VALDOSTA –– Lowndes High School will host the first-ever Coaches vs. Pros game tonight at 7 p.m. at the Crimson Coliseum.
The game will feature several former high school and college standouts from around the area that have gone on to play professionally or have since become coaches.
Former Valdosta State All-Americans Jeremiah Hill and Beau Justice will headline the list of local stars in the game as well as former Lowndes standout Eric Henderson and Valdosta standout Clarence Smith.
Lowndes head basketball coach Reshon Benjamin, who will serve as the game administrator tonight, spoke with The Times Monday morning about the event.
“Although (the Coaches vs. Pros game) was an idea, it was something that had already materialized maybe a year and a half ago,” Benjamin said. “There’s a handful of guys that me and the coaching staff have always been friends with and most of them, I’ve know them since high school. We’ve just been following each other’s careers, following each other’s paths.
“Whenever they come home in the summer, they like to have a place of solitude where they can play without a whole bunch of traffic with guys that have high level IQs. It just makes for the hoop sessions to go a lot cleaner. We’ve been doing this for about a year and a half and I thought to myself this would be a really good time to present this to the community.”
The Coaches vs Pros game will be hosted by DJ Swinn and features concessions, a door prize raffle and other giveaways. Big Nick’s and Cinnaholic will be catering the event and all proceeds from the game will go to the Lowndes High School basketball program.
The first 50 guests at the game will receive a buy one, get one free coupon for cinnamon rolls at Cinnaholic.
In search of sponsorship, Benjamin took a day and went around to local businesses such as TJ Maxx, Outback Steakhouse, Longhorn Steakhouse, Hooters, Zaxby’s, Chick-Fil-A, Five Guys and Sonny’s BBQ.
“They all opted to donate gift cards for the game,” Benjamin said. “If you’re familiar with how Valdosta State does their games, it’s going to be set up the same way –– pulling fans out of the stands to win prizes. Our principal wants to raffle off door prizes. So, from good food to good entertainment to good basketball and having a lot of good people there, I think this could be amazing.”
Kelvin Martin, a native of Adel and current forward for Happy Casa Brindisi (Italy)
Jerome Hill, a former Cook High standout, a multi-time all-conference player at Gardner-Webb University and swingman for Puente Alto (Chile)
Jarroid Johnson, former VSU basketball player and skills development trainer for the Chinese men’s basketball national team.
Tremayne Tippins, former Lowndes basketball player that currently plays in Turkey
Rob Powell, former Lowndes basketball player and plays semi-pro basketball in Oklahoma
Beau Justice, former Gulf South Conference Player of the Year at Valdosta State
“On the Pros side, there’s a couple of guys I really want to highlight and make sure the fans understand who they are,” Benjamin said. “One guy is Kelvin Martin. Some people may know him, but Kelvin, to me, is probably one of the premier athletes that’s going to be playing in this game. Kelvin’s about 6-4, 6-5 and has a LeBron James build. He’s the type of guy that can just do everything –– from playing great defense, he’s super athletic, in Italy he’s won a couple of slam dunk contests, he can shoot it. He just does everything really well. ... He’s been a pro for eight years and he’s going to be one of the fan favorites by the end of the game, i promise you because he can really, really play.
“We also have Jerome Hill, who’s also from Adel. Jerome played three years at Gardner-Webb and right now he’s still top-five in scoring and rebounding there. He’s about 6-6, maybe 6-7, nice left-handed game that I liken to James Harden.
... We also have Jeremiah Hill. If you’re familiar with VSU basketball, you have to know Jeremiah Hill. He was the Gulf South Conference Player of the Year a couple of years ago. ... It’s really good to have a guy of his caliber be able to come back, understand the purpose of the game and still be willing to play in the game.
Antonio Haynes, former head boys varsity basketball coach at Valdosta High and former point guard at Western Kentucky
Josh Sparks, a former pro player in Romania, Sweden and Finland and holds the all-time record for blocks at VSU with 246
Clarence Smith, a two-time All-State honoree under Haynes at Valdosta High School and former Region 1-6A Most Outstanding Player
Josh Pierce, head coach at Woodstock High School
Eric Henderson, former Lowndes High standout and current assistant basketball coach at the school.
Jeremiah Hill, guard for the Lakeland Magic of the NBA G-League and former GSC Player of the Year while playing at VSU
Malcolm Pollock, head basketball coach at Suwannee High School in Fla.
Admission for tonight’s game is $5. For more information, contact Reshon Benjamin at (229) 563-4696.