For some seniors, Sunday’s ASG a chance for ‘a final look’


Northern Nash’s Darquez Flowers, right, drives by Eastern Alamance’s LJ Rogers during the fourth round of the 3-A state tournament earlier this month.


Sports Writer

Saturday, March 23, 2019

According to Tizzo Johnson, one of the game’s organizers, last year’s inaugural Tri-Counties All-Star Game, with college coaches in attendance, led to five scholarship offers for five senior players in the boys’ game. 

This year, the two games — the girls’ are set to tip at 4:30 on Sunday; the boys’ at 6 p.m., both at Northern Nash High School — have a wider net and a spiffy new name, but the goal of creating exposure remains. 

The new moniker for the event: The Eastern North Carolina All-Star Game; the rosters this time around are comprised of 20 girls and 20 boys drawn from nine counties in the region instead of just Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe Counties, like last year’s. 

Among the faces those from Rocky Mount will recognize is Darquez Flowers, the senior at Northern Nash who will get one final chance to play on his home court on Sunday after his Knights were bested in the fourth round of the 3-A state playoffs earlier this month. 

It’ll also be one final on-court chance to impress however many college coaches end up attending the game — Johnson wasn’t sure of the exact number, he said, but expects a turnout similar to last year’s game.

“I’m hoping this game for Darquez works out,” said Northern Nash boys’ coach Henry Drake, who will be coaching Team Drake on Sunday, against Flowers, who will be coached by Jolly Manning’s team. “When you mention All-Star, college coaches like that. The best in the area — that draws a lot of attention.”

Perhaps, said Drake, it could make up for the attention Flowers lost at the beginning of the season. The senior played a large portion to start the 2018-19 year recovering from a broken left hand, and his numbers suffered because of the injury. 

Overall, the 6-foot-3 guard and forward averaged 9.3 points per game in 24 games but his numbers jumped toward the end of the season as his hand healed. He averaged 13.8 points over his final 10 regular season games and scored 26 in the season-ending playoff loss to Eastern Alamance, at times looking like Northern Nash’s best player. 

To Drake, that final span was much more indicative of the player Flowers projects to be at the college level. So far, he said, Flowers has received interest from NCAA Division III schools and junior colleges, but also some of late from NCAA Division II schools in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. 

“He will be an asset to some college. Any college,” Drake said. “He’s really got his hopes set on a small Division I or a Division II school. We’re hoping we can find the right fit for him.” 

Him, and every other player during Sunday’s game looking for a landing spot.

“I’m not just hoping it works out for my kids. I’m an advocate for all our kids,” Drake said. “Rocky Mount High, Nash Central, Southern Nash — I hope this All-Star Game captures a lot of coaches’ eyes for a lot of kids in the area.” 

Local seniors for the girls’ game: A’Nya Bobbitt, Northern Nash; Jada Morris, Rocky Mount High; Kayla Mitchell, Northern Nash; Ro’Quielia Tillery, Northern Nash; Mya Pittman, Rocky Mount High.

Local seniors for the boys’ game: Chris High, Nash Central; Trevor Batchelor, Rocky Mount Prep; Davontae Wiggins, Northern Nash; Joseph Cherry-Blue, Northern Nash; Artavious Allen, Southern Nash; Tybiaus Harrison, Rocky Mount High; Omar Richardson, Nash Central; Trevon Brantley, Wilson Beddingfield; Avante’ Simmons, Nash Central; Sam Benton, Rocky Mount Prep; Sam Page, Northern Nash; Darquez Flowers, Northern Nash; Terrance Collins, SouthWest Edgecombe; Zataeveun Knight, Rocky Mount High.