East Union coach on TJ Hamblin: ‘Just a great kid’

TJ Hamblin


The anticipation of football season took a tragic turn Friday for the East Union Urchins.

Junior lineman TJ Hamblin, 17, drowned on a team trip to Iuka’s J.P. Coleman State Park.

“He was a wonderful kid, gentle giant,” East Union coach Kevin Walton said. “I’ve just never dealt with anything like this. Me and him were so, I don’t even know, I was like a dad to him. We were just close.”

Hamblin drowned around 6 p.m. His body was recovered approximately three hours later. The team had taken the swimming/fishing trip as a reward for hard work leading to the season. Practice is scheduled to begin Monday. The Urchins are scheduled to open the season on Aug. 21 at home vs. Falkner.

“We’re a family. We had a bond,” said teammate Chase Hall. “We still have a bond, but with TJ, it’s going to leave a place in our heart. It’s going to be hard to get through. But maybe it will give us motivation to keep working hard.”

Walton said Hamblin’s love for the school was immeasurable. He didn’t miss a workout and worked on the field for Walton, picking up rocks, spraying, weed-eating, whatever needed to be done.

“He would find ways to come up here and try to, I mean in the mornings I get to school at 8 o’clock and he would text me,” Walton said, “which I bawled all night long reading those texts, ‘Coach, I’m coming.’”

Now Hamblin won’t be coming out for Monday practice. Late Friday, family, friends, teammates and the Ellistown community rocked by the news gathered at the field house to console one another over a teenager who they say never had anything bad to say and never had anything bad said about him.

Hamblin, who stood 6-foot-2 and had worked to knock some 20 pounds off to get to 230, was part of East Union’s back-to-back state powerlifting championships. Walton said he was in the best shape he’d ever been in.

It happened quickly. Walton said the players were gathered together in one area and noticed he was missing in the maybe 15-20-feet deep water.

“I ran over there and they said, ‘We think he went under, coach.’ I dove over and over and over trying to find him but I couldn’t,” Walton said. “it was, I just couldn’t find him.

“I guarantee you couldn’t find anything bad to say against the boy, just a great kid. (The team) loved him very much.”

A funeral fund has been set up to help with expenses. Please donate at http://www.gofundme.com/2jd5scv6w.


Posted in Football

Please donate to the TJ Hamblin Funeral Fund

As you’ve all heard by now, East Union junior TJ Hamblin drowned last night at Pickwick Lake at J.P. Coleman State Park.

There is a fund set up to help with his funeral expenses. Please donate if you can.

Here is the link.


Posted in Sports

2014-15 MaxPreps Cup Standings


Before the new seasons kick off, MaxPreps has released the 2014-15 Cup standings.

1. (1) Bentonville (Ark.) – 1092
2. (14) Cardinal Gibbons (Raleigh, N.C.) – 1033
3. (7) Carmel (Ind.) – 948
4. (4) St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) – 922
5. (21) Darien (Conn.) – 908
6. (15) Webb (Knoxville, Tenn.) – 850

The rest of the list.

The only Mississippi school on the list is Madison Central at No. 13. It finished 19th the previous year.

*The MaxPreps Cup rankings are compiled by awarding points to schools for first or second-place finishes at the state level. For states that don’t hold state-wide competition, points are adjusted to reward first and second-place teams at the sectional level. Not all sports contested at the state level are included in the MaxPreps Cup standings.

Posted in Sports

Moving golf unfortunate, but right thing


So the MHSAA District I meeting didn’t produce its normal controversy, but New Albany AD Shane Sanderson gave us a close call.

Sanderson, and I don’t think people appreciate how tough it is to make proposals like these, proposed that golf be moved from Spring to Fall. And it makes perfect sense. Golfers are primed from summer tournaments and courses are in top shape and more capable of hosting state tournaments.

The proposal passed and if passed at MHSAA meetings in October and February, would go into effect for the 2016 season.

Not everyone is thrilled with it, particularly Baldwyn, whose reps at the meeting spoke against it. The Bearcats’ best golfers are football players and their football coach, Michael Gray, led the golf team to five straight golf titles from 2010-2014.

One of those graduated champs, Tucker Jenkins, had this to say on Twitter.



He’s spot on. So is Baldwyn. So is Sanderson, who correctly points out better scores are better for college looks, too. As Jenkins points out, it’s an unfortunate truth for teams like Baldwyn.

And if you were a coach losing that golf supplement, that wouldn’t make me happy, either.

Posted in Sports

MHSAA District I Meeting: A Live Blog


Get ready for the action. This right here is a live blog of the MHSAA District I meeting in a numerical style order. I apologize for doing this.

Notes and Things

  • MHSAA will answer questions from media only after the meeting.
  • Mike Lewis is the new boys basketball coach at Alcorn Central.
  • Bruce has 68 new head coaches. But I hear New Albany has 158 new ones, so that should be the record.
  • New Site has a new football coach. I did not know that.
  • Ripley is not here. Want me to represent you?
  • Tupelo’s new baseball coach is Justin Reed,  not of the Provine Posse I assume.
  • Winter meeting scheduled for Dec. 14 here at ICC Belden.
  • I now have Okolona coach Jack Clark’s new number. Not sure who I texted last week about his injured QB.
  • Bout to elect some district officer, a VP (to be a coach): Michael Bradley nominated, Trent Hammond nominated. Your winner is Michael Bradley. Technically the winner is no one if we count people who did not vote.
  • Electing 4A legislative spot: New Albany AD Shane Sanderson is keeping his spot. I did not get nominated.
  • Shannon bball coach Cedric Brim and TCPS football coach Shaune Holiday are sitting at a far table by themselves.
  • Coaches obviously prefer white Nike Frees. Not one coach is wearing KD socks.
  • I was once introduced here as “Bradley Speck.” I’ve been called worse.
  • Damon Ladner suggest to me via Twitter that next year’s elections be settled via arm wrestling. I agree.
  • Softball proposal coming… Wheeler coach Andy Richey proposes fastpitch softball takes four playoff teams per division. Currently three go. I’m of the opinion three is already too many. Two should be the number in every single sport. Covering 3-14 playoff teams is goofy. Proposal passed.
  • Shane Sanderson is proposing something but I’d be lying if I tried to explain it. I’ll get clarification before spouting off.
  • Sanderson proposing to move golf to the fall. Baldwyn doesn’t like it. Controversial golf is good golf.
  • Track and Field proposal. I propose football teams that win less than one game have their coaches run the 4x800M relay on MPB. No one is opposed, but that also wasn’t the actual proposal.
  • Coaches are now being scolded for not having all their proposal in two weeks ahead of time.
  • That’s all the proposals.
  • Dangit, Nettleton, go pick up your packet.
  • There is a grammar miscue on the screen. Secretaries don’t schedules. They schedule.
  • MHSAA: “Don’t practice early and not when you’re not supposed to be.” Yeah I’m sure that’s not happening. Wink, wink.
  • Saltillo OC Chris McCrory is down to the ice. Time to wind this down.
  • We’re still here and coaches are now texting me jokes.
  • There is a new MHSAA transfer form.
  • It’s over. Thanks for tagging along.
Posted in Sports

Starkville 2016 SG Carter gets Baylor offer

HoopSeen’s Garrett Tucker reports that 2016 Starkville G Tyson Carter has received an offer from Baylor.

Small schools hit him first, but entering his senior season, the 6-foot-4 SG is creating bigger waves. His offers include Mississippi State, Memphis, Iowa State, Florida Gulf Coast, Miami, Murray State, Rhode Island, South Alabama,  Southern Miss, Arizona State,  NC State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Vanderbilt , TCU and UNLV.

Here is a story I did on Carter from summer ball.


Posted in Basketball, Recruiting

Good ribbing for Houston’s MSU, OM commits

Luke Hancock@brandonspeck

Houston baseball has two SEC commits, 2018 C Luke Hancock headed to Mississippi State and 2017 in P/INF Tanner Smith headed to Ole Miss.

Hancock says there is a bit of good ribbing.

“We’re always talking crap to each other,” Hancock said. “It’s fun competition together.”

There is obviously plenty of time for flipping each other, but Toppers coach Scott Gann doesn’t expect that to happen. It’s baseball – and Houston’s quota on recruiting drama was filled by the 2013 Chris Jones saga.

“I feel like baseball is a completely different world than football,” Gann said. “Schools are still recruiting until the papers are sent. I think baseball, it’s more of a gentleman’s rule kind of thing. Once a kid is committed, they stay in touch, but you don’t see a whole lot of folks flipping.”

Posted in Baseball, Recruiting

Hoots’ QB Miller ‘pretty fast … with a canon’

Itawamba quaterback Vijay Miller drives his Indians down the field to score their third touchdown of the first half against Aberdeen on Friday. (Thomas Wells)

Itawamba quaterback Vijay Miller drives his Indians down the field to score their third touchdown of the first half against Aberdeen on Friday. (Thomas Wells)


Itawamba AHS coach Clint Hoots is surprised as anyone his quarterback doesn’t have a sheet full of football scholarship offers. They’re also not the only ones who expect them to start piling up.

“I’ve seen him at a bunch of camps. I’m just waiting for somebody to pull the trigger,” Hoots said.

Last season, Miller threw for 2,243 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed for 10 touchdowns, a number he wouldn’t mind reducing.

Before he tucks it, Hoots wants his senior, who has an offer from Arkansas-Monticello, to step into the pocket when the outside rush comes.

If he does roll, he has more of a green light than most quarterbacks, even throwing across his body.

“He can roll out to one side to stretch the field and can make a 20-yard out route,” Hoots said. He does it every day in practice.”

Miller keeps the same demeanor no matter what, Hoots says, from the opening snap to the most pressurized ones. In the spring game, that included an 80-yard bomb to open it, he also made a play out of a near sack. With a tackler at his legs, he threw to a back behind his back that turned into a 20-yard gain.

Miller is working on his 4.6 speed.

“People get wrapped up in the 4.4s,” Hoots said, “but that’s pretty fast, especially when you attach a rocket to his arm.”

Posted in Football, Recruiting

IAHS QB Vijay Miller eyeing two sports


Itawamba AHS QB Vijay Miller has a canon, from the pocket (which he says he is trying to stay in longer) and from the mound.

Last season, Miller threw for 2,243 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. In baseball, he pitched an 8-1 record with a 1.58 ERA.

In college next year, he’s not ruling out doing both. Caught up with the two-sport star on the baseball field to talk football.

Click here for the story and below is some video.

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Posted in Baseball, Football, Recruiting

Union doing different type hoops camp


The 2015 Union County Basketball Camp is scheduled for July 27-30 at Ingomar High. It’s not your typical camp. Instead, it is a rare chance to get instruction from a handful of highly-regarded and respected Union County coaches.

Coaches leading the camp include Ingomar coach Jonathan Ashley, Myrtle coach Rob Browning, East Union coach Tim McDonald, West Union coach Tim Henderson and New Albany Middle coach Don Reed.
The camp is for grades fifth through 12th and lasts from 8 a.m. to noon each day. Cost is $80 ($50 per additional child from same household).

Shirts will be given to each participant. For more information, email Ashley at ashleyj@union.k12.ms.us.

Posted in Basketball

Da House showcasing the good in AAU


AAU basketball gets a bad rap, deservedly so when only seen at its worst – teams recruiting from other teams, money changing hands, coaches profiting more than players developing.

When viewed in its true form, Da House coach Gary Caveness says “it’s remarkable.”

Here is my story (click) on the the good of AAU and grassroots hoops, as well as some video with Da House 15U member Robert Woodard.

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Posted in Basketball, Recruiting

Warren talks winning shot for Da House


SUWANEE, Ga. – Corinth 2018 G JonDarius Warren hit a huge 3-pointer to life Da House to a 67-63 win against Upward Stars Saturday to close out its 3-1 mark in the Under Armour Association Finals.

It wasn’t a designed play and Warren wasn’t riding a huge game at the time. But the shot showed the value of AAU and the confidence Warren and his coach have in him.

Click here for my story, as well as some video with Warren, Robert Woodard and Ma’Darius Hobson.

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Posted in Basketball, Recruiting

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