By Morgan Bryce
Five Opelika High School senior boys and girls basketball players have been selected to participate in Friday’s Georgia-Alabama All Star Game at the Columbus Civic Center.
Presented by Hot100 FM, a Columbus-based hip hop and R&B station, the second annual event will showcase the area’s best players competing in exhibition games, three-point shootouts, dunk contests and more.
The game will be played at the Columbus Civic Center Friday night, with the underclass girls game beginning at 5 p.m. Tickets, which can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, are $12.50 in advance and $15 at the door.
Following is a list of information about Opelika’s selections:
Height: 5 foot 10 inches
College: Uncommitted, leaning toward Lawson State Community College in Birmingham
A two-sport athlete, Browning said she is proud of the continued success of the Lady Bulldog basketball program, which has won six-straight area titles and made its first-ever appearance in the Final Four last season.
“When I got the notification on my phone that I’d been selected for the all-star game, I told my grandma that, and she was so proud. She was smiling ear to ear,” Browning said. “This is a great feeling.”
Height: 6 feet
Green’s clutch three-point play against Hillcrest in the region championship game helped the Lady Bulldogs extend their lead to six with 2:06 remaining. The girls would win and move on to the Final Four in Birmingham.
“I hope that we prove to future Opelika girls teams that it’s possible for an underdog to do the impossible, whether it’s a Final Four (or all-star game selection),” Green said.
Height: 6 feet 1 inch
College: Uncommitted, receiving interest from Georgia Southwestern, Jacksonville State, Murray State, Tulane and West Florida
A three-sport athlete, Heard said he will continue playing basketball at the collegiate level. A multi-year starter for Coach John Wadsworth’s basketball teams, Heard described himself as their motor and spiritual leader.
“First off, I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to play my last senior game in a uniform for a sport that a lot of people can’t have longevity in. It feels great knowing that I’ll be playing for the town and the community,” Heard said. “There are going to be a lot of people supporting us, and I’m thankful for that.”
Height: 5 feet 8 inches
Position: Point guard
College: Uncommitted, leaning toward Pensacola Junior College
Payne reached 1,000 career points this season. Opelika Coach Devin Booth said Payne was a key piece to her 2017-18 squad that finished with 23 wins.
“(I was proud of) how hard we worked, and after bad games that we lost, how we never gave up,” Payne said.
Height: 5 feet 6 inches
Position: Shooting guard
College: Uncommitted, has received an offer from Gulf Shores Prep
Pitts was a key contributor in helping the boys rebound from a two-win season in 2016. Counted by many as the team leader, he said he sees the game as both a chance for college scouts to see his talents shine and opportunity to represent his hometown.
“For me, it’s really big. I’m lost for words, there’s really no other way to describe it,” Pitts said. “Every time I talk about it, I can’t help it, I just start smiling.”