Usually when a player is in the running to be the county’s boys basketball Player of the Year, I have a great deal of information about the player. In most cases, I had seen him play in middle school, on the summer circuit, or at least as an up-and-comer in high school.
Well, a couple of years ago a player from Grovetown changed all that. His name was Michael Chandler, and he seemingly came out of nowhere to have a monster senior season for the Warriors in 2010-11. At the time, Chandler was a skinny 6-5 center. However, he had the wing span of a 7-footer and was one of the quickest leapers to ever play in Columbia County.
During that stellar campaign, Chandler put up some ridiculous numbers. He averaged 13.5 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 7.9 blocks. He led the entire CSRA in both boards and blocks and even posted four triple-doubles.
He earned First Team All-County Honors and finished just behind Greenbrier’s Chad Waddell for county Player of the Year.
Over the last couple of years I lost track of Chandler. I had heard he was playing junior college ball, but had no details other than that.
Well, recently I decided to do a little detective work and check up on Chandler. The once skinny 6-5 high school Center, was now a 6-8 standout at Hill Junior College in Hillsboro, Texas.
He had also emerged as one of the finest defensive players in the entire country.
Like his days at Grovetown, Chandler was putting up video game type numbers on the defensive end of the floor.
While he is only averaging 5.9 points per contest, he has been dominant in other areas for Hill JC. He currently is hauling down 11.6 boards per contest.
That number ranks him second in the highly competitive state of Texas and 13th in the nation.
His shot blocking has been even better. He swats an astonishing 5.1 shots per game, which is second best in the country.
He is one of the main reasons why Hill JC is 22-8 as they gear up for the Texas State JUCO Tournament.
His outstanding play has not gone unnoticed by recruiters.
Chandler had more than a dozen scholarship offers from 4-year programs. This fall he narrowed his list to SIU-Edwardsville, Steven F. Austin, Central Arkansas, and South Carolina State University.
In the end he chose to head to Illinois next year to play at SIU-Edwardsville. The school is located about 30 minutes north of St. Louis Missouri and about four hours south of Chicago.
They are a Division I Program that plays in the Ohio Valley Conference. And boy can they use Chandler. SIU-Edwardsville is 11-20 this season. They also do not have a single player on their team averaging more than 5.0 rebounds per contest.
Chandler averages more than double that number. They also have blocked a total of 94 shots this season -- as a team. Chandler has blocked 149 all by himself. His long arms and athleticism should give him a chance to shine immediately for the Cougars.
Chandler showed great promise during his senior season at Grovetown. Plenty of kids have great potential and let it go to waste. It is great to see that Chandler continued to pursue the sport he loves at the next level.
That he worked hard at this craft to emerge as a Division I prospect. Yes, this is a story I can’t wait to follow next year.
I would not be at all surprised in a couple of years if we see Chandler playing professional basketball overseas.
Not bad for a kid no one had heard of until his senior year.