Today, AllOnGeorgia releases the fourth installment of “You Tell Me, MP” featuring legendary Glynn County-based sports writer Murray Poole. In this weekly summer series, current AOG writer Kevin Price will ask Poole a series of questions and the longtime Brunswick News sports editor and 2016 Glynn County Sports Hall of Fame inductee will answer them. Price’s goal is to capture the opinions, thoughts and especially the memories that Poole has from yesteryear in local athletics. This week, the county’s unoffficial sports historian answers questions related to local prep basketball.
Murray, last week you answered questions about a lot of the characters you have encountered while working in Glynn County. Two coaches we also could have discussed are former Brunswick basketball coach Charlie Frazier and former Glynn Academy coach Theresa Adams. Watching those two work the sidelines was worth the price of admission, right?
Charlie Frazier and Theresa Adams certainly could have been included in the Glynn County sports “characters” I discussed last week. Frazier, who was a very successful coach of the Brunswick High boys basketball team in the 1980s, was a bit of a showman on the Pirates’ bench while at the same time imparting strict discipline to his BHS players. Charlie had a booming voice that no doubt brought fear into his players, especially if they did something to evoke his criticism.
When a player one game wasn’t rebounding the ball to Frazier’s satisfaction, I remember Charlie getting right in that Pirate’s face and screaming, “Boy, you better get up and you better jump!” Needless to say, that Brunswick player then really started getting on the backboards. But again, there was the showman angle to Charlie Frazier. Sitting at the scorer’s table for each game, I could hear about everything he said to the officials and also to his assistant coach at the time, O.C. Baker.
One night, when the Pirates weren’t playing to their usual standard, Charlie Frazier had about had enough. He got up from his chair, threw his arms up in frustration and asked O.C., “Coach, where did we find these guys?” Meaning, at that particular moment, the Pirates were looking like anything but basketball players.
And the long-time Glynn Academy girls head basketball coach, Theresa Adams, was also quite a show on the gym sidelines. Unlike Charlie Frazier, she seldom went into a controlled frenzy but all the Lady Terrors’ coach had to do to melt down an erratic player was to stare the girl down. But oh, Adams, who’s now in the Glynn County Sports Hall of Fame, could vocally dress down the referees and her own players with the best of them.
However, when Theresa was simply sitting in her chair during the course of the game and making comments on the contest’s flow, was when I heard some of her most witty declarations. Talking about one of her players not playing well, she would say, “That girl don’t even know where she’s at tonight.” And, “that girl can’t walk and chew chewing gum at the same time.” Or, when asked about the potential of a certain Lady Terror …. “That girl can’t even find her way to the gym.”
But, know this, Theresa Adams was one of the all-time best girls basketball coaches in the state of Georgia who commanded her team with strict discipline and had the ultimate respect of every single Lady Terror on the team.
Murray, you covered Risley High basketball in your early years at the Brunswick News. Did the Tigers really pack the gym when they played at home?
Prior to being integrated into Brunswick High and Glynn Academy in 1970, the Risley Tigers drew great local support from their fans and the community as a whole. Well before I arrived in Brunswick, back in 1950 and 1957, Risley won state GIA football championships and also captured state basketball championships in 1951 and 1955.
Then in the winter of 1969, I was privileged to cover the Tigers winning the GIA state basketball championship in the old Glynn County Gym, which would evolve into the Glynn Middle School gymnasium. It was tremendous excitement and packed houses each night of the tournament as Coach Clyde Williams’ team turned back all comers, led by All-County Tiger players Welbourne Smith, Rayfield Barneman, Joe Brown and Bracie Adams. Ronald Mells was the other starter on the state champs and sparkplug guard Herman Poole gave the Tigers a lift off the bench.
But Risley High was a very proud high school with tremendous athletes and those athletes would contribute greatly to the success of the Brunswick High and Glynn Academy programs in the early 1970s.
MP, one of Glynn Academy’s all-time great players, Willie “Pie” Fisher, passed away a few months back. He could really fill up the basket, couldn’t he?
Willie Fisher and Brad Butler were the greatest shooting basketball guards I witnessed in all my years of covering the Glynn Academy Red Terrors. Fisher, with his quickness to drive to the basket and ability to bomb 25 footers from downtown, was simply unstoppable in his years on the Terror hardwood … as evidenced by his still school scoring record of 29-plus points a game.
Pretty sure, like Butler, Willie “Pie” once hit for 50 points in a game and what you have to remember is that Fisher and Butler, who follows Fisher in the Glynn single-season scoring book with his 27-plus average, played before the advent of the 3-point goal in high school ball.
So the way they could hit consistently from long range, those averages would likely equate to 36 to 38 points a game today. Because of what he did on the basketball court, Willie Fisher certainly didn’t take a back seat to his older brother, Glynn football star Randy Fisher, and it was certainly sad to hear of his recent passing.
You obviously covered the prep career of Kwame Brown at Glynn Academy. That performance he put on in Glynn’s semifinal game against eventual state champion Berkmar was one to see wasn’t it?
I will never forget that 2001 night in the Macon Coliseum when Dan Moore’s Red Terrors were trying to dispose of a very good Berkmar team and thus advance to the AAAAA state championship game. Of course, as we all know, the Terrors couldn’t quite get it done that evening but the performance the 6-11 Brown staged in defeat was something to behold.
Kwame was indeed unstoppable as he went for 38 points and 20 rebounds and also blocked 15 shots. Despite being collapsed upon inside, he continually got to the basket for dunks or layups. He hit the 10 to 12-foot jumper consistently and one time he came down court like a guard handling the ball and buried a “3” from well beyond the top of the key.
I told someone at that moment at the press table, “He’s the best high school player in the country!” And I think my statement was pretty well verified when Kwame Brown became the first high school player to be taken No. 1 in the NBA draft, by then Michael Jordan’s Washington Wizards.
MP, both of us have asked “dumb” questions to coaches during our time. And speaking of “dumb” questions, I know you remember that time you and I were in the Glynn locker room talking to Coach Dan Moore when a certain reporter asked him if he really thought he had a chance to beat Camden County, and this is when he had Kwame and a good team, otherwise. We all chuckled, but Coach Moore was almost speechless for the first time ever, wasn’t he?
Yes, that reporter asked that question that night after the Red Terrors’ game at Camden County, which the Terrors won after a pretty tough battle with the Wildcats. When he asked it, I do know Coach Moore was speechless for a few seconds and I know I had to turn my head to keep from laughing out loud.
Most times down through the years this would have been a legitimate question, but it was hardly a question to ask a coach who coached one of the top two or three teams in the state of Georgia, had one of the nation’s top recruited players in Kwame Brown and four other starters in Alfred Smith, Jeff Baker, Bryan Hendley and Patrick Kenty who were also superb basketball players.
“Did you think you had a chance to beat Camden County?” Well, yeah! That question should have been put to the Camden coach … did he think he had a chance of upsetting this powerful Glynn Academy team? I think I remember, to Dan Moore’s credit, after he wiped the astonishment off his face, he answered the reporter’s absurd question as politely as he could.
Murray, in the first Q and A we did you fielded a question regarding the best prep baseball player you’d ever covered who wasn’t playing for one of the home teams. So, can you tell us the best high school basketball player you ever covered who didn’t play for a local team?
Like the baseball question, this is also a difficult one due to the fact I saw so many great players come to the Glynn Academy and Brunswick High gyms to confront the Terrors and Pirates. But for this answer I go back to the late 1960s, a period of time when Savannah schools sported the best prep basketball teams I’ve ever seen… Especially those Beach High teams that trampled all the other teams en route to state championships.
Larry “Gator” Rivers was a stupendous guard for the Beach Bulldogs, one who went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. And there were tremendous big men to come out of Savannah, such as 6-10 Lucius Foster, 6-8 Sam Berry, 6-8 Joby Wright and 6-9 Keith Bowman. Also a powerful big guy from the Augusta area who came to Glynn County Gym to face the Terrors was 6-8 John Ribock.
But for just one player, at least on the nights I saw him, I’m going with Keith Bowman of Savannah High. The Blue Jacket center was smooth as silk with his inside moves and ability to go to the basket and also could pop jumpers anywhere from 20 feet on in. You could make a case for any of these guys I’ve mentioned as being the best but again, I go with Bowman, who would go on to play for New Mexico State.