Huntingdon to play host to new showcase for prep basketball
By Tim Gayle
Keegan Bell has only been in town four months but he’s already gauged the potential of basketball in the central Alabama area.
“I want to train and help these kids,” Bell said. “We’re going to have leagues. When I first got here, we had a college combine. We had 65 guys in the gym, getting after it, learning how to go off of player screens. All year long, this is all I do. We’ll have week-long camps, we’ll have clinics, we’ll have combines. Whatever we can do to bring excitement in basketball to the state of Alabama, that’s what we’re doing.”
Bell is hoping to generate some excitement with the ABA High School Senior Charity Showcase on Saturday at Huntingdon College’s Catherine Dixon Roland Arena.
Two girls teams featuring the area’s top high school seniors will tip off at 1:30 p.m., followed by two boys teams playing at 3 p.m.
Admission is $8 with proceeds going to Common Ground, a youth ministry serving the Washington Park and Gibbs Village communities.
The “Home” team girls roster will feature St. James point guard Hannah Dailey and Catholic center Iyana Tate as well as Robert E. Lee’s Deasia March and Jada Pickett, Sidney Lanier’s Shanya Brown and Makeyva Timmons, Emri Hannah of Montevallo High and Alexis Tate and Nauticka Philpot of Auburn High.
The “Away” team girls roster includes BTW Magnet point guard Jada Davison and power forward Paige Towns, Montgomery Academy shooting guard Jade Brooks, the Brew Tech duo of Charlisa Wellington and Kayla Rogers and the Carver duo of Adasia Rudolph and Brittany Murray. The team is rounded out by Andrea Stoddard of Evangel Christian, Keely Strength and Hannah Minney of Prattville Christian and Desiree Tyner of Loachapoka.
The “Home” team boys roster will include Montgomery Academy guard Garrett Sanderson, Catholic shooting guard David Poole and Brew Tech’s Shawn Barnes as well as a quartet of the city’s large public school teams – Donnie Williams of Park Crossing, Jawan Lipson of Carver, Tyler Wesley of Jeff Davis and TeDarrian Arron of Jeff Davis. The remainder of the team hails from north central and north Alabama: Athens’ John Williams, Cleveland’s Khalil Johnson and the Montevallo duo of Tay Smith and Tavarious Hall.
The “Away” team boys roster will feature a trio of Prattville Christian players (Wyatt Jennings, Peyton Meadows and Trenton Ousley) and a trio of Sidney Lanier stars (Roger Davis, Jaylen Moncrief and Tamarea Hendricks) as well as Carver’s Artravious Webster, Robert E. Lee’s Jondatric Butler, Decatur’s Noah Burroughs and Auburn’s Garrison Brooks.
The Alabama Basketball Academy was established in 2008 by Huntsville high school coaching legend Ronnie Stapler, who coached Grissom to a pair of state basketball championships over a 34-year career before moving on to Guntersville and to Randolph as a girls’ basketball coach. In 2013, he accepted another challenge as the boys coach at Westminster Christian and led the school to a runner-up finish in 2015 and the Class 4A title in 2016.
His son Scott runs the Huntsville-based program but Bell took over operations of the Montgomery branch four months ago. Bell played at Bob Jones High before moving over to Hazel Green as a senior in 2007 where he emerged as one of the top point guards in the South. He signed with Vanderbilt but left after 2008 and sat out a year before starting his final three seasons at Chattanooga, where he started in 95 of the 97 games and became the all-time assist leader at the school.
He would later become an assistant coach at Alabama-Huntsville, Lincoln Memorial and Shorter College before deciding to join the Alabama Basketball Academy to help improve the fundamentals of the younger players in this state.
“It’s not necessarily that the game is ‘bad’ and we’re ‘awful,’” Bell said. “We have the pieces, but it’s like anything else. You can be an athlete with great bones, but if you don’t work on the right skills, you just become another athlete. Even if you play multiple sports, if you want to be a basketball player, you’ve got to have the basketball in your hands. You’ve got to continue to get after it and work on the right things.”
After four months in Montgomery, he believes he can work with the talent in the River Region and improve the fundamentals. Those interested in ABA clinics should call Bell at 256-929-2693 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The one thing I will say about Montgomery is the bones are here,” Bell said. “I am so fired up to be here. There is so much talent, there is so much potential. If these kids will dive in and buy in and get after it, I’m telling you they could change the culture of Alabama basketball.”