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White, ’Dawg hoop seniors, looking to increase Blevins’ list of ex-BHS college players

Bearden’s tradition of basketball excellence starts in high school, but the Bulldogs are starting to spread word of its program in the college ranks as well.

Though the 2005-2006 college basketball season is history, 10 players from Bearden High School set foot on the hardwood at the collegiate level this year.

“We have got more people playing college ball then all the other K-I-L schools put together and we put a lot of pride in placing so many kids in college,” BHS head coach Mark Blevins said. “We are looking for three of our guys to sign this year too.”

Tony White Jr. heads the Bearden Class of 2006 who hope to play college basketball somewhere next season.

According to Blevins, White has been offered scholarships by Division 1 schools Furman and Radford. The coach also said that Arkansas State showed some interest in him at the Class AAA state tournament in Murfreesboro.

“Tony’s situation would be to wait one more year before he goes D-1 to try to get stronger and bigger or he can go right in to Furman or Radford,” Blevins said. “It is just his decision with whatever he wants to do.

“If he wants to play now D-One, he’s got a couple offers and if he wants to wait another year he may have others but the ball is in his court.”

Among the others from the 2006 class who hope to move on to the college level are B.J. Ware and Rande Sibley.

“They are going to have several choices; Anderson in South Carolina and several of the junior colleges in Tennessee,” Blevins said. “Rande was being recruited by King College but they have a new coach now and I don’t know if they will still have interest.”

Having players reach the college level is something that Blevins and the Bearden basketball program take great pride in. “It’s great because when you look at our program we have just been very fortunate to have good players that pay attention to the detail and secure their fundamentals enough where they are going to be recruited to the next level,” the coach said. “And it’s nice to have some ties to where I can maybe help the guys out from time to time.”

Of those playing in college during the 2005-06 season, senior point guard Alex Oliver of Alabama State is arguably the most notable. “He had a stellar career at Alabama State and he was a four-year starter,” Blevins said. “He played well for them.”

Post Winston Robinson finished out his career at St. Francis in Pennsylvania this past season as a starting power forward.

Senior Andrew Metz closed out a solid career at King College. “He was a defensive stopper for them,” Blevins said. “He has been a role player and came off the bench for them and did a really good job.”

Trae Watkins finished his junior year at Tennessee Temple. “He is their starting post and he led the team in rebounding and blocked shots and is playing really well,” Blevins said.

Ryan Whitlock missed his junior year at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga due to injury. “He got injured and didn’t get to play this year,” Blevins said. “I don’t know whether he will play again or not but he would be a senior this year.”

Nathan England, a 2005 BHS graduate took Whitlock’s spot on the UTC roster. “He is a freshman and he is not going to get to play much as a freshman, but he is on the team and U-T-C had some success this year,” Blevins said. “They got to the championship of the Southern Conference Tournament.”

Gerald Hodo just finished his sophomore season at St. John’s in Jacksonville, Florida. “Has been playing well at the junior college [level] and hopefully he will go on and finish up at a four-year school,” Blevins said.

Post Jeremy Holliday finished his sophomore season at Maryville College as a two-year starter. “He has started almost every game in his two year career,” Blevins said. “He is their top defender inside and one of their leading rebounders.”

Mario McClunie ended his second year at Hiwassee College in Madisonville after starting at point guard for the past two years. McClunie has signed with Lees-McRae to continue his college career.

Michael Blue left a mark this past season as a freshman at Hiwassee after red shirting for a season. “Michael led the team in scoring and rebounding this year and he still has another year left at Hiwassee,” Blevins said.

With this many athletes in college, Blevins tries to see as many play as he can, but admits it can be difficult. “I can’t go and see all, I try to go out and see the local guys. But I cant go down to Florida or Pennsylvania and catch a game on the weekend because usually on Saturday I am breaking down film and it will take me six or seven hours to get everything ready from the past week to the current week,” the coach said.

Despite all the hard work Blevins puts in to the Bearden basketball program, seeing his players move on to the next level is what makes it all worthwhile.

“To me it’s exciting because we have guys playing at the college level and I am very proud of each one of these guys,” Blevins said.


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