My favorite all-time high school basketball player in Middle Georgia is Al Wood, an all-state selection at Jones County in the mid-1970s.
He was an easy pick as the first choice for my top five players from Gray and Jones County.
Al Wood is joined by his brother, Morris, Ronnie Hinson, Joe Farrar and Jarquez Smith.
Al Wood averaged 33 points and 17 rebounds as a senior. In his final three seasons with the Greyhounds, they compiled an overall record of 69-12. Jones County went 27-1 his junior year, finishing second to Southwest-Atlanta in the Class AA finals. In his final high school game, a 63-51 loss to Cass, Wood had 29 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.
Wood signed a scholarship with North Carolina, where he had a stellar career.
He led the Tar Heels in scoring in three of his four seasons and ended his career with 2,015 points, which is still fifth on the program’s all-time list.
He was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic basketball team and an All-American in 1981 while leading North Carolina to a berth in the NCAA championship game after getting 39 points and 16 rebounds in the semifinals against Virginia. His No. 30 jersey was retired by North Carolina.
Wood was a first-round draft choice by the Atlanta Hawks, the fourth overall player picked, in 1981. He played six seasons in the NBA and two more in Europe.
Morris Wood was a 6-foot-8 forward for Jones County and was a key player in its 27-1 record his senior season. He finished the year averaging 25 points and 16 rebounds per game. In the state tournament, he averaged better than 17 points and 15 rebounds. He had 33 points and 14 rebounds in a 66-62 win over Southwest during his junior season.
Wood played at Southern Miss, where he was a part-time starter as a freshman before transferring to Fort Valley State and later to Livingston (now West Alabama).
Hinson was a senior when Al Wood was a sophomore and Morris Wood was a junior. Hinson played four seasons on the Jones Country varsity, including 12 games as a freshman. He led the team in scoring his sophomore season with 19 points a game.
The 6-8 Hinson, along with the Wood brothers, led the Greyhounds to a 23-2 record his senior year when he averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Hinson starred in two wins over eventual Class AAA champion Southwest. He scored 24 points, including the clinching free throws, in a 61-58 victory over the Patriots in the final of the Tom Porter Christmas tournament and had 10 points and 11 rebounds in a 66-62 win later that season.
He played on the South team in the GACA all-star game following his senior season. Hinson signed a scholarship at Middle Tennessee State and saw considerable playing time as a freshman before suffering a knee injury his sophomore season and was never the same after that.
Farrar made the list by averaging 25 points, 14 rebounds and five assists per game his senior season for the Greyhounds. He went on to play two years at Spartanburg Methodist and helped lead the way to the Western Carolina and Region X junior college titles, averaging 19 points per game in his second season.
Farrar played his final two years at Florida State, averaging 10 points his senior season as a part-time starter. He had a 30-foot game-winning shot at the buzzer against Jacksonville that year in a 61-60 win.
The final selection is Smith, a 6-9, 225-pound power forward, who is still writing his legacy and might be the best player from Jones County since Al Wood. In his senior season in 2013, Smith averaged nearly a triple-double with 16.2 points, 12.4 rebounds and 7.5 blocked shots per game.
Smith scored 20 or more points eight times with a high of 40 against Putnam County and had nine triple-doubles and 11 double-doubles. Smith had his choice of colleges and chose Florida State, where he played in 34 of 36 games as a freshman and has been a part-time starter this year. He is averaging 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
There is nothing scientific about my picks, but long-time and now-retired Jones County head coach Eddie Dudley said I got the top five right.
There were numerous other players considered for the top five, including, James Odoms, Terry Odoms, Donald Patterson, Tommy Sellers, Dennis Woolfolk, Howard Greene, Phil Greene and James Harvey, to mention a few.
Jones County has made it to the state tournament several times but has never brought home the gold.
Contact Bobby Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org