The Lowcountry has been blessed with its share of great two-sport athletes. Summerville's A.J. Green and Macedonia's Joe Hamilton come to mind. They were as good on the basketball court as they were on the football field.
But has the Lowcountry seen two athletes as good or as dominant at the same time as Berkeley High's Bruce Ellington and Burke High's Del'Javon Simmons?
Ellington and Simmons are once-in-a-lifetime athletes at their respective schools. Teammates, fans and opponents alike will be talking about their exploits for years to come. Despite a prolific football career, Ellington will play basketball at South Carolina next year. Simmons will play football at The Citadel, although he could play basketball and baseball for the Bulldogs as well before his college career is done.
During the summer, Ellington and Simmons compete against each other on the AAU basketball circuit. They had some epic battles against each other last summer at The Citadel's team camp. Although relentless competitors, Simmons and Ellington remain good friends off the field and off the court.
"Bruce is a great guy and a great athlete," Simmons said. "We played on the same team and I'd always have to tell Bruce to shoot the ball. I think we bring out the best in each other when we're playing on the same team or playing against each other."
So, who's the best two-sport athlete: Ellington or Simmons?
Post and Courier high school sports writer Phil Bowman picked Ellington as the All-Lowcountry male athlete of the year.
Both have impressive resumes to be sure, but we'll let you be the judge:
Ellington had a knack for the heroics, playing his best on the biggest stages. He rushed for 230 yards, threw for 84 more yards, and scored four TDs, including the game-winner in OT, in the Division II-AAAA Lower State final against Goose Creek.
He might have saved his best for last, leading Berkeley to the school's fifth state title in football back in December. He rallied the Stags to victory with two jaw-dropping runs in the fourth quarter. He finished with 191 yards and four TDs in a 33-24 victory over Northwestern.
"He's one of the top five all-time football players in South Carolina history," said Berkeley football coach Jerry Brown. "I don't think I've ever seen someone take over like Bruce does when the game is on the line."
Ellington finished his senior season with 2,191 rushing yards and 32 TDs. He also threw for nearly 700 yards in the Stags' flex-bone attack.
On the court, Ellington averaged more than 20 points and five assists a game in leading the Stags to the playoffs. In his final game against Lexington, Ellington poured in 33 points and handed out six assists.
Simmons, whose nickname around Burke is "Ralph," has the "it" factor that makes him hard to ignore.
"He's a natural leader and has a personality that you're just drawn to," said former Citadel basketball coach Ed Conroy. "He's very charismatic and someone that other kids just want to follow."
Simmons led Burke to two Class AA state title appearances in three years in basketball, and led the Bulldogs to their first region title in football since 1968.
A two-time region player of the year in football, Simmons compiled 6,592 yards of total offense during his final two seasons. He rolled up 3,152 yards of total offense as a senior. He threw for 2,111 yards and 40 TDs, while rushing for 1,041 yards.
In a 60-20 playoff win over Wade Hampton, Simmons had 432 yards of total offense (276 passing, 156 rushing), while accounting for seven TDs (six passing, one rushing).
Simmons averaged 16 points and six assists on the basketball court and led the Bulldogs to the Class AA state title game.
Not bad for a guy whose best sport might be baseball. As a kid, Simmons worked out with the likes of B.J. Upton when the Tampa Bay Rays shortstop was playing for the RiverDogs.
"I think it if was left up to Del'Javon, he'd probably play baseball," said Burke athletic director Earl Brown.