0

GWINNETT GRADS: Strong finish

Wade Weldon's busy holiday season included a major commitment, his engagement to his high school sweetheart at Greater Atlanta Christian, Kathleen Davis.

The event was the highlight of the Oglethorpe senior's winter break, but married life still isn't immediately on the horizon. Both he and Davis, a senior at Georgia, must finish college.

And Weldon has some work to finish on the basketball court.

A key starter in a balanced lineup, he averages 10 points and 5 rebounds for a Stormy Petrels team that has won six straight games. They sport an 8-3 record and sit atop the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference standings at 3-0.

"I definitely think this team has a lot of potential," Weldon said. "We haven't really seen what we're capable of yet. I think we've got a really good chance at (the) conference (title)."

The SCAC title is foremost on the mind of Weldon and his teammates, including sophomore Erik Strong (5.5 points, 6.5 rebounds), a Wesleyan grad. It would be an ideal finish to the college career for Weldon, a four-year contributor whose versatility has been a strength.

The 6-foot, 195-pounder plays a three-guard position, though last season his team's lack of height forced him to work more on the interior (he averaged 12 points and six rebounds). He manages to handle the inside game with his strength, making up for his lack of height.

He hasn't been forced inside as much this season, but plays just as big a role as a leader and solid shooter. He's making 51.1 percent of his shots.

"I tried to assume my role as a verbal leader and take the shots when they're there," Weldon said. "We've got a lot of scorers, so we don't need guys going one-on-one with people or hogging the ball. We've got too many scorers."

The team has worked well together during its recent winning streak, which Weldon sees as a good sign for the rest of his season. He can only hope it goes as well as his other big event of the winter.

"I went to the spot where we first kissed outside her door, on the front walkway, five years ago," Weldon said of his Dec. 21 proposal. "I tried to surprise her and called her to come outside. I did my best to make it romantic. It went really well."

BASKETBALL

Evans finds Long Island home

Kiara Evans, who started her college career at Louisville, is off to a nice start with her new team at Long Island University.

The Berkmar grad averages 10.3 points, 7.2 assists and 2.3 steals for the Blackbirds (8-5).

Evans, a sophomore guard, set a school record with 15 assists in an 83-62 win over North Dakota on Dec. 29. Earlier in December, she had 17 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and six steals in a victory over Bryant.

Anderson gets A-10 honor

Peachtree Ridge grad Kevin Anderson was named Atlantic 10 player of the week on Sunday after a huge week that included a 31-point game in Richmond's overtime loss to Wake Forest.

The junior guard also scored 25 vs. Bucknell and 24 vs. UNC-Wilmington, averaging 26.7 as the Spiders went 2-1. He scored all 24 of his points in the UNC-Wilmington game after halftime.

Anderson leads Richmond in scoring (18.1) and ranks second in the league in steals (2.3) and first in minutes per game (36.7).

Butler shines for Fordham

Fordham continued to struggle and fell to 2-11 on the season with a Wednesday loss to Massachusetts in the Atlantic 10 opener, but Norcross grad Brenton Butler has been solid.

The senior guard a huge game in the 78-76 loss to UMass, scoring a career-high 31 points on 12 of 23 shooting (6-for-11 from 3-point range). He also had six assists and four rebounds to go with his third straight game of 20-plus points. He's averaging 25.7 points over his last three games.

Fast break

Western Carolina's Emily Clarke, a South Gwinnett grad, had a career-high 27 points last weekend in a 66-58 win over Furman. She made six 3-pointers, leading the Catamounts in scoring for the fifth time in six games. ... Norcross grad Tiffany Clarke scored 18 points, including 15 in the first half on 7 of 9 shooting, as Vanderbilt defeated Ole Miss 86-72 last weekend. Collins Hill grad Shantell Black scored 13 for Ole Miss. ... New Orleans guard Billy Humphrey, a Dacula grad, missed two games with a knee injury, but returned to score 29 points last Saturday in a 68-58 win over Florida International. Unfortunately, he re-injured the knee Thursday night in a loss to Denver. ... Parkview grad Yaw Gyawu has helped Colgate bounce back from a rough start, scoring 18 points in last weekend's win over Longwood and adding 17 in a Monday night win over Central Connecticut. Colgate has won three of four since starting the season 0-9. ... Wesleyan's Dillon McLaughlin and Dacula's Clay Wages are both starters in LaGrange College's backcourt. McLaughlin averages 8.4 points and Wages averages 8.1.

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.