Kam Woods is a four-time Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA) All-State selection and a three-time finalist for Mr. Basketball—an annual award presented to the state’s top high school player. As the 2020 NJN Basketball Player of the Year, Woods is a repeat winner.

The guard started and finished his high school career with head coach Darrell Barber, winning a Class 3A state championship at Midfield in 2017 and a Class 6A state championship at Pinson Valley in 2019. As a senior this season, Woods knocked down 147 triples and averaged 38.1 points per game for the Tribe. 

He is also a three-time ASWA Player of the Year winner, taking the 3A crown as a sophomore at Midfield before winning back-to-back 6A POY awards at Pinson Valley. The 6-foot-1 guard posted 3,711 career points, which puts him among the AHSAA’s top 10 all-time scorers. 

He holds multiple mid-major scholarship offers, but is currently uncommitted.

BOYS

POY: Kam Woods, senior, Pinson Valley

Guard: Kam Burkett, senior, Gardendale

He ran the point for Gardendale, as the Rockets reached the Class 6A state playoffs for the second straight year under head coach Trent Hosmer. 

Burkett shot 37% from beyond the arc and averaged 12.4 points per game to go with 3.5 assists and 3.1 steals last season. He was selected to the 6A All-Area 11 Team and also claimed a spot on the Northwest Florida Shootout All-Tournament Team. 

Guard: Willie Smith, senior, Fultondale

Fultondale head coach David Reed pointed to Smith as his offensive and defensive leader last season. The senior guard averaged 13.3 points, three assists and three steals per night for the Wildcats. 

Smith was an honorable mention quarterback on the 2019 All-North Jefferson News Football Team. 

Wing: Nolan Dean, senior, Mortimer Jordan

This was his third year leading the Mortimer Jordan Blue Devils in 3-point shooting. Head coach Josh Golden says Dean is the best pure shooter he’s coached.

Despite drawing face-guarding defense most nights, Dean averaged 12 points per game while shooting 37% from deep last season. 

Guard: Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry, junior, Pinson Valley

As a two-sport standout at Pinson Valley, McKinstry has established himself as a top-tier recruit on both the gridiron and the hardwood. He averaged 15 points and five rebounds for the Indians last season on their way to the Northeast Regional finals. 

McKinstry also earned All-NJN honors for the 2018-19 season. 

Guard: Josh Maston, junior, Fultondale

Fultondale was a better team with Maston on the floor.

The junior guard led FHS in 3-point shooting, and scored an average of 11.6 points per game to go with two assists and five boards. According to Fultondale head coach David Reed, his Wildcats lost all five games Maston missed as he recovered from an injury. 

Wing: Jalon Moore, junior, Gardendale

Moore made 52% of the shots he took in 2019-20, finishing his junior year with 16.7 points and seven-plus rebounds per game. His aggressive offensive approach got him to the free-throw line where he sank 75% of his attempts. 

Moore earned all-tournament honors at the Spain Park Jag Classic and Oak Mountain Invitational, and was later named to the Class 6A All-Area 11 Team. 

Guard: Tyler Andrews, senior, Tabernacle Christian

Andrews was hard to stop this season.

The senior guard led Tabernacle Christian to the tune of 18.5 points per game—a mark crippled by his lack of fourth-quarter minutes, due to the team’s dominant leads. Andrews earned all-tournament honors in each of the four brackets Tabernacle competed. 

Guard: DJ Parks, sophomore, Mortimer Jordan

Parks really provided some juice to the backcourt in Kimberly. 

According to Mortimer Jordan head coach Josh Golden, the sophomore began to surge in the second half of the year and finished second on the team in assists and charges taken. Parks sank five 3-pointers in two different games for the Blue Devils; one of them against Class 7A Final Four participant, Oak Mountain. 

Forward: Gage Bandy, senior, Corner

He missed a chunk of the early season with an injury, but once he got back on the floor, opponents quickly took notice of Bandy. 

The senior was productive with and without the ball, as Corner reached the semifinals of the Class 5A, Area 11 Tournament. 

“He’s definitely the leader,” said Corner head coach Billy Conner on senior night. “He’s our defensive stopper and he’s the captain; everybody knows that they’re going to get hard play out of him.”

GIRLS

Guard: Bellah Machen, sophomore, Mortimer Jordan

Machen led the Blue Devils with 11 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season. The sophomore guard shot 43% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc as Mortimer Jordan marched on to a Class 5A, Area 11 championship. 

Forward: Gracie Howard, sophomore, Tabernacle Christian

According to Tabernacle Christian coaches, their sophomore forward, Gracie Howard, led the Torches on and off the floor last season. Howard finished strong, putting up 28 points per game in the Alabama Christian Athletic Association State Tournament. In total, she finished with an average of 15.5 points per game. 

Guard: Jaylen Pleasant, freshman, Mortimer Jordan

She was a tough assignment for any perimeter defender last season. Pleasant, a freshman transfer, averaged eight points and three steals per night as the Mortimer Jordan point guard. 

Forward: Sarah Beth Brake, junior, Gardendale

Brake, who doubles as an all-state catcher on the softball field, found her form on the hardwood last season. The Gardendale junior led the Rockets with 9.1 points per game and added another 2.5 boards. 

Wing: MacKynzie Watson, senior, Mortimer Jordan

A four-year Mortimer Jordan starter, Watson played a vital role in three area championships under head coach Kelly Robinson. She was, perhaps, the most versatile player on the Blue Devil roster, playing in the paint and on the perimeter to the tune of nine points and 4.2 rebounds per game. 

Watson also earned All-NJN honors for the 2018-19 season.

Guard: Preslie Ross, senior, Gardendale

Perhaps, the most reliable piece of Gardendale’s offense was senior Preslie Ross. She stepped behind the arc for an average of 2.36 makes per game in 2019-20. Ross finished the year with 7.78 points per outing for first-year head coach Chris Berry. 

Guard: Sarah Kanaday, freshman, Mortimer Jordan

Mortimer Jordan leaned on its freshman sharpshooter at times last season. Kanaday displayed her spot-up game in a big way after making an adjustment in January, answering with two 21-point games and an 18-point effort in MJ’s Area 11 Tournament opener. She averaged nine points per game in 2019-20.

Small forward: Courtney Whatley, senior, Pinson Valley

Erik Harris is the sports editor for The North Jefferson News. He can be reached at sports@njeffersonnews.com

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