Greater Atlanta Christian grad Reese Wiedeman and his Georgia College and State University teammates are working toward their third straight trip to the national tournament.
If this was April or May, Reece Wiedeman would have the freedom to do what is necessary — take a break from basketball and let his ailing ankles heal up.
There’s no time for that now. His Georgia College and State University basketball team needs its reliable 6-foot-8 post, and he’s not about to shut down his final college season, not as he and his teammates work toward a school-best third straight trip to the national tournament.
So night in and night out he battles, fighting off any discomfort from his injuries most of the time. He saw his minutes limited in two or three games when the ankles kept him from making it up and down the court at the pace his team prefers, but outside of that brief span, the Greater Atlanta Christian grad has taken few breaks.
Sure, he’s injured his right ankle once and his left ankle twice. If nothing else, he’s used to dealing with it.
“Ankles have always been a problem for me, going back to high school,” Wiedeman said. “They’re still sore. They’re always sore. But it doesn’t affect me too much.”
That kind of toughness pays dividends in the physical Peach Belt Conference and the senior is using it better than ever. He’s grown a few inches taller since he arrived at GCSU, but he’s mainly packed some extra power onto his frame.
He now carries a sturdy 250 pounds, which he’s learned to use to his advantage for the best season of his college career.
“Our league is definitely physical,” Wiedeman said. “You have to be able to be physical to compete. The refs aren’t going to call a lot of things, so you’ve got to play through it.”
For the better part of his career, he wasn’t such a go-to player.
After a redshirt season, he averaged 2.2 points as a freshman, 5.0 as a sophomore and 5.4 as a junior. They were solid numbers for a reserve post, just not the stats of a marquee post in one of the nation’s toughest NCAA Division II conferences.
He’s taken his game to a higher level this season, averaging 11.3 points (second on the team) and 5.0 rebounds thanks to his more aggressive play. He has earned GCSU’s athlete of the week honors three times during the season and was named the Peach Belt player of the week on Monday after averaging 19 points and 6.5 rebounds the previous week.
“Maybe it’s because it’s my senior year, but I’m putting more into it than I have,” said Wiedeman, whose basketball bloodlines include his mother LeeAnn, who played at Georgia Tech, and his younger brother Trent, a freshman at the College of Charleston. “I’m trying to make every minute count. I’m just having fun. We just really want to go to the national tournament. The school’s never had a team go to the national tournament three years in a row, so that’s our goal.”
The Bobcats, after a slow start, are getting closer to that goal. They’ve won five in a row — beating seventh-ranked Augusta State last week behind Wiedeman’s 25-point game on 10 of 15 shooting — to improve to 14-8 overall and 8-6 in the conference.
His teammates also have been playing well, including Brookwood grad Nate Hamilton, who has been one of the team’s top scorers late in the season. The GCSU roster also features Peachtree Ridge’s Jordan Grant, Meadowcreek’s Aaron Robinson and Shiloh’s Andre Mikell.
“The beginning of the season didn’t go well because we had to adjust to new guys, but we’ve got that down and we’ve really started coming together as a team,” said Wiedeman, who plans to teach and coach after finishing his history degree this summer.
Brookwood grad Nate Hamilton scored a career-high 24 points last weekend as GCSU defeated USC-Aiken 66-64. The sophomore made 7 of 9 shots from 3-point range. ... Hebron grad Meredith Montgomery scored 15 points Wednesday night in North Georgia’s 58-50 loss to Montevallo.
North Gwinnett grad Justin Rahm, a senior at Wesleyan, was named USA South athlete of the week this week after going 4-for-7 with seven RBIs in a season-opening, doubleheader sweep. He was 3-for-4 with four RBIs in Game 1 and 1-for-4 with three RBIs in the nightcap. ... North Georgia has received a boost from Gwinnett talent in its 6-0 start. Collins Hill grad Daniel Warzon is hitting .600, Brookwood grad Wes Coberly pitched 81⁄3 innings of seven-hit, one-run ball in last Sunday’s win over Stillman and fellow Brookwood grad Jordan Erisman also had a three-hit, four-RBI game last weekend vs. Stillman.
Providence Christian grad Jesse Meier, a junior at Birmingham Southern, pitched seven scoreless innings Tuesday in a 10-0 victory over LaGrange. In his two starts this season, Meier has a 0.82 ERA. Teammate Jon Walker, also a Providence grad, had two doubles and scored a run in Birmingham Southern’s win.
Tech’s Rudnik off to blazing start
Buford grad Alysha Rudnik, after her first weekend of college play, was named the ACC player of the week on Tuesday.
The freshman hit .588 with three doubles, a triple, a home run and five RBIs as Georgia Tech won the Dot Richardson National Collegiate Invitational.
Greater Atlanta Christian’s Jessica Coan, who transferred from Georgia Tech to North Georgia, continues to dazzle at her new school. The junior has 33 strikeouts in just 18 innings with a 0.00 ERA for the unbeaten Saints. ... Collins Hill grad Carmen Fowler went 3-for-3 with a walk and a career-best four RBIs last weekend as Southeast Missouri State’s 6-2 win over Indiana State. She finished the weekend tourney going 7-for-9 during the three-game span.
North Gwinnett’s Brianna Hesson hit two home runs last Sunday, part of a record-tying five by the Georgia softball team, in an 8-2 win over Maryland. Teammate Megan Wiggins of Shiloh had her 200th career hit the same day, making her just the sixth Bulldog to reach that milestone. ... UGA beat Lipscomb 7-4 on Sunday despite a great effort from the Bisons’ Mollie Mitchell, a Greater Atlanta Christian grad who was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs.
TRACK AND FIELD
Georgia Southern sophomore Sara Curry, a Peachtree Ridge grad, broke the school record in the 3,000-meter run last weekend at Clemson. Her time of 10 minutes, 43.74 seconds betters the old mark of 10:44.02, set in 2007. Curry also ran a season-best time in the mile at 5:19.22, the fourth-best time ever at GSU in that event. ... Brookwood grad Dani Destiche, a senior at Georgia College and State University, was named to the USTFCCCA Division II All-Academic Team this week. She maintains a 3.61 GPA in outdoor education.
Greene gets A-Sun’s weekly award
Kennesaw State’s Ben Greene, a Peachtree Ridge grad, was named the Atlantic Sun men’s golfer of the week Wednesday.
The sophomore was 4-0 in The Match Play at Tampa Bay, helping the Owls to first place. He was one of only four golfers in the 80-player field with an unbeaten record, winning his matches 4-and-3, 5-and-3, 3-and-1 and 5-and-4. Through 11 rounds this season, he has a 74.9 stroke average.
Georgia State’s Cook earns CAA honor
Georgia State freshman Thomas Cook, along with doubles partner Victor Valente, were named the Colonial Athletic Association doubles team of the week on Tuesday.
Cook, a Parkview grad, and Valente went 3-1 their first week of playing together with victories over tandems from Tennessee Tech, Chattanooga and North Georgia. Their lone loss was 8-6 to Georgia Tech’s Juan Spir and Kevin King, the nation’s eighth-ranked doubles team.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 770-339-8081.