Here are The Columbia County News-Times' picks for the 2005-06 All-County Boys Basketball Team:
G - Brandon Durr, junior (Evans)
Durr was a key cog in Evans' terrific three-guard system. The ultra-quick point man for the Knights helped guide the team to the most wins (24) in school history. Durr averaged 13.5 points per game and led the Knights by dishing out 5.6 assists per game. Durr's scoring average should soar next season with the departure of Glenn Miller and Jerome Manuel.
G - Jerome Manuel, senior (Evans)
Manuel is simply a solid all-around player. He did whatever Evans coach Kevin Kenny needed him to do. He averaged 13.1 points per game on a very balanced team, and he also averaged more than five rebounds and five assists per game. Manuel did all this while having the duty of guarding the opponent's best player each game. Hopefully, Manuel will get a shot at college ball because I have no doubt that, given the right system, he could flourish on the college level. He was a key reason the Knights finished 24-6 and made it to the second round of the state tournament.
G - Glenn Miller, senior (Evans)
The final member of Evans' three-headed backcourt monster. Miller can flat-out shoot the basketball. When he sets his feet, he is deadly from 3-point range. He poured in 13.3 points per game and chipped in more than five boards a contest. Miller also made a name for himself this season as one of the area's top clutch shooters by hitting several game-winners for the Knights.
F - Ajay Miller, senior (Harlem)
Miller put up big numbers, especially in the first half of the season. The ragtag Harlem Bulldogs haunted teams with a fast-pace offense and took the mighty Evans Knights into overtime at Evans.
F - Luther Holmes, senior (Greenbrier)
Holmes really came on as the season progressed for Casey Dees' squad. He was tenacious on the boards, leading the county with an average of 12.5 boards per game. He also topped Greenbrier, averaging more than 14 points per contest. Holmes got the most out of his 6-foot-4-inch frame, despite facing bigger competition most nights.
Evans - Wes Wuchte, Matt Clark, Carter Turner, Jonathan Nicely
Greenbrier - Sean Gray, Bryan Andrews, Paul Jurek, Anthony Williams
Harlem - DeMarcus Morris, Eric Beard, Sean Hackshaw, Cedric Boatner, Wesley Gower
Lakeside - Bena Tshishiku, Alex Fain, Jason McCall
Augusta Christian - Josh Whitaker, Fred Auston, Wayne House, Kyle Redd
Augusta Prep - Michael Crosland, Trey Minor
Player of the Year
Jerome Manuel (Evans)
Unlike the girls player of the year (Greenbrier's Michelle Swiec), this was an extremely tough choice. I could have selected two of Manuel's teammates (Durr or Miller), or maybe I could have gone with co-players of the year. After all, they each had a hand in leading the Knights to an impressive 24-6 record.
The Knights advanced to the Final 16 in the AAAA Boys State Tournament and finished 10th in the Coaches Poll.
When you look at everything it takes for a team to be successful, the choice became much clearer. Manuel averaged more than 13 points, five rebounds and five assists per contest, but that only scratches the surface of what he did for the Knights this season. His defensive energy was contagious, and at times he was simply a "lock-down" defender.
When the Knights needed offense, he provided that as well, including his 27-point outburst vs. Lee County in the first round of the state tournament (he also torched archrival Lakeside for 27). This Evans team was about as balanced as it gets, but when you sit back and ask why were they so successful this season, undoubtedly Manuel's name will keep popping up.
Coach of the Year
Kevin Kenny (Evans)
This really was a no-brainer pick. No one, including me, predicted what happened for the Evans Knights this season. Sure, I thought they would be pretty good, but no way did I see them winning 24 games.
There were two great things about the Knights this year, and they both are testaments to Kenny. The Knights were completely unselfish and they got after it every minute of every game. You had to beat Evans this season because they were not going to give you an inch. At no time did their top three players, who could all have averaged 20 points per game on most teams, whine about not getting enough shots. They put the team first.
Another amazing feat for the Knights in 2005-06 is the fact that they were a perfect 14-0 at home. Do not feel sorry for Kenny because he graduates Jerome Manuel, Glen Miller and center Carter Turner.
The Knights could make another run next season. They have Brandon Durr back at the point, big men Wes Wuchte (6-foot-6) and Matt Clark (6-foot-7) inside and super athlete Jonathan Nicely (6-foot-4) will step in at small forward. Congratulations, coach, on a very special season.
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