Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another Hoop Zone voting question

As I was making what always seem to be a futile attempt of cleaning up my desk, I came across an anonymous letter that was written to my news director by a concerned high school basketball fan. The typed letter was about a page long and did not have a number, number or any kind of address. I hope that this fan comes across this blog as I am more than happy to answer any questions or concerns our local sports fans have especially when it comes to how we determine our major award winners.

Here's just an excerpt of this letter so you get the point.

"I am writing this letter because of the Mister and Miss Hoop Zone Banquet. First of all, let me say that I believe that this is a good thing that you guys host. However, listening to the public, the coaches, the players and just the public in general, it has turned political. I believe that it is not fair for every kid. We the public would like to know what coaches vote - not that it's is sent to 18 coaches and 2 media employees. We would like to know who these coaches and media people are because it seems that Myrtle Beach must have a horse shoe planted somewhere. Are most voters from that area?
... Myrtle Beach has won Miss Hoop Zone four years straight, Mr. Zoneman 2 years in a row!!! I believe in being air and impartial especially when it involves kids."

From a concerned citizen

I just want to reiterate the process when it comes to voting for Mister and Miss Hoop Zone. The ballot has a first, second and third place vote. A first place vote is worth three points, second is two points and a third place vote is one point. I have absolutely no problem revealing who the list of people who cast a ballot, however I do not think it is proper to reveal who they voted for. Just know that a vote can not be cast for your own player. The two media members are no big mystery here - Mark Haggard and myself have that dubious distinction.

Mr. Hoop Zone Balloters

WEST FLORENCE - Byon Shoemaker
MULLINS - Mark Gerald
LAKE CITY - Willie Thomas
GEORGETOWN - Stitch Walker
HEMINGWAY - Barry McFadden
TIMMONSVILLE - Gerald Wright
AYNOR - Myron Gerald
CHERAW - Tony Boyer
ANDREWS - Kevin Branham
WILSON - DeAndre Scott
SOCASTEE - Tommy Johnson
CONWAY - Michael Hopkins
MARION - Pete Ellis
KINGSTREE - Winston Williams
WPDE Sports: Rich Chrampanis
WPDE Sports: Mark Haggard

Pee Dee voters: 12
Grand Strand voters: 6

By Class:
4A: 3
3A: 7
2A: 6
1A: 2

Miss Hoop Zone Balloters

MYRTLE BEACH - Brian Kiper
MULLINS - Fred Senter
KINGSTREE - Sonya Burgess
DARLINGTON - Jesse Barber
MARLBORO CO - Nikita Collins
DILLON - Johnny Dew
MARION - Leon Sturkey
HEMINGWAY - Sonya Thomas
LAKE CITY - Charm Eaddy
WILSON - Ann Talbert
AYNOR - Matt Burke
SOCASTEE - Marty Jacobs
WPDE Sports: Rich Chrampanis
WPDE Sports: Mark Haggard

Pee Dee voters: 13
Grand Strand voters: 5

By Class:
4A: 4
3A: 7
2A: 5
1A: 2

A couple of notes here. First of all, every coach is a varsity head coach and the list has all the experience you can ask for when it comes to our area. These coaches know about the AAU circuit, as well as individual and team performances. There is no specific criteria for Mister or Miss Hoop Zone. We simply ask, "Who's the best player in the area". As you can see, there are plenty of Pee Dee voters and I think we have the right balance.

Back in 2008, the voting was extremely tight for both Mister and Miss Hoop Zone. After taking the 20 ballots, I didn't feel comfortable so we took the daunting task of contacting all 34 boys and girls head basketball coaches and took every ballot to make sure we got it right. In that year, Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard of Georgetown narrowly beat Tashan Fredrick, Eric Smith and Lashay Page and Ashley Clarke of Myrtle Beach edged out Rubylee Wright of Latta.

If I ever feel the balloting is up in the air, I would do that again. It took a lot of extra man hours, but we put in that extra effort to make sure we got it right. The bottom line is that we care about the process and we have no agenda. Back in the beginning, Marlboro County won three straight Zonemans with Tymere Zimmerman and Syvelle Newton. Many folks thought we were biased to our friends in Bennettsville back then.

If you look at the list above, that is a group of respected veteran coaches. Why did we choose them? Some of them are year in and year out voters that have earned not only our respect but the entire area's. We also try and make it a point to get balloters that have had successful seasons. We also try to make sure that we have a coach who has a Mister or Miss Hoop Zone contender. On the girls side, we had Darlington, Hartsville and Myrtle Beach to ensure that all three coaches could not vote for their own player and not get an extra advantage.

We've given away 30 trophies (10 for the Zoneman, 10 Mister Hoop Zone and 10 Miss Hoop Zone). I wish that the Finalists who make the podium were given more overall respect as it's a major accomplishment to reach that stage. Right now, it's a Myrtle Beach run of award winners. Perhaps in the next five to ten years, another school will emerge.

If I thought enough people were interested, I'd love to do a behind the scenes look at how exactly Mark Haggard and myself put the entire show together. It's something that we don't just throw together. We take time to not only pick 40 outstanding players, but then do a truly unbiased voting process that selects our winner. The die hard high school fans would probably enjoy Mark and I going back and forth for endless hours in the fall and winter as we pick these teams. It's something that we really care about and really have fun doing.

I hope this answers some questions. I would like to thank all of the coaches above for helping us this year.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tommy's got a shot

Tommy Fraser can thank Tyler Thigpen, Mike Tolbert, Quinton Teal and Jerome Simpson for getting scouts from the New Orleans Saints and the Tennessee Titans to come in for Coastal's annual pro day. Thanks to four former Chants on NFL rosters, there is credibility to CCU's pro day.
Fraser's numbers were impressive to say the least, especially when you compare it to the three fullbacks who were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Name College Ht. Wt. 40 Reps at 225
John Conner Kentucky 5'11 246 4.72 24
Rashawn Jackson Virginia 6'0 239 4.74 DNP
Manase Tonga BYU 5'11 245 4.83 19
Tommy Fraser CCU 5'9 239 4.69 28

Fullbacks are a niche in the NFL. Not every team employs one, and as a result, not many will be drafted. So it's probably a long shot that Tommy will hear his name called on draft weekend. However, the workout numbers and the fact that he has signed with an agent should get him an opportunity to sign a free agent contract. That's how it all got started with Mike Tolbert. With all scouts watching Jerome Simpson's workout, Tolbert quietly put together a great Pro Day workout and got a contract with the San Diego Chargers. Tolbert has had the much better career in the pros than Simpson at this point.

Great workout numbers doesn't always translate to great performance in the NFL, but the most important thing Tuesday's workout did was give some legitimacy to Fraser's pro prospects. If the numbers weren't good on campus, Fraser would have had no shot at an NFL training camp. Now it looks as if Fraser will get the chance to go to training camp and prove that he can stick and may become the fifth Chanticleer to play in the NFL.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

UAB Pregame

The NIT is an interesting mix of elite programs that fell short of getting an at-large mixed in with mid-major's and regular season conference champs from smaller leagues. As CCU gets set to take on UAB, the Chants have the dubious distinction of being the school with the most wins to not make the NCAA field. CCU has the most wins in the NIT 32 team field.

There's no question that while Coastal is disappointed to not make the NCAA's, they are happy to be playing in a post-season tournament. It's CCU's first ever NIT bid and just third post-season berth in the program's history. UAB is now in the NIT for the third straight year. The Blazers were 18-2 and had wins against Butler, Cincinnati, Georgia and Arkansas on their resume. From there, UAB went 5-6 losing their last three games and sliding off the bubble and back into the NIT.

Vegas has UAB as an 11 point favorite in tonight's game and that's about right. There's no question that the Blazers playing at home should win this game. But here's where the NIT gets interesting. Is UAB pumped about playing in the NIT again? It's the question you have to ask the UConn's and North Carolina's who are accustomed playing in the other dance. UAB had to feel like they were a near lock to be playing in the NCAA's a month ago.

CCU still has not had a two game losing streak this year. The Chants have had nearly12 days off. Which team will show up? The one that dismantled conference foes or the team that struggled at home against Winthrop and Radford? We'll know in the first eight minutes if CCU is going to be competitive or not. During that time we'll also find out if UAB is ready to make a run towards Madison Square Garden or if they want to call it a season.

Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 Hoop Zone Banquet

The 10th annual WPDE Hoop Zone banquet makes it 20 banquets over the past ten years by our sports department. Both Mark and I are grateful to our management team for having the vision of putting the spotlight on our local athletes. It's a special night for kids from all across our community. To think that on the same day we were hosting our banquet we had two former All Hoop Zoners playing in the SEC Tournament (Brendan Knox of Auburn and South Carolina's Sam Muldrow) shows how we've got some talented players that have made it to our banquet year in and year out.

We seem to get a lot of feedback about the voting process. We are always more than happy to explain it.

Hags and I begin in January selecting the team. The roster has expanded from 12 player in year one to 20 boys and 20 girls in year number ten. We have 18 boys coaches, 18 girls coaches and the two WPDE Sports guys select #1, #2 and #3 for top players in the area. First place votes get 3 points, second place 2, and third place one point.

Hags physically collects the ballots over the phone and we compile them. We're pleased with the process as the coaches in our area know what the award is all about and do an excellent job of giving us a landscape of the talent in our area. Coaches can not vote for their own players which eliminates all the bias.

I got this question from Steven Green in Myrtle Beach:

honest question.. how does a player make all-state (julia crews, carolina forest), yet not even get a couple of votes?

First and foremost, Julia was an easy no-brainer lock to make our 20 player All-Hoop Zone team. We usually have a list of about 12-15 players that are in and then we take about 10 more and they are on the bubble so to speak and we make the tough choices to make the team.

The easiest answer to your question is that 10 of our 20 Girls on the 2010 All Hoop Zone team were All-State selections.

Jasmine Phillips and Khadijah Sessions are elite borderline McDonald's All-American talents that are getting recruited by the likes of ACC, SEC and many other major Division I schools. They belong on every ballot in my opinion. Jazz Green is a Division I commitment at the College of Charleston and Geneika Brantley avergaged a double-double and is a state champion. It's a very strong year for girls in our area.

That shouldn't take anything away from what Julia did. Like I said, she is a no-brainer lock to make our team and we're happy that we were able to honor her at the banquet.

Here are some game notes from the 2010 Hoop Zone Banquet. We enjoy looking back on the history of the banquet and the awards.

Hemingway's Quintin Brown and Myrtle Beach's Everett Golson joined an exclusve list of players honored as both All-Zone football players as well as members of the All-Hoop Zone team.

Two Sport All-Zoners
Jarod Gerald, Mullins
Tymere Zimmerman, Marlboro County
Syvelle Newton, Marlboro County
Andy Blondmonville, Myrtle Beach
Cliff Matthews, Cheraw
Jordan Lyles, Hartsville
Everett Golson, Myrtle Beach
Quintin Brown, Hemingway

Over 10 years, 30 of the 34 schools in our area have been a part of the Hoop Zone banquet. Four schools are still seeking their first post-season basketball honor:

East Clarendon, Lake View, Lamar and Waccamaw

Here are the schools with the most Hoop Zone invites over the years:

Schools with most All Hoop Zone Boys selections

1. Hemingway 14
1. Marlboro County 14
3. Myrtle Beach 13
3. Wilson 13
5. Socastee 11
6. Mullins 10

Schools with most All Hoop Zone Girls selections

1. Myrtle Beach 17
1. Wilson 17
3. Darlington 12
4. Timmonsville 8
4. Mullins 8
4. Andrews 8

Schools with most combined Hoop Zone selections

1. Myrtle Beach 30
1. Wilson 30
3. Hemingway 19
4. Marlboro County 18
4. Mullins 18
6. Darlington 17