How's this for a high school sports fan's weekend? Top notch basketball around the area and the state's top high school basketball prospect just 75 miles away.
Randolph-Clay's Donnell Harvey, a 6-foot-7 forward regarded as the state's top high school prospect and one of the top prep players in the country, will be in action in the first round of the state basketball tournament at Greene-Taliaferro High on Saturday. The Red Devils meet Hancock Central at 5:30 p.m.
Harvey has been listed anywhere from the nation's top prospect by The Sporting News to the nation's third-best prospect by Recruiting USA. Prep Stars magazine ranks Harvey as the second-best prospect in the country behind Keith Bogans, a 6-4 guard from DeMatha, Md., who has already signed with Kentucky.
"What separates Donnell from other players is that he's a complete court warrior," said Bob Gibbons, of All-Star Sports in Lenoir, N.C., who annually compiles a list of the nation's top basketball players.
"I call him the Dennis Rodman without all the tattoos. He's the best I've seen in my 25 years. Like Dennis, he has the attitude that when the ball comes off the rim, it's mine."
Harvey's coach, Joe Williams, has coached some great players at the school in Cuthbert, some 60 miles south of Columbus in the southwest corner of the state. He coached Jerry Braswell, who played with Tim Duncan at Wake Forest two seasons ago. Jeffrey Braswell, a senior guard at Randolph-Clay, will play for coach Lefty Driesell at Georgia State next year.
"He's a pretty tough player," Williams said of Harvey. "Everybody we've played this season has packed the gyms to see him play."
Harvey has definitely done his part to put the fans in the gymnasium. The senior is averaging 23 points, 14 rebounds a contest, five assists, 3.5 blocks per game and 2.5 steals per contest. He can also shoot the 3-pointer, making 50 percent (12 of 24) this season.
He has been selected to play in the McDonald's High School All-Star basketball game that will be played April 15 in Iowa. In addition, he's been selected to play in the Magic All-Star Game later this year, sponsored by former NBA great Magic Johnson.
Nearly every major university in the Southeast has recruited Harvey sometime this season and he still lists Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Clemson and Kentucky among the schools he's still considering.
But Gibbons said one thing he thinks Harvey needs to work on before college is developing an outside shot.
"At 6-7, Donnell doesn't have the ideal size for a power forward," he said. "But he's so intense and he's gotten by in high school because of his intensity. But he needs to take his man outside a little and develop a medium-range jump shot."
Tim Morse can be reached at (706) 823-3216.
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