BASKETBALL: Waters ready to make a splash with Georgia Northwestern

On hand to see Sonoraville’s Bryce Waters (seated, center) sign on to play basketball with Georgia Northwestern were Lisa Waters and Brinton Silvers. On the back row are Georgia Northwestern head coach David Stephenson, Ray Waters, Sonoraville head coach Brent Mashburn and Sonoraville assistant coach Chris Perry. (Messenger photo/Scott Herpst)

This past season, the Sonoraville Phoenix had one of the biggest single-season turnarounds of any team in the state of Georgia.

The Red-and-Black went 22-8 and finished runner-up to neighboring Calhoun for the Region 6-AAA championship, just one season after an 11-13 campaign.

One of the big reasons for the improvement was 6-foot-5 post player Bryce Waters, who averaged 13 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals on the season.

Now, the All-Region selection will try and help engineer a similar turnaround with the Georgia Northwestern Bobcats.

“It feels great,” Waters said as he signed his papers to play for the Navy-and-Silver. “(Playing college basketball) has always been a dream. I can’t wait to play for Coach (David) Stephenson and with all the other guys in the community that are going to be playing there. I think we’re going to have a good team this year.”

Sonoraville head coach Brent Mashburn said the Bobcats were getting a versatile player.

“He’s been a good player for us here for the past several years,” Mashburn said. “He has size, but he can also step out and play on the perimeter and that gives him an aspect to the game where it makes him hard to guard.

“He’s an emotional kid, who plays with a lot of energy and passion and I think he’ll bring a lot to the table.”

Stephenson said he was thrilled to have another big body that could play in the paint.

“Bryce not only has size, but he has mobile size and tough, able-to-bang and play-really-gritty size. It hurt when we lost Andrew Johnson last year, who was one of our true bangers inside, so this is a big pick-up. I think with Bryce and (Coahulla Creek’s) Tyler (Phillips), that’s two big pieces inside that we can build around for the next couple of years.”

Stephenson said he can envision Waters and the 6-foot-4 Phillips on the floor at the same time, along with new signee Tristen Bennett (6-5) from LFO and returning Bobcat Micah Wheeler (6-7).

“What we’re getting with Bryce and Tyler is that we can bring them out some on the perimeter, because we also have Tristen and Micah that are predominantly post players that we can keep down low,” he added. “We’d like one more big, but we’re pretty happy with the four we’ve got.”

Waters said he is ready to help send the Bobcats to a new level in the USCAA.

“I really like that (Georgia Northwestern) it’s a community school,” he said. “Everyone around here is together. I’m looking forward to getting in at least two years of school in and showing everyone how good of a team we can have.”

Waters plans to major in Business.