LaFayette High School has seen many great athletes walk through its halls over the decades in a number of different sports, not the least of which is boys’ basketball.
Many standout players have made their marks while wearing the familiar orange and black. Some packed in the northwest Georgia crowds on game night and some went on to be mentioned among the best in the state at their respective positions.
Put senior guard Alex Kelehear in the latter category.
Big things were projected for Kelehear as far back as middle school when he helped lead the LaFayette Ramblers to a league title and an undefeated season as an eighth grader and he didn’t disappoint once he took the stage as a high school freshman.
A starter and leader since his high school debut, Kelehear’s prep career includes a resume of awards and honors almost too long to list and today he adds one more title as Walker County Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.
It is the third straight season that Kelehear has earned the award and he said it “feels good” to win it again. The Ramblers earned the No. 1 seed for the Region 6-AAAA tournament this past season, but an upset loss to Cinderella tournament champion Southeast Whitfield in the semifinals relegated LaFayette to the No. 3 seed for the state playoffs, where they suffered a narrow road loss to a good Marist team in the first round.
“We ended up going 25-3 overall, which was great,” Kelehear said. “Personally, I think we all had higher goals, but we ended up losing in the first round (at state). Not winning the region (tournament) championship really hurt us with the seeding in the state tournament, but we don’t feel any guilt or anything. We all went out there and played as hard as we could and did everything we could.”
As a junior, Kelehear won a boatload of awards, including Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club Co-Player of the Year, Region 6-AAAA Player of the Year and GACA All-State Co-Player of the Year for Class 4A North as LaFayette won the region tournament title for the first time in 27 years and went on to the Elite Eight of the state tournament.
This past season, he was named 6-AAAA Player of the Year again as he upped his averages to 22.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals a night. He connected on 78 3-pointers and made 86 percent of his free throws. For his career, he finished with 1,854 points, 603 rebounds, 507 assists and 221 steals to go with 265 career 3-pointers. He was an All-State selection by the GACA (first team) and the AJC (second team) and helped the Ramblers win over 90 games in the last four years.
“Last year, I was getting used to the box-and-ones and things like that,” he explained. “But this year, everybody just stepped up. We rarely saw a box-and-one this past season because we had too many guys for that. (Opposing defenses) couldn’t just focus on me because we had other guys that could just kill you.
“This year was actually probably a little easier compared to last year because we were used to it and we had everybody there.”
Kelehear showcased his game in front of college scouts with high-level travel ball in the offseason, drawing praises from basketball recruiting services and websites. The 5-foot-11 sharpshooter recently announced he would be continuing his career at NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference member Lee University in nearby Cleveland, Tenn., just about an hour from home.
“I’ve been up to Lee a couple times and I just think it’ll be the best fit for me,” he stated. “I talked it over with my parents and I think there will be some good opportunities for me there.”