By Chris McCarthy
A pair of Gadsden City High School student-athletes were recognized on Wednesday (Apr. 6) in Montgomery.
Senior guard Kalin Johnson and junior guard Haley Troup were among 42 players honored by the Alabama Sports Writers Association as finalists for 2015-16 Player of the Year honors for the 2015-16 basketball season.
Jeff Davis’ Jasmine Walker and J.O. Johnson’s John Petty were named Mr. and Miss Basketball, respectively.
In 31 games this past season, Johnson averaged 24.3 while shooting 50.2 percent (107-for-212) from the three-point line and 78 percent (100-for-128) from the free-throw line while helping the Titans to a 24-8 record, an area title and the championship game of the Northeast Regional Tournament. According to the GCHS coaching staff, his three-point percentage this season was the third-best in AHSAA history.
Johnson broke every school scoring record, including career points (1,481), single season points (758), most point in a game (40), most 3-point baskers in a game (eight), career 3-point baskets (186); most 3-point baskets in a single season (107), Most career field goals (441), most field goal sin a season (274); and most free throws in a career (213).
Both Johnson and Troup were named to the Class 7A All-State first team earlier this month.
“To even be invited to such an esteemed event speaks highly for Kalin,” said GCHS boys head basketball coach Reginald Huff. “He’s a leader who works hard both in practice and in the weight room. He’s not very vocal but he leads by example on the court. He was a very big part of our success this season. Right now he’s working hard to stay in shape while working with our younger guys to help them get better for next season.”
Johnson is considering several junior college scholarship offers, including Gadsden State, Snead State, Marion Military, Wallace-Hanceville, Shelton State, Chipola (Fla.) State and Iowa Central.
Troup averaged 17.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists while shooting 80 percent (111-for-139) at the foul line in 27 games.
“It was an honor to be there and I was thankful I got to go,” said Troup. “Hopefully I can get to go next year.”
Troup has numerous scholarship offers that she has narrowed down to Auburn, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Texas and Texas Tech. She expects to make a decision following her official visits and before the start of her senior season.
Troup will compete in AAU ball during the summer before focusing her attention on her final season as a Lady Titan.
“Wining a state championship is the only thing on our mind right now,” she said. “I really think we have a good chance with the girls coming back. We really want to go out with a bang, and it should be exciting.”
Haley’s dad Kevin was a four-year starter at guard at Emma Sansom High School from 1985-89 before playing at Gadsden State and Athens State. The elder Troup, who was boys basketball coach at both Emma Sansom amd Southside, sees similarities between he and his daughter on the hardwood.
“I think we’re both the type of players who try to make the right play at the right time on every possession and take what the defense gives you. Part of the job as a guard is to be a coach on the floor and get people in the right situation. It’s really been a special year for me to sit back and watch her play and be a dad.”
Haley currently has 1,740 career points, 1,017 career rebounds and 724 career assists.
“For Haley to be a finalist for such an award is a real honor, especially for her being a junior,” said GCHS girls head basketball coach Jeremy Brooks. “She leaves school at fifth block three or four days a week and works with a personal trainer on her strength and conditioning, which not many kids are willing to do in the off-season. That’s what’s separates a good player from being a great player. She also plays against top competition in AAU ball during the summer.”
The Super 5 boys team consisted of Petty, Austin Wiley of Spain Park, Joshua Langford of Madison Academy, Javien Williams of Woodlawn and Alex Reese of Pelham.
The Super 5 girls team featured Walker, Japonica James of LeFlore, Kaitlyn Rodgers of Wenonah, Emma Wallen of Lauderdale County and Cierra Johnson of Blount.
The boys Playerr of the Year for each classification were Wiley in 7A, Williams in 6A, Petty in 5A, 4A: Trey Petty of Westminster-Huntsville in 4A, Langford in 3A, Triston Chambers of Cold Springs in 2A and Diante Wood of Sacred Heart in 1A.
The girls Player of the Year for each classification were Walker in 7A, James in 6A, Rodgers in 5A, Charity Brown of Sipsey Valley in 4A; Wallen in 3A, Lacy Stafford of Geneva County in 2A and Harriet Winchester of Keith in 1A.