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High school basketball: A.L. Brown boys will be tough

Boys basketball preview: A.L. Brown Wonders

Wayne Hinshaw FILE PHOTO / FOR THE Salisbury Post … A.L. Brown’s Kheni Briggs (5) guards East Rowan’s David Jordan (21) during a game last November. Briggs, just a sophomore, returns as one of the Wonders’ leaders this season.

A.L. BROWN BOYS

Coach: Shelwyn Klutz (23rd season, 282-254)

2018-19: 21-8 overall, 6-4 3A South Piedmont Conference (2nd place)

Playoffs: Lost 3rd round to Freedom

Final MaxPreps ranking: 14th in 3A; No. 69 in state out of 625

Returning starters: Sophomore Kheni Briggs, senior Amari Grier

Key losses: Amare Haynie, Elijah Isom

Key addition: Transfer Mi’Keim Moore

•••

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

KANNAPOLIS —  The loss of leading scorer Amare Haynie, who transferred to Moravian Prep after last season, hurt, but A.L. Brown’s boys may be very strong again.

“We wish Amare the best, he’s a great player,” said Shelwyn Klutz, who will be guiding the Wonders for the 23rd season. “And you never know what’s going to happen. We got a transfer (former Mount Pleasant standout Mi’Keim Moore) ourselves. He took a lot of the sting out of losing Amare.”

The Wonders have two exceptional returners in senior Amari Grier and sensational sophomore Kheni Briggs. Both made the All-South Piedmont Conference team  last season.

As a varsity freshman, the 6-foot-3 Briggs scored 20-plus points seven times. He averaged 15.2 points for the season and bumped that to 19 points per game in the playoffs.

“He can create his own shot and he can shoot it, but he’s also strong and tough (205 pounds) and he can get to the basket,” Klutz said. “He has some work to do on his defense like a lot of guys do, but he’s big-time.”

The 5-10 Grier is dependable. He averaged right at 10 points per game last season, while also supplying five rebounds and five assists on an average night.

“He’s a veteran, he’s high-energy and he gives us a lot of leadership and production,” Klutz said.

JD Glenn, a 6-6 senior, gives the Wonders some size. He played quite a bit last season and started some games. He doesn’t have much bulk, but he averaged 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. Klutz expects him to boost those numbers.

Nick Colson, who played on North Rowan’s varsity as a freshman, is now a junior. He had one huge game for the Wonders last season, scoring 27 points in a Christmas tournament triumph  against Mallard Creek.  He’s 6-3 and talented and Klutz expects him to be a more consistent factor this season.

Dujon Eccles, a 6-2 senior, is the program’s most improved player. While he only played in four varsity games as a junior, he’s being counted on for big minutes this season.

Marcus Chapman will be an energy guy off the bench. DQ Foggie is a solid defender. Ethan McCoy can provide some shooting. CJ Wilson, a sophomore point guard, has a bright future and will help some this season. Freshman Milyan Smith-Walker (6-3,228) could also be ready to  get varsity minutes.

Then there’s Moore, a 6-foot combo guard who will be an impact player. He had 10 assists in the opening-night victory against Carson and 12 points in a road win at Mooresville in A.L. Brown’s second game.

“Moore has been a great addition,” Klutz said. “He’s a team guy and he’s pass-first, so he’s fit right in with this team. Everyone likes that guy who’s passing them the ball.”

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