Two Evans High School seniors signed letters of intent last week to ensure they'll continue playing sports at the college level.
Brandon Skinner made a basketball commitment to Brewton-Parker College, while classmate Robbie Bryant committed to play baseball at Covenant College.
Skinner became the third Evans basketball player to sign a letter of intent this season. Teammates Matt Clark and Wes Wuchte have also made written commitments to play at the next level.
"It shows we have a lot of talent," Skinner said. "The coaches pushed us hard, and this is what happens."
Unlike Clark and Wuchte, Skinner had an additional obstacle standing in the way of a potential college scholarship. The forward never earned a steady spot in the Knights' starting lineup. He spent most of the 2006-07 season coming off the bench as a sixth man.
"I was OK with it," he said. "I knew we had a lot of good post players, and I just wanted to help the team out however I could."
Coach Kevin Kenny said his reserve big man could have started on several other area teams.
"It was a numbers game," he said. "He played inside, and we happened to have some pretty good inside players this year with Jonathan (Nicely), Matt (Clark) and Wes (Wuchte). He probably could have started at any other school in the county. He still gave us a lot of energy off the bench."
Skinner did start for the Knights on occasion this past season. When Clark went down with a broken nose late in the year, Skinner took his place in the starting rotation.
The senior turned in one of his biggest high school performances in Evans' double-overtime victory over Greenbrier Jan. 26. Skinner tallied a double-double in the 54-53 region rivalry win. Big plays in such big games, along with a spring tryout at Brewton-Parker, earned Skinner a spot in the college basketball world.
"It's been my dream to play college basketball ever since I was a little kid," Skinner said.
For Robbie Bryant, Covenant College wasn't a childhood dream, but the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school in Lookout Mountain, Ga., ended up being a perfect fit.
"I was looking at their Web site, and it said they're restarting their baseball program," Bryant said. "I wasn't really looking to go play college ball anywhere, but I e-mailed the coach, and that's how it started."
The lifelong Martinez resident started at first base for the Knights this season. Before then, he was a member of the 2001 Dixie World Series runner-up team and the 2003 Dixie World Series championship team for the Columbia County Recreation Department. He saw similar success at Evans Middle School and eventually as a regular starter for the Evans High School team.
Bryant said his high school experience as a baseball player shaped his life.
"The whole experience was great. I can't think of a negative moment playing baseball for Evans," he said. "The rowdy fans and the home atmosphere - even the field has personality more than any other field in Columbia County."
Bryant is the first Evans baseball player to sign a letter of intent this season. He was one of only two regular starting seniors on a Knights baseball team that reached the Class AAAA state baseball playoffs but lost on the road in the first round.
"Ever since then I've been dying to play again," Bryant said. "I can't wait to get started."
Evans finished the year with an overall record of 16-11.
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