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Gwinnett grads: Ole Miss' Black shows she can play in the SEC

Shantell Black didn't lack for exposure.

She played high school basketball for one of the nation's best programs at Collins Hill, which finished No. 2 nationally in the USA Today rankings her senior season and played in the most high-profile tournaments. Her junior teammate, Maya Moore, was selected as the nation's top player, so college coaches knew all about Collins Hill.

But still the 5-foot-4 point guard didn't have a slew of high-level scholarship offers. She made a commitment to Alabama-Birmingham before Ole Miss made a late push, and she signed with the Rebels. It was her only offer from an SEC or ACC school.

"I guess the majority of the teams didn't pick me because of my height," said Black, now a sophomore at Ole Miss. "They were looking at stats and I didn't score a lot in high school. I bet a lot of them wish they (signed me) now. But I'm not really worried about it. I'm happy where I'm at now."

After backing up a senior last season, Black has certainly shown she belongs in the SEC.

She averages 10.4 points (third on the Rebels), a team-high 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals. She leads the SEC in assists and ranks 13th nationally in that category.

She racks up the assist numbers despite playing the majority of her time at the shooting guard position because of an injury to a teammate who started at the two-guard spot. She moved over from the point guard position, although she still plays point guard some of the time.

"I make better decisions than (last season) as far as being a leader and being a point guard," Black said. "I've learned to lead my team more on the floor overall and to take care of the ball better. But I'm also become more of an offensive threat as well."

Ole Miss enters the weekend with an 8-9 record, but it played a tough schedule outside of SEC play, so Black thinks her team still has NCAA potential.

"I think we can make it back to the NCAA Tournament if we win the majority of our SEC games," Black said. "We've already played one of the toughest schedules in our conference."

BASKETBALL

Toney debuts for UAB after UGA transfer

Brookwood grad Channing Toney made his long-awaited debut at Alabama-Birmingham after sitting out the 2006-07 season for his transfer from Georgia. He wasn't eligible at UAB until this January, but has played in three games for the Blazers.

The 6-foot-5, 207-pound junior came off the bench in his first two games, but started 13-6 UAB's most recent game, a 77-59 win over East Carolina. He had 10 points and four rebounds in that win.

Toney, the son of former NBA player Andrew Toney, averages 7.7 points and 3.3 rebounds for former Indiana coach Mike Davis. He has made 5 of 11 3-pointers (45.5 percent).

Allen scores 17 for No. 10 Michigan State

Meadowcreek grad Chris Allen, a freshman for 10th-ranked Michigan State, had one of his best college games so far on Thursday night in a 78-62 win over Northwestern.

Allen came off the bench with 17 points, three rebounds and three assists. He made 5 of 7 field goals, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

The 6-3 guard averages 7.1 points and 13.6 minutes for the 17-2 team. He has missed four games with injuries.

Anderson gets A-10 rookie award

Richmond freshman Kevin Anderson, a Peachtree Ridge grad, was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Rookie of the Week earlier this week after averaging 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists the previous week.

Anderson had career highs of 20 points and eight rebounds along with three assists in a win over St. Bonaventure. He averages 9.1 points, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals (fourth in the A-10). He also is eighth in the league in minutes played (33.5).

Tech women host Gwinnettians

Georgia Tech's next two home women's basketball games will feature opponents with Gwinnett grads on the roster.

The Yellow Jackets host Clemson and Shiloh grad April Parker on Thursday, then they host Florida State and South Gwinnett grad Antionette Howard on Feb. 3. The Clemson game is a 7 p.m. start and the Florida State game begins at 4.

Parker averages 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds for the 9-11 Tigers while Howard averages 7.2 points and 3.7 boards for the 14-6 Seminoles.

Efezokhae shines at Jacksonville State

Jacksonville State sophomore Jolie Efezokhae, a North Gwinnett grad, averages team highs of 13.2 points and 6.6 rebounds. She also leads her team in minutes per game (31.3) and field-goal percentage (48.0).

Three weeks ago, Efezokhae was named the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week after a 30-point effort (21 in the second half) against Austin Peay. She also had nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks in that win.

Morgan paces North Georgia

Buford grad Andre Morgan, who transferred to North Georgia from Kennesaw State, is the top scorer for the Saints.

Morgan averages 16.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals. He shares the starting backcourt with fellow Buford grad Jakirra Millsap, who averages 4.8 points and 3.0 assists.

North Gwinnett grad Lee Burrell (5.1 points) and Norcross grad Matt Maddox are reserve guards for North Georgia.

Gwinnett grads power Oglethorpe

Four Gwinnett grads have helped the Oglethorpe women's basketball team to a 14-2 record and a No. 22 national ranking this season.

Norcross resident Katie Kulavic, who went to St. Pius, averages 15.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists. The junior also leads the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in shooting (60.9 percent).

Central Gwinnett grad Elizabeth Richmann, who has returned recently from a knee injury, averages 7.9 points and 3.4 rebounds. The junior is a two-time All-SCAC player.

Fellow junior Jamie Osmanson, a Peachtree Ridge grad, has played in all 16 games and averages 5.0 points, with a high of 13 against Birmingham Southern. Freshman Arielle Brown, a Brookwood grad, has played in 12 games with a season high of eight points against Meredith College.

Wilson helps Gadsden State to first place

Gadsden State Community College guard Shannon Wilson, a Buford grad, has helped her team to first place in the Alabama Community College Conference's North Division. Wilson averages 14.4 points, 2.7 assists and 2.1 steals.

ACADEMICS

Locals make SEC Honor Roll

Twelve Gwinnett grads made the Southeastern Conference Fall Academic Honor Roll, which was released by the league on Friday.

Four of the honorees were from Georgia - football players Mikey Henderson (Buford) and Brannan Southerland (Greater Atlanta Christian), soccer player Tori Carroll (North Gwinnett) and volleyball player Katie Winschel (Collins Hill).

Others on the list were: Alabama football player Jamie Christensen (Norcross), Arkansas soccer player Allison Harris (Shiloh), Auburn soccer player Jennifer Johnson (GAC), Kentucky football player Greg Curtin (Duluth), Kentucky soccer player Megan Jones (Collins Hill), Ole Miss football player Jason Cook (North Gwinnett), Mississippi State soccer player Stephanie Dallas (Brookwood) and South Carolina football player Nate Spurrier (Brookwood).

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.