Porter-Gaud’s Josiah James and Goose Creek’s Shayla Nelson, The Post and Courier's All-Lowcountry high school basketball players of the year, do their work on the hardwood in dramatically different ways.
James, one of the nation’s top senior prospects, provided highlight reel dunks on his way to averaging 29.1 points and 12.4 rebounds per game this season for the Cyclones.
Nelson was a driving force in Goose Creek’s Class AAAAA state championship run, though her statistics were far less gaudy at 12.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest.
But both players were at their best in the biggest games, and leave their respective programs as elite players in school history.
James was the rock star of Lowcountry prep basketball this season. After serving mostly as a facilitator in his previous years, James put all of his prowess on display this season.
The 6-7 combo guard added 5.3 blocks and 4.9 assists to his scoring and rebounding totals, and it could have been more. He sat out the fourth quarter in many games this season, but did play long enough in one game to set the school record of 47 points, breaking the record of his brother, KJ James.
Josiah James was named the SC Gatorade player of the year and will compete in the McDonald’s All-American game on March 27 with the nation’s top 24 senior players. It is an honor bestowed only one other time to a Lowcountry player (Pinewood Prep's Milton Jennings in 2009), putting James on the list of the best to play in the area.
He is a consensus top 20 player in America and has signed to play with Tennessee and coach Rick Barnes beginning in the fall. James helped guide Porter-Gaud to three consecutive SCISA Class AAA state championships before coming up short in the state semi-finals this season.
Accolades and honors are surely nice to receive, but James insists it is not why he plays the game.
“I love the game and because I have worked so hard to be a complete player, I have been able to experience so many great things,” said James, who also is a member of the USA 18U national team. “I still wake up everyday looking to improve on something. That has been my mindset since I started playing this game as a little kid.”
Nelson does her work on the hardwood with far less fanfare and notoriety than James. Her senior season statistics are right in line with her production over her entire five-year starting career.
Nelson, who played in 119 games from eighth grade to her senior year, averaged 11.4 and 6.3 rebounds over than span. She capped her career with 1,356 points and 755 career rebounds. More importantly, she played a vital role in Goose Creek winning two state titles in the last three years.
While Nelson was certainly capable of scoring points when needed, her versatility as a defender and rebounder made her a key cog in Goose Creek’s success. She scored six points in the state championship win over Spring Valley but pulled down 17 rebounds and added three blocks.
“I worked hard to be a complete player, not just a scorer,” Nelson said. “I know I can score. I wanted to focus on defense and doing other things to help us win a championship.”
One of her three made shots in the title game came as Goose Creek was coming back from a nine-point deficit late. Nelson pulled up and drilled an 18-footer in the final two minutes of the 52-51 win.
“She does whatever we need,” Goose Creek coach Tim Baldwin said. “She does things out there that people don’t notice or see but she is working her tail off. That shot she hit in the championship game is the shot she will take in college and knock down consistently.”
Nelson nearly missed her senior year and second state title at Goose Creek. As a member of a military family, Nelson moved to Virginia after her junior year. By September, she was back in Goose Creek.
“The move to Virginia was good for me in terms of my AAU season but I really wanted to be back home for my senior year,” Nelson said. “I wanted to be with my teammates and try to win a championship. Fortunately it worked out that we got transferred back to this area.”
Nelson has yet to sign scholarship papers and is weighing offers from George Mason, Norfolk State and William & Mary.
Berkeley’s Joseph Wallace is the Lowcountry boys coach of the year after taking the Stags to their first-ever state championship game. Berkeley lost to Dorman in the final but posted a 26-2 record this season.
Goose Creek’s Baldwin and Bishop England’s Paul Runey share the honor as girls coach of the year. Baldwin led Goose Creek to the Class AAAAA state championship, their second in three years, while Runey’s Bishops won the Class AAA state title, the program’s sixth title in the last eight years.
2018-19 All-Lowcountry Basketball
F Shayla Nelson, 5-11, Sr., Goose Creek
G Aniyah Oliver, 5-3, Jr., Goose Creek
G Augusta Dixon, 5-8, Jr., James Island
G-F Katie Brooks, 6-0, Sr., Bishop England
C Angel Middleton, 6-6, Sr., First Baptist
G Aujea Bowman, 5-8, So., Fort Dorchester
C-F Anaze Ravenell, 5-10, Sr., West Ashley
G Tyashia Bostick, 5-9, Sr., Northwood Academy
Elise Pearson, Porter-Gaud, Jr.; Elizabeth Eads, Wando, Jr.; Ciera Shivers, Goose Creek, Sr.; Ashley Bryan, Academic Magnet, Sr.; Shadea Kelly, Burke, Sr.; Rykia Jakes, Military Magnet, 8th grade; Ca’Vashia Johnson, North Charleston, Sr.; Josie Dennis, Bishop England, Sr.
Carrington Simpson, Northwood; Jayla Evans, Timberland; Janiah Washington, Woodland; Breyon Forrest, Military Magnet; Jasmine Stanley, Goose Creek; Shatyra Moree, Cross; Katie Cullum, Bishop England; Kelly Drummond, Bishop England; Alexia Grant, Charleston Charter; D’Kerra Middleton, Berkeley; LeeToria Dorsey, Berkeley; Shanece Mitchell, Stall; Au’Zhane Allard, Fort Dorchester.
Omari Kirkland, Colleton County; Qwanajah Johnson, Burke; Katelyn Howard, Palmetto Christian; Lauren Pernell, Palmetto Christian; Mia Wysong, Cathedral; La’Royalty Jones, Northwood; Kylee Kellerman, Philip Simmons; Kennedy Rivers, Philip Simmons; Sophia Simmons, North Charleston; Madi Douglas, Cathedral; Vanessa Blake, Ashley Ridge.
Lilly Massey, Faith Christian; Carya Manick, Summerville; Kylie Sims, Summerville; Daryan Bryant, Pinewood Prep; Emma Robertson, Pinewood Prep; Mary Gracy Robertson, Pinewood Prep.
Coaches of the Year: Tim Baldwin, Goose Creek; Paul Runey, Bishop England.
G Josiah James, 6-6, Sr., Porter-Gaud
G Kenyatta Jenkins, 5-10, Sr., West Ashley
F Ishan White, 6-6, Sr., Berkeley
G Shane McCravy, 6-4, Sr., Oceanside Collegiate
G Darjawuan Brown, 6-0, Jr., North Charleston
G Michel Dukes, 5-11, Sr., First Baptist
G Michael Shuler, 5-9, So., Woodland
F Bailey Encalade, 6-5, Sr., Colleton County
Jalin Williams, Ashley Ridge, Sr.; Trevur Smalls, Berkeley, Sr.; Jalen Bailey, Stall, Sr.; Antoine Parker, Fort Dorchester, Jr.; Wendell Seabrook, Charleston Charter, Sr.; Donnell Bowens, Lowcountry Leadership, Sr.; Devin Ramsey, West Ashley, Sr.; Lawton Davis, James Island, Sr.
Devin Dean, First Baptist; Joseph Powell, First Baptist; Bailey Wiseman, James Island; DQ Vinson, James Island; Travelle Simmons, Goose Creek; Jamel McGowan, Goose Creek; Isaiah Archie, Oceanside Collegiate; Logan Ammons, Hanahan; Jamal Edmonson, Ashley Ridge; Kendal Chakeris, Palmetto Christian.
Tristan Freeling, Wando; Maliek Brown, Wando; DJ Chisolm, Berkeley; Marquez Terry, North Charleston; Harry Seabrook, North Charleston; Romello Grant, Stall; Cohen Gaskins, Pinewood Prep; Jay Pryor, Pinewood Prep; Heston Foster, Cathedral; Jaylen Green, Philip Simmons; Levi Watts, Faith Christian.
Steven Britton, Lowcountry Leadership; Aidan McCool, Bishop England; Ben Diffley, Pinewood Prep; Mason Grant, Fort Dorchester; Sam Crowley, Oceanside Collegiate; Rene’ Kravanja, Charleston Charter; Jordan Bailey, Baptist Hill; Ty Richardson, St. John’s; Steven White, Burke.
Coach of the Year: Joseph Wallace, Berkeley.