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Troup’s O’Neal getting his chance

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It was a true band of brothers.

The seniors on the Troup High boys’ basketball team last season were all close, and the joy they had playing together was obvious when they were on the court together.

One of those seniors, Camren O’Neal, said “I’ve got friends that are going to last a lifetime. I can call any of those boys and talk to them anytime.”

O’Neal no doubt wasted little time in letting his friends and former teammates know the good news last week when he announced his intention to play basketball for the Atlanta Warriors of the Southeast Athletic Conference.

O’Neal will get an opportunity to play basketball on the college level, and if things go well, perhaps transfer to a four-year school down the road.

“When the coach was telling me about everything, I just felt comfortable going there,” O’Neal said.

The 6-foot-1 O’Neal brought a great deal of energy to the court for Troup, and he was a standout defensive player, and offensively he had the ability to score himself or distribute the ball to his teammates.

“He was perfect for what we needed,” said Troup head coach Blake Craft. “He was that spark in the front of the press, he was an energy guy. He played with boundless energy.”

Craft added that “I’m glad he’ll get a chance to play at the next level, I really am.”

O’Neal didn’t play basketball when he was in middle school, and he joined the Troup team as a freshman in 2016.

O’Neal had hoped to have a breakout season as a junior, but things didn’t go as well as he’d hoped.

“My junior year didn’t go how I wanted it to go, and coach Craft just told me to keep working, and get in the gym and get ready for my senior year,” O’Neal said. “I just trusted the process.”

O’Neal returned as a senior and was one of the Tigers’ top players, and he was able to run the floor with his good friends.

“It was really like we were outside playing pickup ball,” O’Neal said.

When O’Neal looks back on how far he’s come in so many areas of his life, he’s thrilled to get the opportunity to play basketball in college.

“It’s like a dream come true for real,” O’Neal said. “I didn’t expect to do this.

O’Neal is hopeful that, as much progress as he’s made as a player, the best is yet to come.

“I just started playing basketball my ninth-grade year, and I’m just getting better and better as I go,” O’Neal said.