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Hurt, Hawkins named to GACA all-state teams

COVINGTON - The postseason basketball accolades continue for Salem's Courtney Hurt and Newton's Jamon Hawkins, who were both named to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association's all-state teams.

Hurt was selected on the Class AAAA girls squad, while Hawkins was named to the Class AAAAA boys team.

This is the third year that Hurt was selected to the all-state team. In her four years playing at Salem, she has also received recognition by the Rockdale/Newton Citizen as Citizen Player of the Year the last two seasons, AJC (terrific 10 preseason and first team), All-Region first team, Atlanta Tip-Off Club Team of the Year, McDonald's All-American Girls Basketball team, and she was Salem's Most Valuable Player and named the Class AAAA North Senior Player of the Year.

Helping her being named as the senior player of the year was her play in the North-South game.

"In the all-star game, she didn't get a lot of playing time in the first half because the coaches really didn't know a lot about her," Salem coach Bill Roberts said. "The North team was down by nine points when she went in. She scored the next 12 points and helped turn it around to go up by 14. People don't understand her offensive explosiveness."

What made Hurt hard to ignore this season was her 29 points and 12 rebounds per game. She scored a season-high 41 points against Cedar Shoals and collected a season-high 16 rebounds against Beach.

In her time as a Lady Seminole, Hurt set the school record for the most career points scored with 1,988 points and 1,182 rebounds.

She is also the first Salem boys or girls basketball player to sign with a Division I school. Next season, Hurt will be playing at Virginia Commonwealth University.

What made Hurt such a remarkable talent was her ability to develop as a player.

"In the beginning, she was a tremendous rebounder. Over time, she learned how to turn that into an offensive advantage. A lot of her points came off rebounds," Roberts said. "In her junior and senior years, she really became more skilled in the pull-up jumpers, the fadeaway and pulling up behind the arc and hitting the 3s."

Hawkins is a part of a distinguished group on the Class AAAAA boys team, including several Division I players.

"There are a lot of great players on that list, a lot of major Division I players. Jamon has had some college interest all ready at all different levels," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. "He's going to play college ball somewhere, I don't have any doubt.

"It's really an accomplishment to be all-state first team as a junior. I would think that one of his goals would be to do it as a senior and have an even better year. We're really looking forward to him being able to step up as a vocal leader. That will be one of the keys for him next year, to take a big leadership role on the team. He's our best returning player."

In his first year as a starter on the Rams' boys basketball team, the junior guard led the team in assists (4.7), steals (3.5), points (15.0) and blocks (1.0).

Hawkins scored 60 3-pointers, making 40 percent of his shots beyond the arc.

Rasmussen said that Hawkins could have had a better season if not for having the spotlight on him.

"By the end of the year, he was being double- and tripled-teamed, held and grabbed, which made it hard to score. At one point he was averaging 17 points a game," Rasmussen said.

Even though Hawkins led the team in scoring, Rasmussen said the junior is not concerned with personal goals as is evident by his unselfish play on the court.

"I don't think he really cares how many points he scores. He just wants to do the best he can for the team; that's a great leader," Rasmussen said. "Next year we're really hoping that he can be an extension of the coaching staff on the floor. He knows what we expect. He's played four years on the varsity."

Hawkins' other honors this season included being named to 2-AAAAA All-Region Team and Holiday Hoopfest All-Tournament Team.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.