Granger duo getting their shot
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
LaGrange High’s Javon Brown was a highlight machine last season, with his soaring dunks or emphatic blocks energizing his teammates and often helping tilt things in his team’s favor.
Avery Hill, meanwhile, provided a spark with his ability to knock down shots from long distance, and he brought energy to the court whenever he was in the game.
Brown and Hill were key members of a team that reached the state tournament, and now the two former teammates will get a chance to play the game in college.
Hill is staying in Georgia to join the Brewton Parker College program, and Brown will head north after signing with Southeast Community College in Nebraska.
“My coaching staff, we’re very proud of both of these guys,” said LaGrange head coach Mark Veal. “They have worked extremely hard.”
Brown has been a key contributor on the team for the past few years, and he had an exceptional senior season.
One of Brown’s most memorable games came when he scored 20 points as LaGrange beat Troup in the Region 2-AAAA tournament.
That win propelled the Grangers into the state tournament while ending the season for the Tigers.
“It was a bittersweet moment,” Brown said. “I have a family member on that team, KJ Tucker. It felt good to continue my season, but I didn’t want to end his at the same time.”
Brown is the latest in a long line of LaGrange players that have played basketball at Southeast Community College.
For Brown, going to Southeast is a means to an end.
“My dream is to go pro,” Brown said. “I don’t care if it’s overseas, or in the league. I just want to play pro. I just chose what I felt was the best route to get there.”
At Southeast, Brown figures he’ll get a chance to showcase his abilities.
“I just talked to the coaches, and they felt like I could start, which is very important,” Brown said.
Veal believes Brown hasn’t come close to reaching his ceiling as a player.
“Javon has decided to go the JUCO route, and if he keeps improving like he has, the sky’s the limit with him,” Veal said. “Every coach I talked to talks about how great a kid he is, how great his character is, how hard he works. We’re all proud of him. We’re excited for him.”
Hill, meanwhile, had far and away his most impactful season as a senior while trying to live up to the standard said by a family member who is a coach on the team.
Kerun Hill, a member of LaGrange’s staff, was on the LaGrange team that went unbeaten before losing in the state-championship game in 2010.
“It felt great, trying to help our program, help our guys win,” Hill said. “All the pressure of the Grangers of the past, and trying to live up to my cousin, coach Kerun Hill. He was a part of that 31-1 team. You have those expectations, and you try to live up to it. It’s the pressure I put on myself.”
Hill, Veal said, did whatever it took to succeed.
“Avery comes in at 6:30 in the morning,” Veal said. “You don’t see that on social media. It’s not something he brags about.”
In another example of Hill’s commitment, he never shied away from getting between an opposing player and the basket.
“I think he probably took the record, if we keep the record, for charges taken in a game,” Veal said.
Hill spent his high-school years without his father, Mitchell, Hill who died in 2016 at the age of 47.
Mitchell Hill was actively involved in youth basketball in LaGrange, and he was and remains a driving force for Avery Hill.
“I think of him every day,” Hill said. “Everything I do, I try to do it for him.”