One of the last big pieces of the area’s 2016 football recruiting class is approaching a decision on his college choice.
Conway running back Jah’Maine Martin said Monday that he has narrowed his final three schools down to Coastal Carolina, The Citadel and Western Carolina. He has already taken official visits to the first two, and he’ll round out the list with a trip to Western Carolina this weekend.
He’ll announce his final decision some point after that trip but prior to National Signing Day on Feb. 3.
“My main thing is the degree,” Martin said, describing what he was looking for. “When I graduate from college, will I just be sitting around looking for a job or will they help me find a job? What is the level of the degree? The second thing is the environment, talking to people around campus. The third thing is football, what the coach is like, kind of playbook, what’s the big idea behind the program.”
Martin also originally had offers from Army, South Carolina State, Alabama A&M, Gardner-Webb and Old Dominion, although ODU backed off following an early commitment from Myrtle Beach tailback Brandon Sinclair. As for the others, the relatively fast recruiting process didn’t allow him much time to mess around with his options.
He moved to Conway prior to his junior year and made a successful jump to offense after playing defense as a freshman and sophomore in Georgia.
“It just came down at once,” he said. “I’ve got to make my decisions quick. If I’m not really interested, I have to tell them. I don’t have time to look into them.”
Martin ran for 1,082 yards and 19 touchdowns this past fall, helping the Tigers to a 9-3 overall record and an appearance in the Class AAAA playoffs. He was named to the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl North vs. South game.
As a junior – his first year in the program – he accumulated 1,132 yards and 11 scores. In both seasons, the bruising 5-foot-11, 203-pound back averaged better than seven yards per carry.
With Sinclair still firmly committed to Old Dominion, fellow Myrtle Beach teammate Drayton Arnold already there as an early enrollee and Conway’s Bryan Edwards on campus at South Carolina, Martin could be the last area football standout from the Grand Strand to sign scholarship paperwork for an NCAA Division I program.
Checks with area coaches point to several NCAA Division II players and a handful of potential walk-on situations, with most of those still up in the air.
After just one week of region basketball games, the number of local South Carolina High School League teams that started 2-0 is about as minimal as it gets.
The Carolina Forest and Carvers Bay boys and St. James and Carvers Bay girls are the four that started with a pair of victories. Considering there are 24 area SCHSL teams, and it’s not hard to see which four were able to be most proud of their opening week of the biggest part of the regular season.
That’s not to say all four are locks to remain in those top spots after Week 2.
The Carolina Forest boys have to play defending Class AAAA champion Sumter on Tuesday and then region rival Conway – which was ranked No. 5 in the state last week – on Friday. Jeff Mezzatesta’s Carvers Bay boys will play Lake View at home Tuesday before heading to Hemingway on Friday. The Bears already fell to Hemingway once this season, during the Georgetown tournament in November.
On the girls side, St. James will hit the road on Tuesday for Myrtle Beach, a team coming off a 70-13 win over Lake City on Friday. The Seahawks were without guard Keocia Walker for that game, and head coach Jennifer Dennison said she was unsure when Walker would return from what she called a “minor injury.”
The Carvers Bay girls will take on Lake View and Hemingway, and may have the best chance of the four to move to 4-0.
HTC GAME OF THE WEEK
On Friday, HTC’s Game of the Week program will head to Myrtle Beach for the Seahawks’ doubleheader against North Myrtle Beach.
The girls teams will tip off at 6 p.m., with the boys game to follow. Both will be shown live on HTC Channel 4 and livestreamed at HTCConnect.com. Each will then be re-broadcast multiple times next week. The upcoming schedule also includes St. James at North Myrtle Beach (Jan. 29), Myrtle Beach at St James (Feb. 5) and Carolina Forest at Conway (Feb. 12).
BEACH BALL ALUMNI SELECTED FOR MCDONALD’S GAME
Three more former Beach Ball Classic participants are headed to the McDonald’s All-American Game.
This year’s premier all-star event will include Bartow (Fla.) center Tony Bradley and St. Francis guard Kobi Simmons, two of the standouts in the most recent Classic. They’ll be joined by 2014 Beach Ball alum Zach Collins from Bishop Gorman (Nev.). The rosters for the McDonald’s game, which began in 1978, were announced late Sunday evening.
During their appearances here, each of the players showed some of the skill that led them to the nation’s premier all-star game. Simmons, who also played in the Beach Ball last year, averaged 19 points per game in the most recent Classic. In the 2014 Beach Ball, he helped St. Francis to the Consolation Championship. Simmons verbally committed to Arizona last week.
Bradley, who has signed with North Carolina, had a 29-point, 18-rebound performance in Bartow’s opening game against East Jackson (Ga.), another double-double against Shadow Mountain (Ariz.) and nearly recorded a third against Mater Dei (Calif.). He was one of 15 players selected to the all-tournament team.
Collins, a 6-foot-9 Gonzaga commitment, was part of a loaded Gaels roster that won all four of its games in the 2014 tournament by at least 15 points.