The Mountain Brook Spartans completed a phenomenal season finishing off a 3rd straight state championship last Saturday Night with a 61-42 victory over Baker of Mobile. The Spartans compiled a 31-3 record and are the first team in the state’s highest classification to win 3 state championships in a row. That dates back to 1950. Not only that, the Spartans also finished their season ranked 5th in the country by USA Today’s Super 25 rankings with victories over No.1 IMG Academy out of Bradenton, Florida, 72-67, in the City of Palms Tournament in Fort Myers Florida on December 28th. IMG featured 3, 5 stars and 2, 4 stars who are attending blue chip college programs. It was a phenomenal victory for the team. The great Trendon Watford outplayed all 5 of the IMG players scoring 38 points. It was a tremendous individual performance from the 5 star.
The Spartans also defeated Memphis East, 51-47, on January 26th in the Hot Bed Classic in Mississippi. Memphis East featured the No.1 player in country, James Wiseman, who is 7’0”, 210, and will be playing at Memphis under Penny Hardaway. Also on that team was 4 star Malcolm Dandridge, 6’8”, 245, who will also be playing for Memphis. Another key victory for the Spartans on a national level was the 56-53 victory over Olive Branch of Mississippi at the Lighthouse Classic in Mississippi on November 24th, a team which featured 98, 4 star D. J. Jeffries, a 6’4”, 218 pound shooting guard, who is also going to Memphis.
Then the Spartans navigated the state and came through in the clutch, particularly in the semifinal game of the state championships last Thursday when Alex Washington drained four 3 pointers in a row to bring the Spartans back from a 6 point deficit in the 3rd quarter and lead them to a 59-48 victory.
I spoke with Coach McMillan along with 3 of his star seniors, Trendon Watford, Alex Washington and Lior Berman and got their insights on the season and the magnitude of being the first team ever in the state to win 3 state championships in a row.
Here’s what they all had to say.
DW: What did you guys do after you won the state for the third time in a row?
Bucky: We went up to Mafioso’s in Crestline Village, we had a big party up there, it was fun. We do it every time.
DW: What is it like to win 3 in a row now and 5 in the last 7 years?
Bucky: I was telling someone this. When you look at it now, this team was such a great team. We were top 5 in the country. This was how good this team was. We didn’t play our best basketball in the last 2 games. Watching the last half of the last game, compare it to where it started (11 years ago) and we were happy to get out of the area tournament. We won the state championship by 19, and I thought we could have played a lot better than that. That’s just how good this team was. We found a way to get it done in the last game. Baker pulled a couple of upsets to get there. It was a great run by those guys. We were probably having too much fun when we got up by 20. When you play in these games, Lee Montgomery is just so athletic, they get you to play ugly and you just got to get through it. There have been a lot of teams with players like Trendon Watford. DeMarcus Cousins (LeFlore, Mobile) Eric Bledsoe (Parker) Robert Horry, (Andalusia) Charles Barkley (Leeds), Gerald Wallace (Childersburg), and all of these guys they never won a state championship. All these guys went on to the NBA. It’s just not a given because you have a great player and very good players that you’ll do it, and particularly to win it 3 times in a row, those players have to have something special about them. When they do face adversity, they play well. When they aren’t playing their best, they continue to play defense and guard. That was the strength of our team, no one in the playoffs could get to 50 on us. You hold teams under 50 and sometimes under 40, and the teams can’t get to 50 and I’m pretty sure our guys are going to get to 50 somehow, and you can win even when you’re shooting poorly. We were 1 for 16 from 3 (versus Baker) and finally sank a 3 in the last minute against to go 2 for 17. That’s the great part about it. When they’re not playing their best offensively, they guard and grind and look good doing it. You’re playing Vestavia for the fourth time and James Clemsons, you can slip up, and our guys wouldn’t let that happen. In 2017, we’re playing Gadsen City and it’s a tie game with under a minute left and they have the ball and we have to get the ball back and score, and we score and we make a free throw and we win by 1 in that game. That was in 2017, the regional semifinals, the Sweet 16. And then the Elite 8 we’re down 6 or 7 to Huffman with 3 minutes left in the game and we come back and we win that. And the next one, we’re down 1 to McGill Toolen (in the Final Four) with about 2 minutes left to go in the game and we win that game and come back to win the championship. In 2018, we’re playing Huffman in the regional finals, Elite Eight game, and the lead changes or is tied 32 different times and we never had more than a 4 point lead, neither team did. And in the last 2 minutes of the game we pulled it out and won 78-71. We went on to the Civic Center and played really well. Then this year, we had to face some adversity against Lee. We were down 6 points with 2 minutes left in the third quarter. We didn’t have much rhythm, they were doing a great job defensively and we had to have something different so Alex Washington makes five 3’s, 4 to end the game when we just had to have it. And so we win that game. We went against Baker who we could usually beat. People forget all those other games where it could have gone the other way and you looked dead to rights, and our guys came through and won it. So we found a way. You don’t hear much about guys 3-peating because they have an off game and slip up, they don’t win those 50-50 games, they don’t come back from 6 or 7 down with 3 minutes left. So it’s more about the culmination of all 3 of those years and being in those tough games and coming out on top.
DW: It’s hard to beat Vestavia 4 times in a year like you did this year.
Bucky: Yes, there was a lot of pressure in the regional finals because we had already beaten them 3 times. We got up on’em 32-11 at halftime. We came out making every shot, playing well, and just getting it done.
DW: What is Trendon’s legacy at Mountain Brook and what does his future look like in the college game and in professional basketball?
Bucky: He has such a legacy at Mountain Brook because of the great success he had here. He is a 2 time Mr Basketball right now and you gotta assume he’s got a great chance to be that guy again. Gatorade player of the year 2 years in a row and he’ll be that again this year. He’s a McDonald’s All American, my goodness, Mountain Brook has a McDonald’s All American and he’s been offered by about every school in the country and he’s been talking to Coach K a lot in the past few days. So his legacy as a player is just phenomenal. He wasn’t just a good player, he also did a lot for this school by not only being successful himself on the floor, but also by helping the team be successful. It wasn’t like he was player of the year, McDonald’s All American and won a lot of awards but the team didn’t do great. He was part of a great team and made the team great. One thing people forget, we’ve played 6 state championships in the last 7 years and Trendon’s played in 3 of them. Trendon didn’t play in the other 3. We played in 3 before Trendon got here. The culture has done a lot for Trendon Trendon’s first year on the team in 2016 as a ninth grader, we lose in a Sweet 16 game. I remember he and I walked off the court and he told me I never want to feel this again. And he made sure he didn’t.
DW: How do you see his college future and beyond that?
Bucky: I just think the sky’s the limit. He’s got the size. He’s a prototype. He can play a guard position, he’s 6’9”, with a 7’2”, wingspan. And he can dribble it and he can shoot it. He didn’t shoot it great from 3 at the Civic Center, but he’s become a really good 3 point shooter. And he’s got great handles and he’s a great passer. He can guard the perimeter, he can guard down low. It’s not like he’s a great high school player whose size will not translate. Sometimes you have a great high school player who’s a 6’4” center and he’s a bulldog, But the problem is how many 6’4” centers are in the NBA? He’s never going to be outsized. He’s going to be a 6’9”, 2, 3 or 4. So he’s going to be able to always be the biggest guy at his position.
DW: How much does he weigh?
Bucky: People ask me that all the time, I don’t know weights, I don’t know our players’ weights.
DW: Do you care about that, does that matter?
Bucky: I just care about their strength. In basketball it’s not as much about weight as it is strength. That’s been one of his biggest deals, is the weight room. He’s just become a much better athlete. He’s come into his own as an athlete.
DW : Do you feel like Duke is getting real attractive to him?
Bucky: I do. We’ll know if he’ll go for a visit coming up. It’s moving in the right direction.
DW: When will the 7A player of the year be announced?
Bucky: They’ll do it in the next month or so. They’ll do Gatorade player of the year and Mr. Basketball. But Mr. Basketball is the best honor along with the McDonald’s All American Game. (Wednesday, March 27th in Atlanta at 6 PM CT on ESPN2, best high school players in the country competing).
DW: I bet you’re excited to see him play in the McDonald’s?
Bucky: I can’t wait. I get to coach Trendon again on March 15th ( a week from tomorrow ) in the Alabama-Mississippi all star game. I’m coaching the Alabama team. He’s playing obviously. That was my first pick. (***Bucky said that didn’t take much thought). Ten days later he’ll play in the McDonalds game in Atlanta. It’s such a cool thing because they’re practicing, the NBA scouts are there, its’ a great opportunity.
DW: Do you think he’ll be a 1 and done kind of player or do you want to see how he develops?
Bucky: You just never know. I can’t definitely say he won’t be. You can’t ever say definitely. I couldn’t say if LeBron went to college that he’d be a 1 and done. You just never know.
DW: What about the play of Alex in the semifinals and Lior in both games?
Bucky: Alex, for his first couple of years, was not a great shooter. He was an adequate shooter. Sometimes he was so quick they would take their chances with him shooting it because that was the best way to guard him. Well he did everything else, driving it, passing, defending that shooting probably was the weakest part of his game. Well he turned the weakest part of his game into his strength this year. He shot 47% from the 3 point line and that’s up there at the top of the state. We had to have that in the Lee game. They were double and triple teaming Trendon. We were off. Some plays we normally make, we missed a layup. So we had to have it. Nobody was making 3’s and we were missing layups. They were trapping like crazy. It wasn’t about as a coach calling plays. There were 3 minutes left in the third and we called a timeout and I told them don’t look at me to call a play. Somebody is going to have to make a play besides Trendon for us to win this game or we’re not going to win this game. If we’re making plays and we go down swinging we can live with that. But someone has to step up and make some plays. And Alex goes off. He makes four 3’s in the last 10 minutes of the game. We weren’t going to get much at the rim. Alex stepped up there behind the 3 and said I’ll get this done and he did.
Lior Berman came out in the high pressure game and performed. Some of our juniors felt a little pressure and turned the ball over some, and Lior decided, hey, I’m going to the rack. He played against a team that was as athletic as we’ve played. And he kept us up by 4 at halftime. One thing about Lior, he’s not afraid of the big stage. The bigger the game, the better he’s played. That goes all the way back to his 10th grade year. In that Gadsden City game, our senior went out with 4 fouls and Lior stepped up in that game. He did the same thing as an 11th grader. And as a senior. The bigger the stage, the better he’s played.
DW: Finally what does all this mean to you personally?
Bucky: It’s something that can never be taken away no matter what. If I was in an accident and I couldn’t coach another basketball game, I would know that from 2013-19, that was the greatest run in big school high school basketball history. And for that to happen in a place I’m coaching and to happen at the place not only where I’m coaching, but where I grew up going to games, where I played, a place I love and I live in, that means so much to me. It just makes me so proud for the community. When I get texts, it’s not just from the players, I got 300 texts in the past couple of days, and it’s not just from players or past players, it’s from random people that I know through someone else. They say I got your number from someone else and I came to the game and lived in this community for 35 years and the community is so proud. And that’s what’s unique to me. It’s not just the team being proud and the school being proud, it’s that the community and past Spartans are so proud of the group and what we’ve accomplished. And that’s remarkable. And there are 2 things I want to say. You know we won it in 2013 and I was very proud of the team. But when I first started coaching in 2008-09, we had a group that came in there and the year before they were 8-18,. My first year we won 18 games. And they would not be remembered for holding up the championship trophy, but they were the team and the group that laid the foundation for what Mountain Brook basketball was going to be the next 10-11 years. Their talent level wasn’t what this group is. But the heart, the fight, the effort that is imprinted in our program started with all the players in that group. And we were good in 2010, we were top 5 in the state. In 2011 and 2012, we were a top 5 team in the state. And we kept getting further and further. We finally figured out how to get out of the area, OK let’s get out of the sub regional game, we got past the subregional. Then we get to the regionals and keep getting beaten in the regionals, and finally we take it a step further, and in 2013 we knock the door down. They would have never knocked the door down without those previous groups that came along. We just kept taking it a little bit further. Now some of those guys won’t get all credit, but 4 guys who will get credit are these 4. In big school basketball no team has never won 3 in a row since the inception of big school basketball. That dates back to 1950. That means that Alex Washington, Trendon Watford, Lior Berman and Paulie Stramaglia were 4 players on all 3 of those teams. Those are the only 4 players in big school history who have won 3 high school championships in a row. But it’s gotta get back to the guys who started in 2009. That’s how we got to where we are today.
DW: What’s next for you, I know you have Alabama-Mississippi, but what about next year how does that look?
Bucky: We’re going to be good next year. We lose a great group but these (juniors) have a big ceiling next year. We’re going to bring back Paulie Stramaglia, who’s coming off a knee injury this season, and he’ll be a Division 1 point guard. We have Colby Jones who’ll be a Division 1 player. Holt Bashinsky will be a college basketball player. Peyton Haley will be a college basketball player. He’ll be back. I’ll have 7 players back. We’ve got Alex Belk, Edward Reed and Carter Sobera. So those 7 will come back and it’ll be a great nucleus of players. I think we’ll be really good. We won’t be as tall, we’ll have to go back to playing like we did in 2013, but there will be a lot more pressing and trapping. It’ll be a lot faster. It’s fun though.
DW: Will you have to shoot it better next year though you shot well this year?
Bucky: We’ll be more reliant on shooting 3’s that’s for sure. We’ll shoot a lot more 3’s in games. We didn’t have to this year.
DW: Will you have a good 3 point shooting team next year?
Bucky: We will. We’ll shoot it at a very high clip. The great thing about this team is that we shot it 2 for 17 from 3 (in the state championship game) and won by 19. That’s a positive. Next year we may not have that luxury.
DW: You’ll definitely be back next year?
Bucky: Yes, I’ve been waiting for this group to come through for a long time.
DW: You must be excited about this group.
Bucky: We’ve got a bunch of guys that play basketball all the time. It’s what they do. Some groups do well at baseball, some groups may be a good football group, some group may be good at all 3. But this group I know they’ve always been good at basketball.
The great Trendon, a consensus 5 star, is down to 5 schools after averaging 24 points, 12 rebounds and 3 1/2 assists this season along with several blocked shots. For his 4 year career, Watford scored 3,579 points, 6th all time and most in the highest classification, he pulled down 1,915 rebounds, the most all time in Alabama high school basketball history. His choices are Duke, Alabama, LSU, Memphis and Indiana. Here’s what Trendon had to say.
DW: I know you guys were tested both on a national and state level, but what does it mean to win 3 state championships?
TW: It meant the world to us. We definitely came in every day and worked hard in practice. We showed them how hard we worked and how hard work pays off.
DW: Do you feel like you played your best in the state championship tournament?
TW: No, definitely not, definitely not.
DW: You and your team accomplished so much. What was your mindset heading into the state championship tournament (The Final Four)?
TW: We wanted to treat it like every other game. We didn’t want to treat it like a state championship game or a Final Four game. We just try to treat every game like it’s the same. And I just feel like we didn’t shoot the ball very well. But I thought we played defense at a top level, and I think that helped us when we weren’t playing that well on offense. We really played some defense.
DW: You got a lot of rebounds in those games, were you happy about that?
TW: I definitely had to do everything the team needed me to do especially in the Final Four game because it was hard keeping Lee Montgomery off the glass. So I just had to step up and rebound.
DW: Do you feel like when your shot’s not falling you try to do other things well?
TW: My shot wasn’t falling and a lot of the other shots weren’t falling. We definitely had to guard and board and we did that well.
DW: Where do you think your game is headed into the next chapter of your career?
TW: I definitely need to get better at things. I’m going to work a lot this summer and get ready for the next level.
DW: Trendon, that IMG game was quite a victory for your team. How did that game go and what did it mean to you and your team to come out victorious?
TW: It meant a lot to us and a lot to me. I was going against some guys who were ranked ahead of me and ranked below me. I definitely looked forward to that game and my team did also. We played pretty well that game. It was a win and a good win for our team.
DW: Those guys were all highly ranked players , like you said, a couple above you, a couple below you. What did you all think going into that game was there an intimidation factor or where you guys pretty confident?
TW: We were pretty confident. We came out there with a nothing to lose mentality, and we just went out there and played hard. That’s how we treated it.
DW: What was you guys’ reaction when you won that game? That had to be an incredible feeling.
TW: We definitely were excited. We knocked off the No.1 team in the country. They hadn’t lost a game and they still haven’t lost a game since that game. We definitely had fun afterwards.
DW: I know there’s a national tournament in California that can decide the national champion in high school basketball. Do you wish you guys were there?
TW: Yeah, I definitely wish we were there. We were invited, but can’t play (***note: due to an Alabama High School Association rule that protects Alabama athletes academically). I haven’t though about it that much, but I definitely wish we could play in it.
DW: Now you have the Alabama-Mississippi game (next week). How much are you looking forward to that one?
TW: I haven’t thought a lot about it, but my head coach is coaching in it, so I look forward to it.
DW: Then you play in the McDonald’s All American game (Wednesday, March 27th, 6 PM CT ESPN2, in Atlanta). How big of a deal is that for you?
TW: That’s a really big deal to me. It means a lot from my high school career. A lot of guys i know are playing in that game.
DW: What players are you looking forward to facing in that game?
TW: I’ve faced a lot of those guys, so I’m very excited about it, playing on that stage in the State Farm Arena. Yeah, I’m very excited about it.
DW: Do you think you’ll announce your college decision in that game?
TW: I might. I haven’t really thought about it, but I might.
DW: I know Coach K has called you a couple of times, how does that feel?
TW: It feels good to hear from the Duke staff and Duke in general feels good.
DW: What are they telling you? Have they offered?
TW: They haven’t officially offered, but they talked about me playing in the future. They’re getting ready to play in a conference tournament, but it’s good to be hearing from them some.
DW: You have a final 5, Alabama, LSU, Indiana, Duke and Memphis. Tell me about each one. 'First of all lets go with Alabama, what do you like about them?
TW: They’ve been recruiting me since the 8th grade. They were the first school to recruit me and offer me a scholarship. I like Coach Avery Johnson and the staff there.
DW: What about LSU?
TW: I like Coach Will Wade. I like what he’s doing. He’s got his team in the top 15, top 10 of the country, and he knows what he’s doing.
DW: What about Memphis.
TW: I have a strong relationship with Coach Penny (Hardaway) and Coach Mike Miller. I enjoyed my visit there and I like that school a lot.
DW: What about Duke.
TW: I haven’t really been able to visit up there but I like the way they play. Coach K is one of the greatest coaches ever.
DW: And what about Indiana
TW: My brother played there (Christian) and I have a lot of family ties up there. Really like it up there.
DW: What’s your brother up to now. What’s Christian doing?
TW: He’s playing with the Raptors 905 team, their G League team.
***Note: Christian was a standout at Shades Valley High School in the first decade of the 2000’s. He played for Tom Crean at Indiana and fell one game short of going to the Final Four his senior season. He had a stellar college career, and now, at 28, is still trying to make it in the NBA playing in the triple A of the Toronto Raptors organization.***
DW: Do you have a timeline when you’ll make a decision for college?
TW: No, I do not.
DW: How do you feel about it, do you feel pressure or do you feel kind of relaxed about it?
TW: I feel relaxed about it. I wanted to finish my high school career, and now I can take it in my own time.
DW: Have you enjoyed the process of recruiting?
TW: Yeah, I’ve definitely enjoyed it.
DW: Finally, what are you doing now? How much are you and your team enjoying this accomplishment of a 3 peat?
TW: A lot of our guys are excited about it. We’re definitely enjoying it. It was a heckuva season.
DW: Alex, tell me what does it mean to you to win 3 in a row?
AW: It just means the world. Coming back from all the adversity, it means a lot for sure.
DW: What kind of adversity did you and your team have to go through?
AW: My first year we were here, we went out in the first round (2016). At Mountain Brook, we’re used to going to the BJCC every year. We went over there and we lost, and everybody’s asking us what happened. So that motivated us even more to go on and win 3 more.
DW: Did you feel pressure with that?
AW: There’s always pressure with that, but inside the community everybody supported us.. So mostly it was internal pressure.
DW: How do you respond to those expectations?
AW: I kind of like it because it pushes us. We’re going to be the best we can be, so that definitely pushes us.
DW: Alex, tell me about yourself. You got hot in the semifinal game making four 3’s in a row and 5 for 5 from 3 for the game. What was going on there, was the basket looking pretty big?
AW: Yeah, I just noticed they were doubling Trendon, so I kept getting open and let’er rip. I made 2 and then I thought, all right I’ve got to keep shooting, I think I’m hot.
DW: You guys played an amazing schedule and the IMG win was memorable with Trendon’s 38. Tell me about that game and how it went.
AW: Coach Bucky did a great job game planning all week. All before the game, he was telling us, we’ve got to get’em to play our game not their game. We all had faith that we could win. It was kind of a surprise, but not really because we all knew what we could do in that game.
DW: So you guys felt good going into that game?
AW: Yes sir. We followed the game plan to a T. And made them play a game they weren’t used to playing and it worked out great.
DW: What did you all do exactly?
AW: They’re really talented, and they’re a real transition team. But when they have to guard for long periods of time, they don’t like that. So we just spread them out and made them come out and guard us. They had a big dude who couldn’t really guard Trendon, so we spread them out made them come guard us, we slowed down their transition game, and closed on their shooters, So that did it.
DW: So you guys played more of a half court game in that game?
AW: Yes sir.
DW: Tell me how’s it been playing with Alex, Lior and your senior class?
AW: I love it. We are so close in our senior class. We’re close as a team but especially with our seniors. I just feel like it’s been a blessing playing with them, and seeing us grow into something is pretty cool.
DW: How has it been playing for Coach McMillan?
AW: It’s been great. He brings the best out of us on the court and off the court. He’s going to stay on you no matter if you get 38 or whatever. You’re still going to have to play defense. He’s a genius coach.
DW: What game did you think, well we have a special team, any time in the season?
AW: It was really the City of Palms (where the Spartans defeated IMG in December) because we went there for a week and everybody on the team just bonded. So after that, we had a special group that cared about each other and knew we could win some games.
DW: You played McEachern (of Georgia, No.2 team in the country, 50-29 loss) the next night. What happened in that game?
AW: We had tired legs. We played the night before (against IMG) at 9 and then the next night at 7, so we really didn’t have time to recover. But everybody was just gassed, so it wasn’t our best performance.
DW: Do you think this is the best Mountain Brook team you’ve played on?
AW: Oh yeah, for sure.
DW: What’s made this team so good?
AW: I feel like everybody can play. If you take out Trendon, somebody else can play. We had so much depth. Everybody is really good. We also love playing together. Our chemistry is amazing.
DW: Well tell me about going to Harvard (on a football scholarship) what’s that like?
AW: I’m excited. It’s definitely a dream come true. I’ve been wanting to go to the Ivy League for a long time. I know it’s going to prepare me for the future, so I’m really excited.
DW: Are you going to play both football and basketball there?
AW: I’m still thinking about it. It would be a lot to keep up my school work and play both sports, so I’m still debating it.
DW: Will you play one sport for sure.
AW: i’m going to play football for sure.
DW: And you’re a cornerback aren’t you?
AW: Yes sir.
DW: I saw you, you were quite a cornerback. Your grades must be fantastic, you must have done well in the classroom. How are your grades.
AW: My parents did a good job of making me do my best. And I’ve tried my best to do well in school.
***Alex carries a 3.9 GPA and scored a 28 on his ACT. He also just won a state art award.***
DW: What’s next for you, what do you have cookin?
AW: I’m taking a week off then I’m going to start working on my skills, my footwork and stuff and get ready for football.
DW: What’s it like to be a state champion 3 years in a row?
LB: It’s pretty awesome. Winning it the 3rd year was just as exciting as winning it the first year.
DW: Was any year more special or were they all pretty cool?
LB: I don’t think so. The first year was more special because it was the first one. But every year has had its own specialness to it.
DW: Tell me, you played well in the semis and the finals, but your team didn’t play as well. Were there nervousness or what was happening?
LB: I think it was just one of those games where our team wasn’t playing like we usually do. We still got the job done, but it wasn’t as good as we usually are. It just shows you even when we aren’t playing as well, we find a way to win.
DW: You guys had some amazing wins this year. You beat IMG, you beat Memphis East, you beat Olive Branch. Talk about those games.
LB: If we were assigned the game with IMG tomorrow and we didn’t have any preparation, IMG would just destroy us. But we prepared for them a couple of days before. Going over their players, who can shoot, who can drive, who can do both, and just getting a general game plan for how to beat those teams. When we executed perfectly we were able to be successful in those games. It was a great feeling.
DW: The execution must have been something else in those games.
LB: Yes sir. We knew we had to follow the game plan our coaches had for us perfectly to be successful.
DW: Alex said you guys ran the half court game against IMG. Is that what you all did?
LB: Yes sir. So with IMG, we wanted to make them come outside the 3 point line to come out and guard us, so we had our motion offense and all the action at half court allowed us to drive.
DW: Tell me how Trendon played.
LB: It was incredible. He had 38 and took over. That’s the best basketball I’ve ever seen him play. Defensively and offensively he was at the top of his game.
DW: Does that tell you what kind of college player he’ll be?
LB: Yes sir. If he can do that against all those highly ranked players, then he can do that against a lot of people.
DW: You looking forward to seeing him in the McDonald’s?
LB: I can’t wait.
DW: Tell me about your plans. What have you got cookin now?
LB: I have an offer from Spring Hill in Mobile. But I also have several offers from several D3 high academic schools. I’m not sure what I’m going to do now, but hopefully soon, I’ll be able to say.
DW: What D3 schools are you looking at?
LB: Rhodes (in Memphis), Berry (in Rome, GA.), Birmingham Southern, Sewanee, a couple more.
DW: When do you think you’ll decide?
LB: Probably in the next 2 weeks I imagine.
DW: Are you waiting on something to happen before that?
LB: No, I’m just taking my time, it’s a big decision.
DW: Lior, tell me how’s it been playing with Trendon, Alex and all the seniors.
LB: Well, I love the senior class. We’ve been together a long time. I remember how good I thought Trendon was my first year, and to see him get even better than that this year. The growth of all the players from our first year to now has been pretty incredible. Everyone has grown so much.
DW: What do you attribute that to?
LB: I attribute that to just after the season, we get a month off and get to the offseason grind of conditioning and the early morning hard practices. And all the guys love basketball so much. We might not even have practice and we’ll be in the gym shooting, just trying to get better.
DW: What has Coach McMillan done for you?
LB: He’s done a lot for me. He’s made me a lot tougher person. if you’re tired he’s going to get the best out of you no matter what. He’s always pushing you to be the best you can be.
DW: Did you kind of get conditioned with that?
LB: Yes sir. My first year of varsity it was really rough. I wasn’t used to all that running, pressing. In year 2 it was a little easier. Then I learned what spots to go to and it was pretty awesome.
DW: Talk about the leadership of your class for the younger guys
LB:. We led them in ways on the court, what to run. Our coach expects us to do the little things so the juniors and sophomores will know what to do to win.
DW: You think these guys will keep it up next year?
LB: Definitely. We’ve gotten a lot better this year, and they’ll keep it going next year.
DW: Has doing what you guys have done this season with the national victories and the third straight state championship, has it sunk in yet?
LB: Not really. I haven’t really had the chance to encompass everything we’ve done.
DW: How much have you enjoyed the experience of playing for Mountain Brook?
LB: Growing up my cousin, Jeremy Berman, was on the team when I was little. I went to all the basketball games and knew it was something I wanted to do. When I finally got into the Mountain Brook system I felt like I was recreating what the guys before me did.
DW: Your dad was a player at Mountain Brook?
LB: Yes sir. His name is Elan.
DW; Has he supported you a lot in this experience?
LB: Yes sir, all the time. He made sure I woke up for those early AM practices.
DW: When do you guys practice in the morning?
LB: We start going at 6 (AM), get an hour and a half in, so we have time to shower and get to school. We can get our legs back in the afternoon.
DW: You’ve had a great career and excited to hear about your future. What does winning 3 in a row mean to you? That’s tremendous.
LB: It just shows that if you do the small things and keep working hard, it’ll pay off. We have to buy into the system. If everyone on the team is buying into the system, there are no weak links, and I feel like there’s no weak link on our team. Everyone wanted to be great and follow the system. It shows you how hard work pays off.
DW: Let me know by text when you decide what to do.
LB: I will. Thank you so much for reaching out to me.
Winner at the Arnie