By Lee Davis
The 2016-17 boys basketball season will likely be remembered as “The Year of the Spartans,” as Mountain Brook earned its third state championship since 2013.
While the Spartans’ epic championship run was undoubtedly a highlight, it wasn’t the only big story of the season. Another was the rise of the unheralded Vestavia Hills Rebels, who hit their stride just in time to reach the Class 7A Final Four.
The season also was highlighted by great individual performers such as Mountain Brook’s Trendon Watford and Spain Park’s Jamal Johnson.
With a mix such as that, it stands to reason that the 2016-17 All-Over the Mountain team may be one of the most talented yet. Three Spartans and three Rebels qualified for the team, which was chosen by an exclusive Over the Mountain Journal poll of the eight head coaches of Class 7A and Class 6A schools in the area. The coaches chose Watford and Johnson as co-Players of the Year. Vestavia’s Patrick Davis – in his first year as coach of the Rebels – was named 2016-17 Coach of the Year.
Watford, a towering 6-foot-8-inch sophomore forward, dominated play for most of the season, leading Mountain Brook to a 31-5 record and the state Class 7A championship. He averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds per game.
“Without a doubt Trendon is one of the best players in Alabama,” said Spartan coach Bucky McMillan. “He does so many things for a team, and he’s just a sophomore. There’s no telling how good he is going to be.”
Johnson was one of the area’s top scorers as an outstanding guard for the Jaguars. Already committed to Memphis University, Johnson is the son of former University of Alabama forward and Houston Rockets star Buck Johnson.
Davis, formerly the head coach at Thompson, led Vestavia to a 19-15 sea- son, which ended with a loss to Auburn in
the Class 7A semi-finals.
“It’s a real honor to be named Coach of the Year, in no small part because it comes from my peers,” Davis said. “But it’s much more about our players than anything I did. They accomplished so much. All of the credit should go to them.”
Watford is joined on the All-Over the Mountain team by fellow Spartans Sean Elmore and Ben McCool. Mac Smith, Mitchell Langley and Scott Morrison represent Vestavia.
Other members of the All-Over the Mountain team include Carson Donnelly, Briarwood Christian; Christian Wilson-Poole, John Carroll Catholic; Trey Jemison and Luke Touliatos, Homewood; Jamari Blackmon and Marion Humphrey, Hoover; and Will Stephenson, Oak Mountain.