Johnson and Reese named to Alabama All-Star team

Published 5:24 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

Easily Shelby County’s two most productive basketball players, Alabama signee Alex Reese and Memphis signee Jamal Johnson, will headline the 2017 Alabama All-Star team when they take on Mississippi in the annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game on Friday, March 17 at the Dunn Oliver Acadome on the campus of Alabama State.

The team is comprised solely of seniors, and what a senior season each of these players had with their respective squad.

Reese, a 6-foot-9 forward, led the Pelham Panthers to the Elite 8 before falling to eventual state champion Paul Bryant by four points to end their season in heartbreaking fashion.

Going into a game, teams knew that if they had any chance of winning the contest they had to double team the talented big man in the post. Still, somehow, he was able to average 21 points and 10 rebounds per game all while spending the year less than 100 percent healthy.

Not only his power and finesse in the post, but his stroke from beyond the arc gave teams nightmares when it came to trying to hold him in check. Reese will be playing alongside future Alabama teammate Herb Jones, and former county foe, Spain Park’s, Jamal Johnson.

Johnson was one of the hidden gems in the state this season. Sure you could argue that he was in the spotlight being the Jags’ go to scorer and having signed at Memphis, but a lot of other guys around the state got much more attention than Johnson.

Spain Park may not have made the playoff run they wanted to, but with former big man Austin Wiley gone to Auburn, Johnson did everything he could to try and get the Jaguars on the right level.

At one point in the season the Jags had lost eight of nine games and were off to a 6-10 start, which caused several people to have doubts about how good this 2016-17 Spain Park squad actually was.

Not many people realize they were playing some of the best teams from across the country and state during the early part of their schedule. This is when Johnson said enough is enough and turned into a machine.

He led SPHS to three wins over top-5 teams the remainder of the way, including a second place finish in probably the toughest classification in 7A.

Those upsets included No. 1 Mountain Brook, who went on to win the state championship, No. 2 Hoover and No. 3 Huffman. He had 31 against the Spartans, 29 against the Bucs and 19 against the Vikings.

The senior standout finished the season averaging 24.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

He and Reese are both offensive juggernauts and will be very compelling to watch not only in this All-Star game, but as they transition into the college game where they are both suited for strong careers.

Congrats and good luck to you both. Thanks for making basketball in this state and county something for people to pay attention to.