Thomas repeats as 5A Player of the Year
by LAVONTE YOUNG
Shakayla Thomas led the Sylacauga Lady Aggies to a 28-4 season. Brian Schoenhals
MONTGOMERY- For the second year in a row, Sylacauga’s Shakayla Thomas earned Class 5A Player of the Year honors at the annual ASWA Player of the Year Luncheon in Montgomery. The Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association sponsored the luncheon. Thomas said she really wasn’t sure that she was going to get Player of the Year honors, since finalist Jasmine Rhodes led Faith Academy to the state championship.

“It feels a little different,” Thomas said. “I had to come in here and get my mindset right and pray about it. Obviously, if you work hard you will succeed in life and I guess I succeeded.”

Thomas led the Sylacauga Lady Aggies to a 28-4 record this season. Sylacauga fell in the Class 5A Central Regional tournament for the second season in a row. Thomas averaged 31.9 points, 14.5 rebounds per game. This season, she joined the 3,000-point club and she became the all-time leader in rebounding in girl’s basketball history.

“I worked hard for it, I put in time,” Thomas said. “The whole team worked hard for it; if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have this. I have to work hard everyday.”

Sylacauga head coach Derrick Crawford was ecstatic about Thomas’s accomplishment on Thursday afternoon.

“Once again we are so proud of Shakayla,” Crawford said. “We congratulate her and her family today. She accomplished one of her goals—becoming Class 5A Player of the Year for the second year in a row. It is a good day. We thank God for the opportunity to be able to share this with her along with one of our administrators. We are extremely proud of her and the city of Sylacauga is extremely proud. I am extremely tickled and pleased to look around and see her sharing this moment with everybody. Her teammates are very thrilled to be a part of this process and what happened today. Once again, we salute Shakayla. This is Shakayla’s day and we are here to support her.”

Coming into the season, one of her goals was to win Miss. Basketball for the state of Alabama. She said not accomplishing her goal this season is going to make her work even harder in the off-season.

“I’m hungry for it,” she said. “I got a little taste of it and hopefully, next year I will have it.”

Thomas is currently ranked as the 29th ranked player in the 2014 Class on ESPN and sixth ranked forward. Thomas has goals of not just being the best player in the state, but she also thrives to be one of the best players in the nation.

“We are extremely tickled with that,” Crawford said. “I don’t think she is happy with that ranking right there. A good off-season with AAU basketball and a couple dunks in some tournaments. I think her ranking will jump up into the top five. She got where she can consistently dunk the basketball and throw down with authority. That alone—once some of the sports writers, ESPN and some of the major sports writers see that—her ranking will sky rocket. Once again we are tickled to have her here. It has been a joy to coach her since seventh grade year. I have watched her mature a lot over these last few years. Not a day goes by where we don’t talk or communicate with her other than to talk basketball. We are just extremely proud of her right now.”

Thomas is very grateful for all the people that helped her earn Player of the Year honors.

“I want to thank God,” Thomas said. “I would like to thank my team, the school for supporting me. I would like to thank all the teachers that helped me get my grades together and working with me after school.”

Hoover’s Marqu’es Webb won Miss Basketball honors. The Class 6A Player of the Year and Vanderbilt signee also earned the Gatorade Player of the Year honors for the state of Alabama.

Thomas earned 5A Player of the Year, while Oneonta’s Destiney Elliott won 4A Player of the Year honors, Clements’ Daneshia Malone earned 3A Player of the Year honors, Kristen Emerson of Prattville Christian won 2A Player of the Year honors, Anna Claire Noblit of Covenant won Class 1A Player of the Year, while Breanne DeBaets of Lee Scott won AISA Player of the Year honors.

Webb leads the girls Super 5 team which includes: Thomas, Faith Academy’s Jasmine Rhodes, Sparkman’s Alexis Jennings and Shades Valley’s Morgan Williams.

Central Coosa’s Xavier Moon was a finalist for Class 3A Player of the Year honors.

Wenonah’s De’Runnya Wilson earned Mr. Basketball honors. The Class 5A Player of the Year signed a football scholarship with Mississippi State. He may also play basketball with the Bulldogs.

Hazel Green’s Lewis Sullivan won 6A Player of the Year honors, William Lee of Dallas County won Class 4A Player of the Year honors, Joshua Langford of Madison Academy won 3A Player of the Year, Houston Academy’s Alex Thompson earned 2A Player of the Year honors, Brantley’s Wesley Person Jr, won Class 1A Player of the Year honors, while Ant Holtzclaw of Glenwood won class AISA Player of the Year honors.

Wilson leads the boys Super 5 team which includes: Madison Academy’s Joshua Langford, Hazel Green’s Lewis Sullivan, Carver –Montgomery’s Jeremy Johnson and Wenonah’s Justin Coleman.
© 2013