CyberBull Posted May 6, 2008 Group: Member Topic Count: 0 Content Count: 2,657 Reputation: 38 Days Won: 1 Joined: 10/04/2000 Share Posted May 6, 2008 Daniels, McLaurin picked All-Big Bend boys players of the year May 4, 2008 They're also good guys off court By Jim Lamar DEMOCRAT SPORTS EDITOR The award they share today is the Tallahasee Democrat's Big Bend Player of the Year in boys basketball. But when it comes to Lincoln High's B.J. Daniels and East Gadsden High's Sam McLaurin, the award could easily be re-named the Good Guy Award. Because when their respective coaches talk about both Daniels and McLaurin, the focus shifts to character before anything else. "Sam is very helpful in so many ways in our community," East Gadsden coach Dimitric Salters said. "He volunteers his time with youth organizations and with the Urban League. He tutors kids. Those are the things that make Sam such a special kid Ã¢â‚¬â€ the time he devotes to the youths in our community. Those are the things that make me wish we had him again." Said Lincoln coach Paul O'Halloran: "B.J. is a great kid and a super competitor. He really developed into a great leader at our school. He was a four-year starter in football and basketball. He steadily progressed each year. It's amazing for a guy to play a sport part-time and accomplish what he did in basketball. What he did this year is unbelievable." Daniels and McLaurin share Player of the Year honors after remarkable senior seasons and, really, remarkable careers. Travis Blanton, who led Marianna to the Final Four for the first time in more than 20 years, is the Tallahassee Democrat's choice for Big Bend Coach of the Year. Though the Democrat's archives have yet to be fully searched to verify it, Daniels is believed to be the first player to win Player of the Year honors in both football and basketball in the same season. A four-year starter as quarterback for the Trojans, Daniels signed to play football at the University of South Florida, where he plans to also play basketball. His strength in both sports is, well, his strength. Opposing guards on the basketball court were simply unable to slow Daniels down this season. He averaged 27 points per game and broke the school's season record for scoring average. He seemed, at times, to play in his own league. "He's like a shorter version of LeBron James," said McLaurin, who did not play against Daniels this season but said he watched him play several times. "When he wanted to go to the hole, they couldn't stop him because he's so strong. "Once he goes to the basket you're not going to take it from him. He's unbelievably strong with the ball. At one of the games I was at, some of the fans were calling him Hercules." Hercules had similar praise for McLaurin, whose 13.9 points-per-game scoring average might not serve as the true barometer of his ability. McLaurin earned Player of the Year honors as a junior and played a huge role on an East Gadsden team that cruised through the regular season with a 26-0 record. McLaurin also averaged 16.8 rebounds and 4.5 steals per game. "We're pretty close," Daniels said. "I didn't see him much this year, but I know he's a really good big man. He's a dominant force in the post. He does a lot more for his team than just score points. He rebounds, he blocks shots, he passes Ã¢â‚¬â€ there's so much more to his game than just scoring points." McLaurin and teammate Rashard McGill, also a repeat first-team member of the All-Big Bend team, signed to play at Coastal Carolina for Marianna native Cliff Ellis. A 6-foot-8 forward who could seemingly score at will in the low post, McLaurin spent the last two years working on his perimeter game so he could transition to the wing in college. "Sam was a four-year starter for us, but he really didn't have great feet when he was a freshman," Salters said. "But he listened to us and he worked so hard to improve his game. Our plan coming into his senior year was to move him around on the perimeter a little bit more because we knew people would be double- and triple-teaming him. If they were going to do that, then we wanted to give him a chance to be a little more active all over the court and help us in other ways. That's why his other numbers like rebounding and assists went up this year." Daniels had a similar breakthrough in his senior season, but it was mostly seen in his scoring outbursts. He missed Lincoln's season opener because the Trojans were still in the football playoffs. He scored 18 points in a game against Madison County on Dec. 12 Ã¢â‚¬â€ his first game of the season. On Dec. 22, he recorded his first 30-point game of the season when he dropped 37 on John Paul II. He later scored 45 in a game at Taylor County. "You could see it coming in the summer," O'Halloran said. "He became so physically strong that most high-school kids could not stop him from going to the basket. This senior year, he really started finishing around the basket better either with a power lay-up or a dunk. "He averaged 16 points a game as a junior, and then everything just kicked in for him as a senior. He developed the ability to take over a game." Both players also showed a knack for taking over their campus as high-character kids who earned praises from everyone around them. A query about McLaurin at any gym in the area almost always came back with the same answer: "The best thing about him is he's such a great kid." And Daniels, who carried the leadership role for two playoff teams on the Lincoln campus, earned similar praises. "I know B.J., and I know his family," Salters said. "He's a great kid from a great, great family. "That's what is so special about both B.J. and Sam. They are family-oriented kids from great backgrounds. They perform on the court and they are outstanding student-athletes. They are just perfect players that any coach would want to coach." http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080504/SPORTS01/805040340 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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