Posted On: 02/19/17 8:18 AM

The 2017 class of the Columbia and greater metro area is one of the best of all-time for the state capital. Some great players have come through the playgrounds and gyms of Columbia, South Carolina.

In the late 90’s Jermaine O’Neal honed his game at Eau Claire High School before jumping to the NBA Draft.  In the 70’s Alex English played at Dreher High School before going to South Carolina and then the NBA. In the 80’s, Xavier McDaniel graduated from AC Flora High School before a standout career at Wichita State and being drafted 4th overall in the 1985 NBA Draft. In 1995 BJ McKie played at Irmo High School and later at South Carolina where he is the all-time leading scorer in school history.

Basketball has a rich tradition in Columbia and this year’s graduating class of 2017 recruits is the deepest overall class from the area ever.

Ja Morant

Ja Morant-The high scoring point guard at Crestwood High School will play next season at Murray State. He is ranked as the 5th best prospect by PrepHoopsSC. Led Crestwood HS with 35 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds  in loss to AC Flora last night. His season came to an end tonight but Morant had this to say about Columbia area talent, “It’s an honor to play D1 basketball period but to say it’s 7 or 8 from Columbia is big . Most don’t make it out but these did.”

Jordan Davis-After a great career at Dutch Fork High School, Davis will play next season at Dayton. He is ranked as the #4 senior in the class.

Tariq Simmons-Has helped lead Keenan High School into the third round of the SCHSL playoffs and will play next season at The Citadel. Simmons is ranked 6th best senior in South Carolina. This class means a lot to Simmons, here is what he said. “It means everything to me because people from other states really think we can’t ball down here, we all try to prove them that we’re just as good as them, if not better…..and yes sir most of us are in the big group chat and we talk everyday, Clyde Trapp, Ja’cor Nelson, James Reese, Josh Caldwell, Christian Brown, Christiaan Jones, Keith Matthews, Alex Caldwell and some others.”

Clyde Trapp Jr.-The Clemson signee is a scorer at Lower Richland High School. He is ranked as the 7th best player in South Carolina for 2017.

Buffalo signee James Reese

James Reese-Buffalo is getting one of the best scorers in the area with Reese. The #11 ranked senior in the class scored 38 points tonight for AC Flora High School to advance to 3rd round. Reese had this to say about the talent in Columbia, “It means most of us worked very hard to become the top players in the state and it shows we have a lot of fight, heart, and motivation. I’m close with most of the other top players in Columbia and I know we all show true motivation.”

JaCor Nelson-The Lower Richland product and Campbell signee is one of the most exciting players in Columbia. He is ranked at #14 in the class.  “A lot of guys from around here put in so much work , that we deserve this. we all were and still are hungry. I pretty cool with most hoopers in the area, we all have some kind of bond outside of basketball too.”

Devontae Shuler-Shuler played most of his high school career at Irmo High School before heading to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. He will play in college at Ole Miss.

Josh Caldwell-Ranked #23 in the senior class. The 6-foot-1 guard is headed to Army next season.

Kaiden Rice

Kaiden Rice-The Citadel signee is ranked as the #24th best player in the class and has helped lead Ridge View High School into the 3rd round of the SCHSL playoffs.

Keith Matthews-The Stetson signee is ranked as the #19 prospect in the class. “Most definitely and most of us are all really close a lot of us are all in this group chat and we talk to each other on a daily basis,” regarding if he feels like this group from Columbia is a special one.

Christiaan Jones-The 6-foot-4 shooting guard is heading to Stetson University next season and is ranked as the #21 player in the state. Jones had this to say about this class, ” Its pretty cool to be apart of a class this deep especially in Columbia where I’m from. I’m close with a lot of the other top guys in this class, we’ve grown up playing each other in aau and rec leagues. We even have a group message where we talk daily with about 20 guys from Columbia and we play pickup together sometimes and its cool to just have that relationship with guys of that caliber.”