More often than not for a basketball team to be successful, it needs a player in the paint that can affect the game on the offensive and defensive end as well as in the rebounding department.
Sonoraville’s Bryce Waters fits that bill perfectly, and the results so far this season have shown that for the Phoenix. Waters has been a big part of the team storming out to a 14-2 record as they head into the stretch run, which already ties the school record for the boys team for most wins in a single season.
The senior is having his best statistical season so far in 2016-17 with 13.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 1.9 blocks per game, and he hopes that there are more good times ahead for his final prep season, including competing for a region title and a State Playoff run, after he missed the final few weeks of last season due to an injury.
Waters also was a part of the Phoenix football team this past Fall, which earned its fourth straight State playoff berth, and he had a big part in making that happen with an acrobatic catch in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter of Sonoraville’s Region 6-AAA Play-in game overtime win over Ringgold.
He does all that while also keeping high averages in the classroom as he looks ahead to his post-high school plans, which he hopes includes college classrooms and basketball courts.
Recently, the Calhoun Times caught up with Waters to discuss the current basketball season, how his injury last season motivated him to make the most of this year, being Sonoraville’s post presence, his final football season, memories as an athlete at Sonoraville High, the influence his coaches has had on him and other subjects.
Here’s what he had to say:
CT: How has basketball season gone so far? What are your expectations and for yourself and the team this season?
WATERS: We’ve started off pretty good this year...14-2. We tied the school record for most wins. I feel like we’ve got some good athletes on the team. We’re really good defensively. We just need to stay focused, and I think we’re going to have a great year...probably 20-plus wins, make a run for the playoffs and hopefully a region championship. For myself, I just want to be able to come out every night and be consistent. I want to be able to rebound the ball, kick it out and go.
CT: How much did being injured toward the end of last season motivate you want to make the most of every minute on the court this year?
WATERS: I think it really helped out just seeing how much the team really needs me. It made me work harder over the summer, be more dedicated and try my hardest for this team. It’s helped out this year, winning 14 games so far. I think everybody is just hungry and trying to get what we need done to beat the teams we need to beat.
CT: How much pride do you take in being Sonoraville’s main post presence in the paint and how much have you improved their over the last few seasons?
WATERS: I think I’ve really grown and learned more about defense...just sliding my feet. As a post player I’m quicker than some others so I’ve learned to be able to guard outside some, guard down low and be a threat to get block shots or steal the ball. I think I lead the team with almost three steals a game.
I just try to be a threat so nobody drives in and make them shoot over. I’m really proud of that. My teammates know I have their back, and it really helps out the whole team all around.
CT: What was your final football season like this past Fall and being a part of earning another State playoff berth?
WATERS: It was pretty fun. This year I learned to be more of a team player and help out the team however I could. I had a few good catches this year right before the State playoffs against Ringgold. I had the one to help us win that game to get in. Then going to State, we had to travel, but we really picked it up as a team. We played a really good team (Liberty County) to end the season, but I learned a lot from that and brought it onto the court for basketball...leadership-wise and toughness.
CT: What has been your favorite memory as an athlete at Sonoraville?
WATERS: Going back to my freshman year, I didn’t play football, didn’t play anything much. I got out of shape, and then basketball season came around. I was nervous because I didn’t play a lot in middle school, didn’t make the team. I started growing my freshman year, probably about 6-1 or 6-2 then. The first day of tryouts was pretty good. The second day I came in and ate a little more than I should have and puked everywhere. I was afraid I was going to get cut, but I remember Coach (Brent) Mashburn taking me under his wing and just growing as a player every year since then. That’s my main memory, him having my back and believing in me. My sophomore year was pretty big too making the State playoffs in basketball for the first time in school history. That meant a lot to us. This year we’re tied for the school record already 16 games in, and I think we have some more memories to make coming down the road.
CT: What’s it like competing in rivalry games against teams like Calhoun and Gordon Central?
WATERS: Our student section is really good. We haven’t played anyone rivalry-wise so far this year, but we’ve got Calhoun coming up next Tuesday at their place. That should be a good one. I know our students and fans we’ll go over there, and I know we’re going to play them a good game. At home, it’s always a great crowd. The gym is packed, and it’s always a great game to play in.
CT: Which one of your coaches has had the biggest influence on you and why?
WATERS: I would say Coach Mashburn. He’s been one of my only coaches, and he focuses on the good stuff. He’s really hard on me because he wants me to be a great team player and help the team like he knows I can.
CT: What are your plans for after high school?
WATERS: I’m still trying to figure it out. I want to go to college somewhere and play basketball. I want to get a good education and see what comes down the road. Right now, I’m mainly worried about basketball season and trying to win a region championship. We’ve got to beat some very good teams to get it.
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