“Player Talk” with Thomsom Alum and Former First-Rounder Vonteego Cummings
Former first-round draft pick discusses rising stars Lavonta Ivery (Thomson) and Lorenzo Johnson Jr. (Warren County); plus a look at the week ahead.
Vonteego Cummings (right) with Augusta Christian’s standout freshman Elijah Crawford.
Thomson’s rivalry game against Warren County on the day after Christmas included a courtside observer who is very special to long time fans of area basketball. Vonteego Cummings, the former Thomson (‘95) star who later excelled at Pitt, and then became a first round draft pick of the Golden State Warriors in 1999 before completing a long professional career that included three seasons in the NBA, answered questions after the game about the night’s two brightest stars. Vonteego, a dear friend, also touched on the history of the rivalry between Thomson and Warren County, and the intertwined backgrounds and relationships between the players and fans from both sides.
First we discussed Thomson freshman Lavonta Ivery, who led all scorers with 19 points, including 16 in the second half when the Bulldogs struggled to fend off a constantly surging Devils squad. A particular aspect of Ivery’s game, his ability to blow by defenders off a live dribble going right and left, combined with his size (6-2), reminds me of a young Vonteego, circa 1991, when “Man-Man”’ started to become a household nickname around these basketball parts.
As you can see in the video below, Vonteego praised Ivery, whom he first met when Lavonta was in elementary school, and whose family Cummings commended. And it turns out a member of Ivery’s extended family is Warren County’s star from the evening, Lorenzo Johnson Jr., who scored 16 points, including 4 three pointers, to lead the victorious Devils to a rare, and maybe first ever, road win in the history of the series. Cummings trains Johnson in his “VC5” venture, and Vonteego called Johnson, a junior, a potential future Division I player.
Saturday’s rivalry game at the Dog Pound provided a red hot start to the post Christmas week of holiday high school hoops. The enthusiasm surrounding the result jumped off the screen (read in Full Game Report) from Warren County head coach Uriah Myrick’s quotes when he lobbied for the respect his alma mater deserves for its athletic resume. Little did Myrick know that even before he made those comments, Cummings had tipped his cap to his school’s long time foe:
“Warrenton’s our rival, and we usually come out on top,” Cummings explained minutes after the Devils’ dramatic win. “But this is one of the years they have a pretty good team. So they came out on top. So we respect that.”
And fewer than twelve hours later, Kyle Sandy, who provides a weekly statewide ranking of Georgia’s teams by classification at Sandysspiel.com, also gave the Devils a nod by placing Warren County (4-1) in the top 10 of Class 1A Public for the first time this season.
Bringing in the New Year
After Saturday’s fiery start, this week in high school basketball has the ingredients to make for a fun launching off point for 2021’s journey. Here’s a quick tour of what we have in our sights as of Monday morning:
AugBball and Zone706 will report from Hart County Monday afternoon when Lincoln County takes on Loganville in the quarterfinals of a three day tournament. The Red Devils will be tested after splitting a pair of games last week, and before tipping off region play at home Saturday against #10 Warren County.
On Monday evening we’ll also provide full coverage of Burke County’s Gentlemen’s Classic matchup against Columbia (Atlanta) at Statesboro High School. Other games we’ll track from afar on Monday will be Jefferson County’s neutral site (Vidalia High) game against ECI and Cross Creek’s high powered showdown against Cumberland Christian at Wheeler High.
Lincoln County, Burke County and Jefferson County will continue parts 2 and 3 of their tournament affairs Tuesday and Wednesday. And starting Wednesday, there will be plenty of interesting individual matchups to track. Aquinas will host Hephzibah Wednesday, and Franklin Prep will come to Richmond the same day. Friday’s lone game will see Grovetown matching up against Creekside Christian in Atlanta. Grovetown will stay overnight to face nationally ranked Pebblebrook Saturday on the same day that several interesting matchups will take place, including Evans-Butler, North Augusta-Laney, Lincoln County-Warren County and Thomson-Aiken.
[Livestream] Grovetown vs Evans in Region Battle for Playoff Position
Evans hosts Grovetown and looks to avenge their buzzer beater loss to the Warriors on January 22nd.
“Sophomore Malik Ferguson picked up a loose ball in the middle of the paint with one second remaining, and right before the fourth quarter buzzer sounded, he released a shot that found its mark to give Grovetown 61-60 win over Evans Friday, a result that threw the top spot in the class 6A, region 5 standings into a three way tie between Grovetown, Evans and Heritage to mark the beginning of the stretch run for the league’s regular season championship. Ferguson’s shot came at the end of a full court dash by Grovetown after head coach Darren Douglas was able to draw up a play during a timeout that was meant to result in a bucket in only six seconds. The play was designed for senior Zach Bell, who eventually fumbled the ball after spinning between defenders at the end of a drive that began near half court after he gathered the ball from freshman Derrion Reid.”
That was Chad Cook’s rundown of the instant classic that these two teams played two weeks ago. That win by Grovetown sets up a must-win scenario for Evans as they look to maintain their footing in the race for a region championship.
Be sure to get your ? ready early because if tonight’s game is as exciting as the last one, you just might forget those jokers altogether!
Streams will be posted here. Tip-off times are as follows:
Girls – 6:30 PM
Boys – 8:00 PM