Last season, Justin Cofer and Chad Waddell helped pace Greenbrier High School to 19 wins and a state playoff berth in basketball. Each were four-year starters and helped the ’Pack get better each year during their prep careers.
Following their stellar senior campaigns, each garnered several awards. Cofer was named All-County, All-Area and All-Region. Waddell picked up county, area, and region honors, too, and he also was named the Eric Marshall Award winner as the Columbia County Player of the Year.
Both were offered scholarships at the conclusion of the season; Cofer signed with Erskine College and Waddell inked with Division-I Georgia Southern.
As the 2011-12 season gets under way, both will likely will be redshirted by their respective teams.
This is not a bad thing at all. It gives each a year to get their academics off to a good start. Also, they will have a full season of practice time under their belt without losing a year of eligibility.
For Cofer, a 5-foot-9, 155-pound point guard, getting stronger will be his primary goal this year. He also will need to work on his outside shot and learn Erskine’s system. He can handle the ball and is a good on-ball defender, but increased strength will help him on offense and defense. On defense, he will be able to use his body vs. the bigger guards he will be facing most nights.
For Waddell, this season could be the biggest of his career. He went from getting few looks to signing a D-I scholarship over the course of his senior season. He can shoot the basketball and that will likely be his role.
However, in order to be on the court at GSU, Waddell must improve other areas of his game. First on the list is speed. If he is going to get his shot off versus D-I competition, he needs to get quicker. He must also improve his ball handling. I am not saying Waddell is slow and can’t dribble; there is just a big difference in Class AAAA high school basketball and Division I.
Also, Waddell needs to spend this season covering the best and quickest guards at GSU. Improving his defense, especially on the ball, will put him in a much better situation for future playing time.
Several years ago, a player from Evans named Mike Freeman used a redshirt year to work on his game, and he went from being a mediocre high school player to a college All-American. Freeman, a 6-foot-6 forward, went to Middle Georgia Junior College back in the late 1980s. He spent his entire freshman season working on his outside jumper.
His improvement was so dramatic that he was able to sign to play at Georgia Southern, a team that had not even recruited him out of high school. He later transferred to USC Aiken, where he became one of the school’s all-time best scorers.
Freeman went from averaging eight points per game as a senior at Evans to pouring in more than 23 points per game at USC Aiken, and then playing professionally overseas for more than a decade.
I am not saying this will happen for Waddell or Cofer, but rather to illustrate what a redshirt season can do for a player if they use their time wisely and work hard.