E.A. Sports Today

Wood top 1A boys player

Sacred Heart’s Wood named top 1A boys player; Spring Garden’s Rogers a 1A girls finalist

Sacred Heart sophomore Diante Wood displays his award for being named Alabama's Class 1A Boys Player of the Year. On the cover, 1A finalists Tykeah Rogers of Spring Garden (L) and Wood in action. (Cover photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

Sacred Heart sophomore Diante Wood displays his award for being named Alabama’s Class 1A Boys Player of the Year. On the cover, 1A finalists Tykeah Rogers of Spring Garden (L) and Wood in action. (Cover photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY — It’s already been a good week for Sacred Heart sophomore Diante Wood and it’s not even close to being over.

Wood was named Class 1A boys Player of the Year at the ASWA Mr./Miss Basketball awards banquet Wednesday.

The MVP of the Northeast Regional and 1A Final Four edged out Keith’s John Pettway and Georgiana’s Jacquez Payton, two players he went head to head against in the Final Four and beat.

“It’s overwhelming,” Wood said. “I didn’t know if I was going to get it because I was going against two seniors. It was overwhelming.”

Spring Garden’s Tykeah Rogers was a finalist in the girls 1A award for the second year in a row, but was edged out by Keith’s Harriet Winchester for the award.

Wood, a 6-foot-5 post projected as a guard in college, averaged 20.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots this past season. He had three 40-point games, and 30 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in the state final that brought the Cardinals their second straight state title.

Cardinals coach Ralph Graves said he wasn’t surprised Wood won the award despite being the youngest of the three finalists.

“There should be a standard there and the standard shouldn’t be what classification that you’re in as far as school,” he said. “Your play should determined if you win Player of the Year. And just because he’s the youngest doesn’t mean he’s not the best.

“What else do you want him to do? Does he have to be a senior to win it or does his resume speak for itself?”

It has been a big week, and it’s far from finished. Over the weekend he helped his travel team win a tournament. Tuesday night he picked up a scholarship offer from Auburn, his fourth Division from a Division I program. On Saturday he takes his ACT, which should open the door for more opportunities, and then heads to the Plains as an A-Day guest.

Wood also holds offers from Samford, which he picked up after winning the state championship, New Mexico State and UAB. More most assuredly are headed his way. Alabama is showing “a lot of interest,” he said, and he’s heard Tide coach Avery Johnson was coming by school soon to visit.

He’ll take his time digesting them all before offering his commitment.

And time is one luxury he has.

Being only a sophomore he has a chance to be the classification Player of the Year two more years. At the rate he’s progressing, could a Mr. Basketball award be far off in his future?

“Only if the state allows it,” Graves said. “If you don’t have to be a Class 7A or Class 6A (player). His numbers will speak for itself.

“For him to make the step he made from last year to now, imagine what it’s like if he works hard and steps up again and again, and that is the plan for him. I think he wants that for himself. He’ll tell you he’s not playing for any award, he’s playing just to get better because he loves to do it.”

Spring Garden’s Rogers finished as a runner-up for the second year in a row. She called the opportunity to repeat “an extraordinary feeling” and and congratulated winner Winchester.

Former Oxford girls basketball coach Tonya Peoples addressed the crowd as keynote speaker.

She previously spoke at the luncheon five years ago — the 20th anniversary of her Miss Basketball award — and joked Wednesday of being set up to speak this time. She was approached right before spring break and apologized for not being able to stay longer due to an unbreakable professional commitment back in Oxford.

She relished being able to see old friends, coaches and teammates from her high school, college and coaching career.

“If you have an opportunity, it’s tough to say no to it,” she said.

Before she left, Peoples, who announced her retirement for family considerations right after the Lady Jackets’ loss in the Class 6A substate, talked about her gratitude to the game and reminded the players to remember the importance of their education.

“This game has been good to me and good for me,” she said. “I’m so thankful about this game and what it means to me.”

On the education front she reminded the finalists basketball “is great, but it will not last forever.” She hammered home the point with her personal story as well as those of three top players in the room the last time she spoke at the luncheon and the fates that followed them since — one whose career was cut short by injury, one who left college early and is playing professionally overseas and one who graduated as an Academic All-American and is now pursuing a professional career.

Jeff Davis senior Jasmine Walker and J.O. Johnson junior John Petty were this year’s Miss Basketball and Mr. Basketball, respectively.

Walker, a 6-3 forward and Florida State signee, averaged 19.6 points and 8.5 rebounds to lead the Vols to a second straight Class 7A title. Petty, a 6-6 guard and only the third junior to win Mr. Basketball, averaged 18.9 points and grabbed seven rebounds per game in helping the Jaguars win their second state title in a row.

Here are the classification players of the year:

BOYS: Austin Wiley, Spain Park (7A); Javien Williams, Woodlawn (6A); John Petty, J.O. Johnson (5A); Trey Petty, Westminster Christian (4A); Joshua Langford, Madison Academy (3A); Triston Chambers, Cold Springs (2A); Diante Wood, Sacred Heart Catholic (1A).

GIRLS: Jasmine Walker, Jeff Davis (7A); Japonica James, LeFlore (6A); Kaitlyn Rodgers, Wenonah (5A); Charity Brown, Sipsey Valley (4A); Emma Wallen, Lauderdale County (3A); Lacey Stafford, Geneva County (2A); Harriet Winchester, Keith (1A).

Here are the results of the Super 5, the top five vote-getters in the Mr. and Miss Basketball voting:

Boys (1st) Points
John Petty, J.O. Johnson (12) 84
Austin Wiley, Spain Park (1) 74
Joshua Langford, Madison Academy 43
Javien Williams, Woodlawn 14
Alex Reese, Pelham 7

Girls (1st) Points
Jasmine Walker, Jeff Davis (10) 75
Japonica James, LeFlore (3) 50
Kaitlyn Rodgers, Wenonah 40
Emma Wallen, Lauderdale County 14
Cierra Johnson, Blount 13

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