“This is the most kids for basketball we had sign in one year,” Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman said. “You can’t ask for anything else. It’s a tribute to how hard they worked and how hard we worked in our program to get them ready to play on the next level. I’m just proud of them.”
From this season’s 23-6 squad, Chukwudubem “Doobie” Okeke will play at Winthrop University next fall, Patrick Petty at Paine College, Daniel Peace at Waycross, Casey Wells at Georgia Perimeter and John Walker at Brewton-Parker.
“The team had a lot of morale and chemistry,” said Peace, who averaged nearly five rebounds, four assists and four steals last season. “The coach was just like coach Maehlman—defense oriented. Also very close to the players and that really impressed me.”
“The coaching staff is pretty much how Maehlman coaches so I will fit right in with their system,” said Petty, who averaged a team-leading 14 points a game last season. “They take pride in defense too. I’m a defensive player and my defense translates into offense.”
Along with the help of Cameron Sutton, who will play football at Tennessee, this group of seniors experienced two Final Fours and fell short to Eagles Landing, the 2012-13 Class AAAA champions, in two classic overtime games this season.
“We accomplished a lot of goals and set the bar pretty high for the classes after us and most importantly we made a bond,” said Peace, who will major in business administration.
Another impressive thing about the Cardinals is how they made up for their lack of size with stifling defense and maximum effort, which recruiters noticed as well.
“After the first hour of play, the college guys said your kids were out there really playing,” Maehlman said.
“This is the hardest workout we’ve ever seen. Usually when we watch kids play they just go through the motions but your kids are getting after it.”
Peace and Petty also talked about making the weight room more of a priority this summer.
“When I went [to Waycross] and worked out [the guys] were bumping me around,” Peace said. “I realized I really got to get stronger.”
“I have to get stronger,” Petty said. “The game is way more physical in college.”