Hall, Upshaw selected for Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Basketball games

Published 6:42 pm Thursday, March 19, 2015

Two Crenshaw County athletes have been selected as the state’s best. Brantley High School senior Amahni Upshaw was selected for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star girls basketball game. Luverne High School’s Donta’ Hall will be playing for the boys team.

Twenty-four seniors were selected to represent Alabama in the 25th annual games, which will be held Friday evening at Alabama State University’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome. The girls’ game will tip off at 5 p.m. and the boys’ game will follow at 7.

Upshaw, a 6-foot forward at Brantley, was a three-time Class 1A All-State tournament selection. She averaged 10.1 points and 11.9 rebounds and was Class 1A state tournament MVP in 2014. She plans to play at Troy University next year.

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Five University of Alabama recruits will play on the boys team, including Hall.

At 6-foot-10, Hall will tower over teammates. Hall led the Tigers to the 2A state finals in 2014. He averaged 22 points, 19 rebounds, 12 blocks and four assists per game.

In addition to All-Star honors, Hall has been named to the All-State First Team for the third year in a row and he is up for Alabama’s Mr. Basketball.

“We’ve always thought that he was one of the elite players,” said Luverne Coach Richard Dorsey. “It just happened that sports writers recognized this as well.”

Hall has also been awarded the Bryant-Jordan athletic scholarship for the region from the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in conjunction with the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Ingram, a 6-5 guard, averaged 20.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game in sparking Theodore (28-5) to its first Class 7A state basketball tournament trip to the BJCC in 2015.

Lee-Montgomery’s 6-9 duo, Tommy Burton and Trenton Clayton, will join Hall on the post along with 6-7 forward Gerron Scissum of Lee-Huntsville. Scissum averaged 16.4 points while helping Lee reach the 6A state finals while Burton and Clayton, who averaged 16.4 and 10.3 ppg, respectively, led Montgomery-Lee to a 29-4 record and Class 7A state tournament berth.

Highlighting the Alabama boys is 2015 Class 6A state-tournament MVP Brandon Austin of state champion Carver-Montgomery. The 6-foot-5 forward and Alabama recruit averaged 18 points as a senior. He will be joined by fellow Alabama signee Dazon Ingram of Theodore.

Scissum and Burton are currently undecided about their college plans while Clayton is heading to Southeastern Louisiana. Guard Lawson Schaffer of Cullman, who sank 17-of-17 free throws in a 71-68 overtime win over Athens in the Northwest Regional semifinals, comes in as one of the state’s most accurate free-throw shooters in AHSAA history. Homewood guard Malik Cook-Stroup, who averaged 16.9 ppg in leading Homewood to the Class 6A state tournament, will join Schaffer in the backcourt.

Headlining the Alabama girls’ squad are four girls who played in the Class 7A State Tournament. Ta’Naisha Hill and Shaquera Wade represented Huntsville (32-4), Chloe Long and Rayven Pearson played for Hazel Green (29-6) in the semifinals.

Wade, averaged 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds, is heading to Alabama, Hill to Tennessee-Martin, Long and Pearson to Jacksonville State. Hill averaged 15.7 points as a senior, Long, 12.0 and Pearson, 16.0.

The games were played in Mississippi for the first time since 2002 last year, but return to Alabama this year. The games rotated between the two states from 1991-2002 but moved to Pelham Convention Center in 2003 where they remained through 2011. Alabama State hosted the games at Dunn-Oliver Acadome in 2012 and 2013.

Alabama won the boys’ game last year 90-83 with Mississippi winning the girls’ game 95-89. The Alabama boys now hold a 13-11 edge in the series while the girls’ series is even at 12-12.

Coaches for the Alabama girls’ squad are Donnie Roberts of Red Bay and LaKenya Knight of Jeff Davis. Roberts, 64, is the state’s all-leading career wins leader for girls’ basketball with an 835-347 slate over 42 seasons. He directed Red Bay (25-9) to the Class 2A state championship in 2015 and was 2A runner-up in 2014. Knight, 41, coached Jeff Davis (31-4) to the AHSAA’s first Class 7A state title this season. She has compiled a 219-66 record in 12 seasons. Brenda Mayes of Muscle Shoals is the administrative coach.

Coaches for Alabama’s boys are Hoover High School’s Charles Burkett and Obadiah Threadgill IV of Lafayette. Burkett directed the Bucs (27-9) to the Class 7A state championship winning 50-43 in the finals to beat two-time state champion Mountain Brook. Threadgill, 78-36 in four seasons, directed LaFayette (25-5) to the Class 2A state championship with a 69-39 win over defending champion Elba in the finals. He is the son of Notasulga coaching legend Obadiah Threadgill III. Burkett’s career record was unavailable. Jamie Lee of Decatur is the administrative coach.