NORTH AUGUSTA — Zach Wilson, Tavarez Hall and Eric Collins have one less hurdle to clear in the waning days of their senior year at North Augusta High School. They gathered Monday afternoon, with an audience of friends, family members and teammates, to confirm plans to attend college as scholarship athletes.
Wilson is staying relatively close to home, with plans to play baseball at USC Sumter, while Hall is moving a little farther out, aiming for basketball at Saint Augustine’s University, in downtown Raleigh, N.C. Traveling even farther will be Collins, who is Maryland-bound, planning to swim for the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis.
Collins, whose parents are Tom and Chris Collins, may be the most prominent of the bunch, having bagged two state titles during the 2012-13 school year: the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard breaststroke.
“I’m very diverse with my events,” he said. “I’m good at all the strokes, at varying distances, so whatever they need me to do, I can do at a high level.”
In terms of studies, he’s leaning toward “something in math and science.” A January visit to the campus worked in the academy’s favor, despite the weather having been nasty, he said.
“He always works his hardest at practice,” said teammate Glenn Barnes, also a senior, “and [he’s] just always trying to improve and motivate others while he’s doing it, and throughout his years of practice, it’s enabled him to become one of the best swimmers in the state.”
Hall, who stands 6-foot-5, said he plans to study chemical engineering, and is looking to play small forward and power forward for the Falcons. He described himself as having the advantage of being a “mismatch,” being taller than normal as a small forward, and shorter than normal as a power forward.
He expects to focus on improving his ball-handling in the months ahead, he said.
“I’ve got a good offensive game, but I also shut down the ... players I guard,” said Hall, whose parents are Antonio and Keisha Dunbar.
Al Young, North Augusta’s coach, described Hall as having an extremely strong work ethic, in terms of pursuing his goal of taking the next step in education and athletics. “He’s come into our program, worked real hard and reaped the benefits,” Young said.
“I go to the gym pretty much every day for about three or four hours,” said Hall.
“I usually ... lift on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and every day, I go to the gym and play ball or work on dribbling and shooting.”
Wilson, whose parents are Chris and Patricia Wilson, said he is planning to serve the Fire Ants as either a catcher or second-baseman.
“I’m a really good hitter, and I’ve got a decent arm, but I’ve got a really good glove, too, so I can play anywhere in the infield.”
As for goals for the next few months, Wilson said, “I need to work on just getting bigger and stronger for next year.”
He said he’s looking to focus on “some kind of engineering – either mechanical or architectural.”
Teammate JoJo Higgenbottom, who has signed to play for USC Aiken, commented on Wilson. “He’s really scrappy and he works really hard, and he’s a really good hitter and he hits for average and power, and he ... never gives up and he does what he’s supposed to do.”