David Mitchell commentary: Kahlia Lawrence should be state player of year
March 11, 2014Kendrick High School
Kahlia Lawrence's legacy among the all-time great basketball players in the Bi-City's history is safe.
She made sure of that by completing her career with a state championship on Friday afternoon in Macon.
She scored 25 points in that game to bring her career total to 2,086 in three years at Kendrick, a school record.
She averaged 26 points per game in her senior year, when she was called upon by coaches to shoulder a bigger load in the offense when fellow senior Deja Cheatham went down with an injury.
There isn't a high school basketball fan in the area who hasn't become abundantly familiar with her smooth jump shot, slick ball handling and ferocious defense.
Outside the city, though -- surprising as it may be -- hers is less of a household name. She doesn't have scholarship offers from Tennessee or Connecticut and didn't play at a major private school in Atlanta.
She did play against those girls in the playoffs, though, and she left them all stranded in her wake.
Under the bright lights of the Macon Centreplex on Friday, she was the best player on the floor, and I'm hoping those in attendance will remember that when it comes to selecting the top players in the state.
In case her performance against Wesleyan wasn't convincing enough to some, I'm going to go ahead and state the case for her:
She should be this year's state player of the year.
The numbers alone are enough to warrant consideration: She averaged 26 points, 7 rebounds and 6.1 steals per game. She failed to score 20 points only six times and broke 30 on 10 occasions.
Twice, she scored more than 40, including a school record 45 points in a win against Bremen.
But that isn't it.
While she is the most talented player every time she steps on the floor, she doesn't elevate herself over her teammates. On the contrary, she's generous to a fault.
She tries to involve everyone in games so much that coaches, on occasion, have to encourage her to take more control.
Personal accolades take a backseat to achievements as a team. When she broke the school's all-time scoring record, it wasn't until I requested a point tally from coach Sterling Hicks that they even learned of her accomplishment. And when we told her about it, she smiled sheepishly and, moments later, was back on the court with her teammates.
She could average such an eye-popping number as 30-plus points per game, but the team may not have had the chemistry necessary to win it all if she did. And that's all she really cared about.
She does her hardest work when no one is looking. One assistant coach at another school told me a story about going to see Hicks at the school last summer. Hicks was in his office. Lawrence was on the court running ball-control drills.
There were no eyes upon her, no scouts taking notes. She was on the court because that is her home and she's willing to do whatever it takes to earn it.
So, this is my message to the sports writers who will select the state's top player:
Remember Kahlia Lawrence's name when you make your selections.
David Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.