E.A. Sports Today

Wylie, North swamp South

Auburn commitment earns MVP award with double-double; Oxford’s McClendon plays a big role with 14 points

North coaches Chris Randall of White Plains (C) and Geraldine's Cale Black share a moment with AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese moments before the North-South boys basketball all-star game. On the cover, Faith Christian's Jordan Griswould (1) and Oxford's Jakolbe McClendon run through a drill in pre-game warmups.

North coaches Chris Randall of White Plains (C) and Geraldine’s Cale Black share a moment with AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese moments before the North-South boys basketball all-star game. On the cover, Faith Christian’s Jordan Griswould (1) and Oxford’s Jakolbe McClendon run through a drill in pre-game warmups.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY — Jakolbe McClendon, and everyone he’s been close to, never doubted he could play with the highest level of competition in the state. It was just a matter of getting other people to see it.

The rising Oxford senior got the chance Wednesday in the AHSAA North-South All-Star Basketball Game, and didn’t disappoint.

On a night when the crowd was wowed by 6-10 Auburn commit Austin Wylie, McClendon scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and even blocked a shot as the North towered over the South 84-73 at Alabama State’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome.

“I didn’t doubt it at all,” McClendon said before getting a big hug from Oxford coach Joel VanMeter in the tunnel. “I know I can play with anybody in the state. It was just fun playing with all these guys. I wanted to prove I could play with anybody in the state.”

Wylie was the North MVP with 30 points and 15 rebounds. LaFayette’s Jatarvious Whitlow was the South MVP with 24 points and eight boards. North coach Chris Randall of White Plains said if Wylie wasn’t so dominant, McClendon would have been his next choice for MVP.

“He played great; he was huge for us,” Randall said. “He played like a Yellow Jacket. He was unselfish, he took the shots he was supposed to take, he guarded like crazy. A wonderful effort.

“When Joel dropped him off, the first thing I told him, with Joel there, was ‘act like you own the place, act like you belong’ because you’re here for a reason. Don’t come in here timid; come in with confidence.”

It was within 45 minutes of that first practice Randall knew McClendon would be one of his five starters in the game. He played most of it in the group that included Wylie.

McClendon said it surprised him he scored so many points, but he knew he belonged in this one after he made his second 3-pointer. He was 4-of-6 from the floor and each bucket seemed to stop a run by the South, which didn’t seemed intimidated at all by the North’s decided size advantage.

“It was way better than I thought it would be,” he said.

VanMeter never doubted his guard’s ability to play on this kind of stage.

“I just think this proves the level of player he is,” said VanMeter, who accompanied McClendon on the floor for pregame introductions. “I think he’s one of the top players in the state. I’m not saying what number to what number, but he can compete with anybody in the state.

“I got a nice text from Coach Randall talking about how well he competed in practice. It just proves his hard work is paying off. He’s going to have some opportunities somewhere down the road, but before all that happens he’s going to have a chance to help us win a lot of games.”

McClendon wasn’t the only Calhoun County player to get in the game.

Faith Christian’s Jordan Griswould played 13 minutes for the North. He never really got to show his shooting touch from the wing the way Randall had hoped to spotlight, but he did score two points on a baseline move in the third quarter and grabbed two rebounds.

“It was fun to be in that experience with so many great players,” he said.

North 84, South 73

NORTH – Tyrique Purvis 1-7 2-2 4, Jon Brown 3-4 0-2 7, Khalil Johnson 2-3 0-0 5, Jakolbe McClendon 4-6 4-4 14, Austin Wiley 14-18 2-8 30, Jordan Griswould 1-3 0-1 2, Javan Johnson 1-5 2-2 4, Alex Simon-Hayden 0-1 0-0 0, Johnathan Coffee 2-3 0-0 4, Kobe McClain 7-8 0-0 14. Totals 35-58 10-19 84.

SOUTH – Terrell Harris 4-9 0-0 10, Marion Williams 0-2 0-0 0, LaDarius Carter 1-3 0-0 2, Jatarvious Whitlow 10-23 2-9 24, Henry Ruggs 2-8 2-4 6, Tyson Williams 1-5 1-2 4, Jaelin Fleming 4-6 0-0 12, Terence Dunlap 3-6 2-2 9, Mykale Trammell 2-9 2-2 6. Totals 27-71 9-19 73.

North 21 12 19 21 — 84
South 14 23 14 22 — 73

3-point goals: North 4-11 (Purvis 0-4, Brown 1-1, K. Johnson 1-2, McClendon 2-4); South 10-25 (Harris 2-4, Carter 0-2, Whitlow 2-7, Ruggs 0-1, T. Williams 1-2, Fleming 4-6, Dunlap 1-1, Trammell 0-2). Rebounds: North 52 (Wylie 15, Purvis 9); South 25 (Whitlow 8, Trammell 7). Assists: North 22 (K. Johnson 8, Purvis 5); South 11 (Whitlow 5). Total fouls: North 12, South 18.

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