E.A. Sports Today

Garrett moves on

Sophomore post leaves Oxford for Atlanta area prep school; Jackets add two players to roster; Law back coaching Saks softball

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

When Bryan Lippman talks about Zondrick Garrett he can’t stop talking about the 6-foot-7 sophomore post’s ample upside.

Garrett helped Oxford win the Calhoun County Basketball Tournament last winter and play for a spot in the Class 6A Final Four and was expected to be a big part of getting them more. But he has taken his game to another state as he works to get to the next level.

He has enrolled in The Lincoln Academy, a new basketball development program in partnership with Friendship Christian School in suburban Atlanta. He moves in Thursday.

“I honestly think he can be a stud, I think he’s gonna be a stud,” Lippman, the academy’s founder and head coach, said Monday. “We think the world of him. He’s a top 100 (prospect) already and I just see him continuing to flourish with us.

“I see him developing as a monster stretch 4 at the next level.”

Garrett said it was difficult decision to leave the Yellow Jackets, but it was one he made more his future. He hasn’t made any commitments yet, but said he was interested in going to a program like Syracuse, Kansas, Florida and “schools like that.”

On its webpage, Lincoln Academy is described as a program designed “to crush the competition while preparing student-athletes for college level basketball.”

Lippman discovered Garrett on the EYBL circuit in July. At his new school Garrett will attend Friendship Christian during the school day, then train and practice with the Lincoln Academy after school hours. The team will play a national schedule that will include the annual Atlanta Hoopsgiving Classic that has drawn Anniston’s Sacred Heart the last two years.

“I think this is a program that’s perfect for him,” Lippman said. “He’ll be able to play high-level competition day-in and day-out.”

“I’m looking forward to it a lot, competing against better players and showing I can do better than they can do,” Garrett said.

Garrett said his dad left the door open for him returning to Oxford if he didn’t like it or things didn’t work out. He said he would come back to watch the Yellow Jackets play this coming season.

Garrett was somewhat of a secret last season as a freshman, but every time he stepped on the floor, especially on the big stage, he looked like he belonged. He was the MVP of the Calhoun County Tournament.

He was going to be a key component on an Oxford team with size and experience that was expected to contend for the Class 6A state championship.

The Yellow Jackets won the Calhoun County Tournament with Garrett in the middle last year and played in the Northeast Regional finals. During summer workouts they were developing an offense to get him the ball in the right spots.

“Everybody’s got to make decisions in life; you don’t always agree with them, but that’s their decision,” Oxford coach Joel Van Meter said. “It’s stuff you have to deal with in high school athletics any more and you just move on. I don’t mean that negatively toward him and his family or our guys, but you’ve got to move on.”

The Yellow Jackets have added two new players to their roster. Brothers Traston and Riley Houck have transferred in from Fayette County. Traston is a 6-4 left-handed junior who “will be a good piece to what we’re doing,” Van Meter said, and Riley is a 6-3 eighth-grader.

“We’ve got a talented team,” Van Meter said. “(Garrett) would’ve been a great piece, but he decided to do something else, but we’ll just play with what we have. We’ll still be fine when you look at what we’ve got coming back.”

COACHING CAROUSEL: Randy Law is headed back to the softball dugout as Saks’ head coach after his daughter, Cara, becomes an assistant coach at Georgia Southwestern University. Law, the Wildcats’ volleyball coach, last coached the softball team in 2009, Cara’s senior year … Faith Christian is finalizing its coaching staff. Formal announcements on remaining staff (softball, baseball, tennis and soccer) are likely to come by the end of the week. Local FCA director Ryan Limbaugh is said to be up for the baseball job.

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