Newton's Croone headed to Furman

Special photo
Newton’s Shane Henry signs his papers to play basketball  for Georgia Perimeter College with  his supporters.

Special photo Newton’s Shane Henry signs his papers to play basketball for Georgia Perimeter College with his supporters.

COVINGTON -- Stephen Croone proved the type of basketball player he was during his time at Newton. Now he plans on doing the same thing at the next level after signing with Furman.

In his final year as a Ram, the 6-foot point guard and future Paladin averaged 20 points, 3.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 2.3 steals, one charge and a blocked shot per game. He led Region 2-AAAAA in scoring and was runner-up for the region player of the year.

"He took 25 charges, that was the most that I've ever coached from one player. He's extremely unselfish, he makes great passes. He can shoot the 3-pointer and he's super quick with the ball. That's why he's a D1 player," said Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen. "He has all the tools and is the total package."

Croone had several offers and other schools looking at him before he made the final decision on Furman.

Some of the other schools included Alabama State, Northeastern University, Wofford, Rider, St. Francis (Pa.), North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Clayton College, Georgia State and Augusta State.

But Northeastern, located in Boston, was too far and Alabama State just did not have the same feel as Furman did when Croone made his official visit.

"I've been playing in a program that's really organized where the coach took care of us. That's what it feels like at Furman. The team was real cool and I had a real connection with the coach. It reminded me a lot of (Newton)," said Croone. "I went on a visit to Alabama State but it wasn't as nice as Furman. It looks like a lot of hard work paid off."

Even though Croone has yet to set foot on the college floor, he indicated the type of player he could be while participating the Georgia Athletics Coaches Association (GACA) All-Star game. As a point guard for the South team, he scored 12 points going 5-for-8 from the field leading team to a 126-96 victory.

"It was very evident in the All-Star game when he had five assists and five rebounds. He was the quickest guard out there. You could tell that the ability was there, that he had the tools," Rasmussen said.

While at Furman, Croone hopes to win the SoCon Conference and make it to the big dance. A big dream considering that SoCon champion Davidson, who lost to Final-Four team Louisville 69-62 in the first round, has all five starters returning.

"I'm kind of nervous because I'm stepping in with the big boys now. I'm leaving this summer to practice in June and July. He told me that if I come in and I'm really mature and he likes what he sees I'll have a really bright future," Croone said.

Croone achieved a lot in his two years as a starter and four years on Newton's team. As a senior, he was named GACA AAAAA South Senior Player of the Year, to the GACA AAAAA first team and Atlanta Journal-Constitution Honorable Mention All-State in 2012. He was MVP of the Wingslingers Holiday Bash tournament where he led Newton to the tournament championship and was named one of 2012 preseason ESPNU top players in Georgia.

He was named to the Citizen All-Area first team in both years as a starter as well as the All-Region 2-AAAAA first team. As a junior, Croone was named to the All-State first team by the GACA.

Also sharing the spotlight with Croone was Shane Henry, who signed with Georgia Perimeter. While playing forward/center for Newton, the 6-6 Henry, who will play small forward at GPC, averaged 9.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game in his senior year.

He was voted as the 2012 All-Region 2-AAAAA team, voted best big man in the region, 2011 All- Area by the Citizen. He made the Wingslinger Holiday Bash all-tournament team and was named Player of the Week by the Citizen on at least one occasion.