I believe it.  Anyway I’ll send the first round of questions soon and may have some follow up questions as well.

JDS:  I look forward to it.  Great hearing from you.

End of reunion and beginning of interview………………………………………………………………

 

ABR:  Did you play high school basketball; I mean where did you play high school basketball?

JDS:  I played at Grace Christian School, a very small private school in West Columbia, SC.  At the time, the only graduate to play at the college level could still be the case.

Note:  He completely missed the joke in the first part of the question.  I’ll do better. 

ABR:  Are you dunking yet?

JDS:  OUCH!!!! Much like you got offended about “putting it down in the classroom, too!” I am deeply hurt by that question.  Although, I only dunk donuts these days!  Students over the years have asked, “DuBose, can you dunk?” My response is always, “20 years and 40 pounds ago, yes!”

Note:  Bull’s-eye!  For the record, I do remember Jarrod dunking.  His offerings were never the prettiest sight, but in the technical sense, they met all the requirements to be thusly named.

ABR:  What made you decide to attend Augusta College? 

JDS:  My aunt was a long-time English professor at AC.  I decided to attend AC before I knew whether or not I was going to be able to play ball there.  I have in my head that I attended both Coach Bryant’s and G. White’s basketball camps the summer before my senior year in high school.

ABR:  Was it always your intent to try and play basketball?

JDS:  I like your phrasing of that question, “…to try and play…”  Yes, it was all I wanted to do.  As a freshman or sophomore in high school I decided that I was going to go to college, play basketball, major in Physical Education and coach basketball in high school and be able to tell my players what it took to make it to and at the next level. 

Note:  I actually wasn’t joking there. 

ABR:  What years did you play for AC?

JDS:  Well, play is a relative term!!!!  I was a team member from ’90-’93.  I ruptured a disc in my back mid-Junior year and did not play my senior year. 

ABR:  What was your major?

JDS:  Health and Physical Education with a minor in Education

ABR:  For the life of me I can’t remember how you were introduced to the team.  I mean, I vaguely remember Coach introducing you to us as Jarrod Dubose Schmitt (rather than Jarrod, or Jarrod Schmitt, or Schmitty or something like that), but I don’t recall the circumstances that brought about your joining the team.  We didn’t have tryouts, so how did that all go down?  And did you tell us to refer to you by all three names?

JDS:  As I stated in a previous question, I attended Coach Bryant’s and G. White’s camps and began talking with then assistant coach Ken Crapps, I think that was his name.  Anyway, he and I communicated a bit throughout my senior year and then I believe he left the program and Dip took his place.  I can’t remember if I talked to Dip or if my aunt did or what, but he (Dip) found my aunt on campus one day prior to the start of the school year and asked her if I was still planning on attending AC.  She told him yes, and he asked her to get me to come see him when I got there.  I found him as soon as I could that first day and he said that we started preseason conditioning that afternoon and to show up at so and so time.

As far as being introduced, I’m with you, that’s a little cloudy.  I’ll explain a bit more in a later question about that first day.

Now about the name, the great Cedric Hurst, one of my very favorite teammates, dubbed me Schmitty, which is what most people called my father.  I remember having to explain the three names about 5,000 times, but I highly doubt I asked anybody to refer to me as Jarrod DuBose-Schmitt.  Coach Bryant always lost the DuBose and it was simply, Jarrett Smitt, which if you check the spellings, gives it quite a different pronunciation. Big Rob Harris always called me Jahrod Double Shit, he thought that was quite clever!!!!

Note:  His name was Ken Crapps!  And if Cedric Hurst ever reads this or is reminded of that name he’ll hurt himself laughing about the time Coach Crapps made him make up his hotel bed before he left the room while he was in Augusta on his recruiting visit.  That, in my opinion, was one of the all-time funniest stories ever told over the four years I was there.

ABR: Did you know anything about any of us or any of the coaches before you walked in the gym that first day?

JDS:  I had met and worked with G. White at his camp, as previously stated, and I believe one or two of you worked either his or Coach B.’s camp.  So, yeah, I had a little info on the coaching staff and one or two of you guys.  I actually went to see AC play the Univ. of SC during my junior year in high school. 

ABR:  If you can still recall, describe how you felt walking in the gym for practice that first day.  Do you have any memories, good or bad?

JDS:  Oh boy, do I!!!  I remember what I was wearing!  I had on a pair of green Umbro shorts and a pseudo version of a polo shirt with a 4-H logo on it from the summer camp at which I had worked.  Now, mind you, we were simply running for an hour or so, but the looks from all of you guys… If I could redo that wardrobe choice, that might have helped with the team’s initial impression of me!!!!  It was during that practice that I became aware you guys were in a different league- without a basketball even being dribbled, passed, or shot.  It’s just one of those gut things.  I knew this was going to be a bumpy ride!!

Note:  I had forgotten this, but Jarrod did such a good job of describing what he had on that it all came back to me.  And I imagine we did give him some crazy looks kind of like we did guys who’d wanted to play pick-up with us wearing sweat pants, jeans, and even baseball caps.  As was customary, they’d say “I got downs”, and we’d either ignore them or tell them somebody else already had it.  Then we’d just ‘run it back’ once the current game ended, much to the dismay of the ill-dressed bystander.  Jarrod sure is lucky it was a conditioning day and not a pick-up day.  

ABR:  How long did it take for you to feel like a full-fledged member of the team?  Did you feel like it was harder to gain the respect of any particular teammates?

JDS:  What’s today? Friday? Then, today.  I feel like this makes me a full-fledged member.  Seriously though, I remember as we started that season, Coach B. was wrapping up a practice with us and we hadn’t yet played an official game, and he mentioned that we might have a traveling roster and that some may not make that roster, and that some would make that roster and what have you (Coach B. talk for those that know!!)  Well, as you may recall, we were on the road for 8 straight, I believe.  I was petrified that if I didn’t make the first travel roster, I’d be sitting in Augusta by myself for the months of November and December.  When that first game came and I was on the bus with you guys, I thought, maybe, just maybe I was okay. 

Note:  I can tell you when his acceptance day was.  It was the day after practice, in his sophomore year, when Ced (Cedric Hurst) announced that Jarrod had just cursed.  Took him a year and a half to utter a curse word and complete his initiation requirements!  Seriously though, the moment he joined us on the baseline to run sprints, he was one of us.

ABR:  Who on our team (besides you of course) do you think never really got the credit they deserved and why?

JDS:  First off, I don’t really think I deserve any type of credit.  I was just a dude trying to play and not very well most days!  I think that Gerald Daise is one that should’ve gotten more credit but not for his playing ability.  I, like Derek, was in constant amazement of Daisy’s range, but what many people didn’t really know was that Daisy was an awesome guy all the time!!!!!  I remember the team doing a media day for the community and when the little kids would go up to Daisy, he would engage them in a conversation, ask them about their school, what they wanted to be when they grew up, like Santa Claus.  He always had the most pleasant demeanor and always the biggest smile.  We lost a good one way too early. 

Note:  Two things.  First, I was kind of joking about Jarrod not getting credit.  We’ve gotta get in sync.  Second, amen on the Gerald Daise comments.  He was a great player and great person.  He died of cancer in November of 1997.  For all the fans of the movie Cooley High, “This is for the brothers who ain't here” – Cochise.

ABR:  You had a unique experience as a basketball player.  I mean if I were to use a military analogy, you were well drilled but didn’t see much live fire.  What or who comes to your mind first when you think about all those practices you went through?

JDS:  Buck Harris.  I think Buck made it his personal mission to try to get me to quit my freshman year.  As I have told many people many times, I spent more time on the floor that first season than I did upright on two feet.  Buck made a man out of me.  I always thought he just didn’t care for me, thought I didn’t belong, whatever, but he was toughening me up.  Later that season, I can’t remember if the season was over or not, but Buck wanted to know if I wanted to grab some lunch or supper.  My initial thought was, “Why me?”  Anyway, we went to Hooters and, in my mind, I had earned Buck’s respect.  He is the one teammate that helped me the most on the court because he didn’t take it easy on me.  He knew how to push you as a player to make you better; he certainly did that for me.    

Coach B. always had a practice schedule posted. While everyone was shooting around, warming up before we really got started, I’d run over there and check to see if any Vegas were on there.  God, I hated those. 

Note:  The Buck Harris theme continues.  And as for the ‘Vegas’ thing Jarrod referred to, they were cross court sprints.  We had to complete sixteen of them in 30 seconds or less.  And we ALL hated them.

ABR:  As you look back on all those practice days, do you think there was anything about those experiences that has been of lasting value to you?

JDS:  Getting through them.  In life, you will have many road blocks, speed bumps, and wrong turns.  I thought about hanging up the sneakers many, many times.  I look back and wonder how and why I stuck it out.  That persistence has been with me for over two decades.  

ABR:  Have you read the other interviews?  If so, what did you think?  And I’m not looking for your critique of the writing.  This is all practice for me, so mistakes will be made.  I want to know if anything in either of the interviews triggered any thoughts, memories or emotions from you.

JDS:  I did, and I thought they were fantastic!  I enjoyed the one with Brian simply because I heard all about him my freshman year, but unfortunately, never had the good fortune of playing with him.  The one with Derek brought back a flood of memories.  And just so he knows, no offense was taken on his comment about my jersey needing to be hung, too. I’m all for that; I’m gonna call Dip and Clint right now and get that process started. Seriously, I too, loved the notes!  (And tell our Hollywood friend that Don Cheadle is in House of Lies, not House of Cards- that’s Kevin Spacey and he talks to the audience as well.)  As I read them, I could picture who they were talking about and where they were talking about.  Everything was as if I was on campus at practice yesterday.   

ABR:  If you have read the other interviews, you will recall that I made reference to what you said to me as I pulled my jersey off for the last time.  Do you remember that?  If so, do you have any recollection of my response?

JDS:  I do remember that.  I remember knowing that it was important for me to tell you that and I was a little “iffy” as to whether that was a good time or not, but I knew that I wanted you to know that.  I believe that I shook your hand and the only thing that I recall you doing, and I hope I’m not making this up, was shaking it back and saying thanks.  Please, let me know what I’m leaving out.  

Note:  That sounds about right to me.  I was never a man of many words, and I was definitely at a loss at that particular point in time.

ABR:  I’m not trying to get you to stroke my ego but can you tell me what prompted you to say that to me?  As I said, I’ve never forgotten it and I doubt I ever will.

JDS:  Like I said, even at the end of the season, I still knew you guys were in another league.  I was always in awe of your ability, your work ethic, and your silent leadership, all of it.  One of my three favorite memories of you is when we were in the old gym, running the weave to get practice started and you came through the lane, caught a bounce pass and knocked it off of your shoes and dunked it behind your head.  Everybody stopped. Every jaw dropped. Coach B. finally yelled, “Let’s go, let’s go!”  I continue to tell that story; it was unbelievable to me that I was on the same team!  Your talent, drive and demeanor made a lasting impression on me. You were who I looked to when I wasn’t really sure how to act.  You wore leadership like a comfortable old shirt, not a freshly pressed suit.  I always admired everything about how you handled yourself on and off the court.  It truly is my honor and my privilege to call you a former teammate. 

Note:  Wow, for the second time in an interview.

 I was a kid then and I’m sure I didn’t really know what leadership was.  As far as what Jarrod observed though, all I was really trying to do was not embarrass myself or my family and not put Coach in the position of having to account for my actions or to regret his decision to offer me a scholarship.

ABR:  My recollection of you as a teammate was that you worked extremely hard and you always had a positive attitude.  Did you bring those habits with you to campus or did you pick them up while you were there?

JDS:  I believe that I have to give thanks to my parents for those attributes.  I remember winning the best attitude award my freshman year and my father couldn’t have been prouder.  He said that meant more to him than any athletic accomplishment.  The trophy is on my bookshelf in my office to this day.  My high school playing days taught me how to be a gracious loser!  We didn’t win a whole lot of games, but we lost with pride and left it all out on the floor. 

ABR:  Do you have any regrets about your playing days?

JDS:  I don’t know if I’d call it regret, I just wish I’d been a better player.  Other than that, I tell anyone that will listen that basketball took me all over the country to play all kinds of great teams with great guys.  Hard to beat that!

Note:  I think any basketball player who’s honest with himself wishes the same thing.  I know I do.

ABR:  If you could go back in time is there anything you would do differently?

JDS:  Besides the first wardrobe selection?  I probably wouldn’t sign up for that credit card in the CAC that day; that dang thing got me into all kinds of trouble!  Basketball wise, I don’t know, I would love to say that I would work out more or try harder, but that wasn’t me. I never possessed the drive that most, if not all, of you guys had/have.  I loved the game, I loved the team, and I loved the school.

Note:  Good advice on the credit card.  I also agree with him on the wardrobe thing.  The Umbro shorts and golf shirt thing was a bad scene.  As far as not possessing the drive, I’m not so sure about that.  I came across a few slacker teammates over my four years. One of them was so bad that we nicknamed him The Invisible Spann (for his last name and his frequent absence from practice or any activity that required breathing with your eyes open).  Jarrod was about as far from that guy as you can get.

ABR:  Imagine this:  You’ve been commissioned to write a book about how to succeed as a college basketball player.  The only constraint the publisher has given you is that the book can only be three chapters long.  Can you give me the titles for the three chapters? (Feel free to add as much context or color as you’d like)

JDS:  Um, why are you asking me that question? I might be commissioned to write a book about how to survive as a college basketball player!!! Now if that was the case, I think I can script the titles for the three chapters.

Chapter One – Preparation – For a guy like me, it needed to be more mental than physical.  I had to adjust from going from a big fish in a small pond to a minnow in the ocean!  You guys played more games your senior year in high school than I played in my high school career. 

Chapter Two – Know Your Role – I was a practice player.  I loved how you put in your note that I gave a 100% every time I stepped onto the practice floor.  That’s where I did my job.  Doc, Cliffy, and I always used to joke about me being a warm-up all American.  Doc would always ask me how many I got first half.  I loved that!!! Then it became a joke with me and one or two of the women’s team members. 

Chapter Three – Enjoy the Ride – I loved being a part of the team.  I loved being able to say that I was there!!  I love being able to recall the stories of playing against Georgia Tech, playing in the LA Sports Arena, and in all of the other great places that we got to go.   I love the memory of us being in the elevator at the hotel in Florida with members of the group of Alice in Chains going one way and Woody Harrelson going the other way.  Who gets to do that??  I did!

Note:  I might argue with his inferred assessment that he merely survived, but I won’t argue with those chapter titles or the context behind them.  By the way, John “Doc” Sullivan was the trainer and Cliff Pounds was the equipment manager.  They were both closet comedians too and we were all fair game.

ABR: The book is a smash hit now and you’re a famous author.  Your publisher fronts you the money for a second book.  He wants this one to also be 3 chapters long and he wants the title to be, “What Basketball Taught Me About Life”.  Can you give me the titles for those three chapters as well?

JDS:  Chapter One – Give It Your Best Shot – Again, I didn’t possess the skills that you guys did, so I had to work with what I had.  I tried to leave it all on the floor each and every day.

Chapter Two – Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Many, many, many times I thought I was done.  Whether it was a poor day on the practice floor or an injury or too much ribbing from teammates, I tried to make it-even if it meant faking it along the way.

Chapter Three - Be Thankful – Always, always be thankful for what you have or what you have been given.  Very few people ever get the opportunity to do what we did.  While I never got the playing time or athletic accolades, I was there, and I am thankful for every second. 

Note:  I think he could have sold the second book using the chapter titles from the first.

ABR:  You didn’t live in the apartments/dorms with the rest of the team.  Did that detract from your college experience in your estimation?

JDS:  I don’t think it did.  I lived with my aunt over in North Augusta.  I think the only issue was getting up a bit earlier to get to those 6 a.m. practices!!!  I don’t think it took away from my experience.

Note:  Six in the morning, G. White at my door.  I had forgotten about that.

ABR:  In the best game you had as a college player, what was your stat line?

JDS:  I had to think about this and do a bit of research because I feel that you might actually have it!  Most of my stat lines read DNP!!!  Not sure what the line would read but it would probably be 2 for 2 FG, 2 rebounds, and a possible assist.

Note:  I didn’t know this.  And I honestly don’t know what mine was either.

ABR:  I’m looking for you to say one of two names here.  Did you think any of your teammates were just a little crazy (for real)?

JDS:  Big Rob Harris and J-Boogie!!!  I loved them both, but Rob could be out there and Jermaine was well, just Jermaine!!

Note:  He picked two pretty good ones.  I’ll just leave it at that, although I was looking for one name to be different.  I think I’ll re-load that question with someone else.

ABR:  You mentioned you had a thousand stories burned in your head.  Give one or two of your favorites.

JDS:  The first we chatted about over text.  It was my freshman year.  We had just finished the first academic quarter and Coach B. gathered us up at the start of practice, like always, and he proclaimed that he had good news!!  No one was on academic probation.  There were several teammates that let out obvious sighs of relief.  Then, Coach B. states that we have one young man on the Dean’s List.  If I could’ve crawled under the bleachers, I would have!!  Mr. Jarrett Smitt!!  All eyes turned to me and I just gave a little wave.  We went on to shoot 1 and 1 plus 1s and my partner was Johnny Mize.  Johnny kept looking at me while we were shooting and I said, “What?”  He responded with, “Damn, you must be smart as hell!”

The second was after a practice that we had on MLK day in the new gym.  Coach B. wrapped up practice a little early and had us all sitting on the bleachers and talking to us about the significance of the day.  Now mind you, I happened to be the only white member of the team that year, and towards the end of his speech, he said and I believe this is verbatim, “And…Jarrett Smitt, is getting a hell of an experience, not because you guys are black and he’s white, but….but….because he’s a hell of a person!”  Cannot tell you how many of you guys gave me crap about that!!!

Note:  I was all ready to laugh until I got to the hell of a person part.  Very true.  It’s also very true that Coach could screw up a name.  Smitt?!

ABR:  What do you miss about your playing days?

JDS:  All of it!!! The free shoes, the free food, the free trips, the team atmosphere, being a cog in a larger mechanism.  It’s hard to say, just all of it!

Note:  That’s pretty much how everybody has answered that question. 

ABR:  Do you keep up with any of the guys?

JDS:  I have kept up with David Butler aka Butt/Butter.  We have stayed in touch over the years.  As a matter of fact, we worked together at camp one summer and I actually introduced him to his wife!!  Big Rob and I reconnected via Facebook in the last couple of years along with Bernard Pettiford.  Derek and I also chatted via Facebook as well.  Derek and Keisha actually lived in the same apartment complex as I did in Columbia a few years after school, you know, prior to Hollywood!  I went to see ASU play Francis Marion a few years ago and I got to see J-Boogie who was also at the game.

Note:  David Butler was the first white guy I knew with “hops”.  And I mean “HOPS”!  His dunks, unlike Jarrod’s, far exceeded the standards.  He was also hell of a teammate and a good guy.  It makes perfect sense to me that those two stayed in touch. 

ABR:  Was it always your intention to get into education?

JDS:  Yes, although it took quite a while for me to get there.  I finished my degree in ’94 and didn’t start teaching until ’02.  I held various jobs in different fields for eight years until my mother informed me that I probably needed to stop circling the runway and actually land the plane!

ABR:  I know you could tell me some stories about work that would make me shake my head.  If you could change one thing about the way public schools are run, what would it be?  And if that’s too hard to answer, give me two things.

JDS:  The main source of all issues is usually money!!!  Funding public education has always been a source of contention.  If we had more teachers, more supplies, more programs, etc, etc.  It would be great if educators weren’t spread so thin.  We also have federal and state mandates that come down the line that have to be implemented, usually without funding.  We are mandated to do things that are usually burdened upon the district or the schools to fund.  That makes day to day operations tough. 

Note:  Okay, I could argue that here, but I won’t.  Perhaps Jarrod might help me “unpack” that answer in a separate interview/forum someday.

ABR:  You don’t have any kids that are movie stars do you?

JDS:  Not yet!!! But I’m gonna get D-Mak’s book and see if I can make that happen.  Between my wife and me, we have 9.  Yes, 9!  So, we could probably have a reality show!  I’m gonna start shopping that idea!

Note:  I’m almost certain Jarrod messed up Derek’s nickname.  If he has, I’ll let number 41 even the score since Jarrod publicly corrected him as well.

ABR:  I think a few of your old teammates will read this and all of your old coaches (except maybe Crapps).  Is there anything you want to say to any of them?

JDS:  I want to thank Coach B and Dip for sticking with me.  He used to tell Dip, “That Jarrett, ain’t no punk!”  I would also like to thank David Butler for getting me through my freshman year.  Although, I only had that one year with him, he was instrumental in helping me get through the bumpy ride.  He has been a dear friend over the years.  Again, I would like to thank Buck Harris for making a man outta me!  All you guys have a special place in my heart and memories.  I already expressed my gratitude to you earlier in the questions!

Note:  I can hear Coach saying that, as I bet many of my former teammates can.  All you had to do was play hard and get up when somebody knocked you down for him to make that declaration.  He said that a lot about Jarrod and he was right.

End of interview…………………………………

I said in the opening paragraph that, because I knew Jarrod, I could immediately visualize what Dirk Minefield was talking about when he commented on how hard Sam Bowie worked when he came to campus.  But what hadn’t occurred to me until now was that working in that manner was just as much a necessity for Sam (the superstar) as it was for me (the marginal player lucky enough to get a scholarship) and Jarrod (the true walk on). Success as college athletes required us all to have the mentality of a walk on.  I think it follows logically that success beyond college, after we hang up the sneakers and “get on with it”, requires the same mentality.  There are always going to be ‘Ralph Sampsons’ waiting with humbling lessons for us.  Whether those lessons send us cowering or strengthen our resolve to succeed, in my opinion, will be determined by whether we consider ourselves among the scholarship-entitled of the world or among the walk-ons.  So, I guess if I were Jarrod’s book publisher, I might suggest to him a fourth chapter for either his first or second effort titled, “No Matter What Team You Find Yourself On and No Matter How You Got There, Work Like a Walk-On”

 
Augusta Basketball Report

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Augusta Metros Middle School Christmas Tournament Schedule Dec. 21


Saturday Dec. 21 @ Evans Middle

  9am: Langford vs Riverside (Girls)

10am: Columbia vs Riverside (Boys)

11am: Hephzibah vs Riverside (Girls)

12pm: Immaculate Conception vs GAIS 2 (Boys)

  1pm: Hephzibah vs Collins (Boys)

  2pm: North Augusta vs Evans (Boys)

Saturday Dec. 21 @ Aquinas High

11am: Pine Hill vs Glenn Hills (Girls)

12pm: Langford vs EDS (B) (Girls)

  1pm: Glenn Hills vs Sego (Girls)

  2pm: Riverside/Columbia winner vs GAIS 1 (Boys) Gold semi-finals

  3pm: Langford vs Glenn Hills (Boys) Gold semi-finals

  4pm: Gwinnett Barons vs EDS (Boys) (Silver Championship)

  5pm: TBD Girls Championship (Gold)

  6pm: TBD Boys Championship (Gold)