COVINGTON, Ga. — The 2021-22 boys basketball season was packed with a lot of high profile games and historical moments. Featured in those games and moments were some notable performances by local student-athletes in the Newton County area.
With the basketball season’s end a few weeks removed, The Covington News staff compiled the All-Covington News boys basketball team to recognize the area’s top players.
This year’s team begins with three special honors: Most Valuable Player, Newcomer (Freshman) of the Year and Coach of the Year.
Most Valuable Player
Stephon Castle (Newton)
Having three Division I commits in the starting lineup for the Newton Rams was sure to bring a lot of attention to this year’s team. The player seemingly rising to the occasion game in and game out was Stephon Castle.
During his junior campaign, the UConn commit averaged 16.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Castle’s averages led the Rams, too.
In addition to his stat line, Castle racked up quite a few accolades throughout the season.
Castle earned a spot on the 2022 Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic All-Tournament team. He also made an appearance on the Hard in the Paint All-Tournament team. Lastly, during the Region 4-AAAAAAA tournament, Castle was announced as the region’s Player of the Year.
Newcomer of the Year
Timothy Prather (Eastside)
Before the season even began for Eastside, head coach Dorrian Randolph spoke highly of a freshman joining this year’s team named Timothy Prather. Randolph told The Covington News that he believed Prather would make an immediate impact on the Eagles’ program.
Prather seemed to answer the call.
The freshman Eagle finished averaging 8.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Prather’s points per game were second on the team behind only senior Raje Benton.
Not only was Prather’s final statistics noteworthy, but considering the fact that he served as the team’s point guard and, as a result, the Eagles’ primary ball-handler, Prather seemed to handle all the pressure and responsibility well all season.
Coach of the Year
Taylor Jackson (Social Circle)
In his third season at the helm of the Social Circle boys basketball program, head coach Taylor Jackson led the Redskins to heights unimaginable just a few years ago.
And, even though the Redskins’ season ended in a controversial fashion, it does not take away from what this year’s team accomplished.
To start with, Social Circle finished with a 30-1 overall record, which included an unblemished 25-0 regular season record. The Redskins also captured the Region 8A-Public championship, advancing them to the state tournament for the third consecutive season.
In the state playoffs, Social Circle advanced to Elite Eight and the Final Four — both first appearances in program history.
All of this was accomplished on Jackson’s watch.
Tyrhell Branch (Social Circle)
- 15 ppg, 3 rpg, 2.6 apg and 1.3 spg
- First Team All-Region selection for Region 8A-Public, 1,000-point scorer, GACA/GBCA All-State selection for A-Public by GACA/GBCA and Second Team selection by Hoopseen GA.
Marquavious Brown (Newton)
- 11.1 ppg, 5 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.1 spg
- Second Team All-Region selection for Region 4-7A, First All-Defense selection for Region 4-7A and “Hard in the Paint” All-Tournament team.
Ben Hodges (Alcovy)
- 14.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.2 apg and 1.1 spg
- Second Team All-Region selection for Region 3-6A.
Jakai Newton (Newton)
- 14.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 1.7 apg
- First Team All-Region selection for Region 4-7A, All-State selection, 2022 Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic MVP and “Hard in the Paint” All-Tournament selection.
KJ Reid (Social Circle)
- 15 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg and 2.5 spg
- Region 8A-Public Player of the Year, Hoopseen GA A-Public State Player of the Year, Pope Hounds Holiday Hoopsgiving Tournament MVP, GACA/GBCA All-State A-Public and 1,000 point scorer.
Raje Benton (Eastside)
- 10.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 1.2 bpg
- First Team All-Region for Region 8-5A.
Cam Gaither (Social Circle)
- 10 ppg, 4 rpg, 1.6 apg and 1.4 spg.
- First Team selection for Region 8A-Public and GACA/GBCA All-State A-Public
Byron Howard (Alcovy)
- 12.5 ppg, 3.7 rbp, 1.2 apg and 1.6 spg
- Honorable Mention for Region 3-6A.
Kassen Saunders (Eastside)
- 9.1 ppg, 48% 3-point field goal percentage and 85% free throw percentage
Marcus Whitlock (Newton)
- 14 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 1.5 apg
- Second Team selection for Region 4-7A and 1,000-point scorer.
Lamarius Jackson (Social Circle)
- 11 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.3 spg
- Second Team All-Region selection for Region 8A-Public and Pope Hounds Holiday Hoopsgiving Tournament All-Tournament Team
Daniel Pounds (Newton)
- 7.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 1.3 bpg
- Honorable Mention for Region 4-7A
Kendarrius Spear (Alcovy)
- 8.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 2.8 rpg
- Honorable Mention for Region 3-6A.
Jacquez Williams (Eastside)
- 5.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg and 3.1 apg
Members of the 2022 All-Covington News team were selected by a panel including Sports Editor Phillip B. Hubbard, and Editor and Publisher Taylor Beck.