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SGTC’s Jalen Reynolds named GCAA Division I Men’s basketball Player of Year for 2021

By Su Ann Bird

 

AMERICUS – South Georgia Technical College’s Jalen Reynolds, a 6’ 7” sophomore forward from Darien, Georgia, was selected as the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association’s (GCAA) Men’s Division I basketball Player of the Year for 2021. The announcement was made by GCAA Commissioner David Elder.  Reynolds helped lead his team to a 69-64 victory over Southern Crescent College in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Region 17 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Tuesday, April 6 at the Hangar on the SGTC campus.

Two other members of the third-ranked Jets basketball squad were singled out for honors by the GCAA this season.  Freshman guard Will Johnston, 6’ 2” from Sydney Australia, was named Freshman of the Year for 2021 and freshman guard Marvin McGhee, 6’ 4” from Atlanta, GA, was named to the GCAA All-Region second team.

“I am very proud of all three of these guys as well as the whole team,” said South Georgia Technical College Jets interim head coach Chris Ballauer.  “These guys have worked hard and really turned the program around in a very difficult season.  Jalen Reynolds has been our leader on and off the court and Will Johnston and Marvin McGhee came in as freshmen and really made their mark on our program and in our conference.”

As the GCAA Player of the Year and one of only three returners from last year, Jalen Reynolds started all 22 games for the South Georgia Technical College Jets for the 2020 -2021 season, which was condensed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  He is leading the team in scoring with an average of 14.9 points per game.  He is the National Junior College Athletic Association’s top rebounder and is averaging 12.6 per game.  He averaged 4.2 offensive rebounds and 8.4 defensive rebounds each game.

He stays on the court an average of 26.2 minutes per game, shoots 58.7% from the field, hits 33.3% of his three-point attempts and 57.1% of his free throws.  He is also averaging 1.6 blocks, 1 steal, and 1.1 assists each time he steps on the court.

Reynolds was also listed as a first team All-Region player in the GCAA and was listed on the GCAA Division 1 All-Defensive All-Region team.  SGTC freshman Will Johnston was also listed in two spots.  In addition to the Freshman of the Year, Johnston was picked as a member of the first team All-Freshman squad.

Johnston played in 20 games for the Jets this season and started 19.  He is averaging 13.8 points per game.  He makes 37.7% of his shots from the field and 33.3% of his three-point attempts.  He is also an 81.6% shooter from the foul line.  Johnston is on the court 27.4 minutes per game, averages 4.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

The third member of the Jets basketball team to be spotlighted is another freshman, Marvin McGhee.  McGhee is the second leading scorer for the Jets with 14.7 points per game.  He has started all 22 games for the Jets this season.  His three-point scoring percentage of 38.1 is almost as high as his overall field goal percentage of 39.7.  He is also hitting 70.8 percent of his free-throws.  The freshman guard is averaging 7.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals each outing.

J.J. Merritt of Georgia Highlands was selected as the Coach of the Year in the GCAA after he led his team to the regular season conference title with a 14 – 2, and 16 – 2 record.  Their losses were to South Georgia Tech and South Georgia State.  Albany Technical College’s Zeff Felton was the GCAA Defensive Player of the Year.

In addition to SGTC Reynolds on the first team GCAA All-Region, Jalen King of South Georgia State College, Chris Wright of Georgia Highlands, JahNile Hill of Gordon State and Marquavius Willingham of Southern Crescent Tech were spotlights. Bryce Brown of South Georgia State, Jacquez Fountain of Albany Tech, Preston Crisp of East Georgia, Keandre Bowles of Georgia Highlands and Marvin McGhee of South Georgia Tech were the players named to the second team All-Region squad.

Five players receiving honorable mention and they included:  Langston Wilson of Georgia Highlands, Carlos Michols of Southern Crescent, Cahiem Brown of Georgia Highlands, Nick Jiles of South Georgia State and Johntovious Chester of Andrew College.  The All-Defensive team included:  Jeff Felton on Albany State, Jayce Moore of South Georgia State, Marquavius Willingham of Southern Crescent, Dominic Pierce of Central Georgia Tech, Langston Wilson of Georgia Highlands, and Jalen Reynolds of South Georgia Tech.

The All-Freshman Team was led by South Georgia Tech’s William Johnston, Carlos Nichols of Southern Crescent, Varun Danak of Gordon State, Joel Pullen of Georgia Highlands and Cam Singletary of Albany Tech.

Coach Ballauer is honored that the Jets had three players singled out for their performances in the GCAA this season, but he realizes that now the real work begins.  “We have to win to keep playing,” said Ballauer.  “That is how this works.  You win or you go home.  I believe that our team has a lot of playing left.  We know we can play with anybody, but we will have to play.”

The Jets started the 2020 – 2021 year off with back to back losses to Tallahassee Community College and Chipola.  But then staged a big win against Northwest Florida State College.  They lost two more games to USC Salkehatchie and Tallahassee to start the year off 1 – 4 against very good competition.  They finished the regular season at 13 – 9 and 11 – 5 in the conference.

“Our team never quit.  They came back and won the next five games.  We stubbed our toes and split games with top-ranked Georgia Highlands, Southern Crescent Tech, Albany Tech, Gordon, and East Georgia.  We had a chance to finish higher than third place, but what matters now is what we do tonight in the GCAA quarterfinals,” said Ballauer.  “I would love to have the opportunity to advance and play for the NJCAA Region 17 tournament title.”

SGTC will travel to Waycross, GA on Friday, April 9 to take on South Georgia State in the NJCAA Region 17 Tournament Semifinals. Tip off for that game is scheduled for 7 p.m.  The winner of this semifinal game will take on the winner of the other semifinal game between East Georgia State and Central Georgia Tech in the championship game in Waycross on Saturday, April 10 at 2 p.m.