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McComb’s Butler tops team

During his sophomore and junior years at McComb, Jackie Butlerhas set the basketball world on fire. Standing 6-foot-10 andweighing in at 255 pounds, the star center has a made a big impacton state high school basketball. And he’s still growing.

Butler and his Tiger teammates had a great year in 2001-2002.They went all the way to the semifinals of the Boys Class 4A StateBasketball Tournament in the Mississippi Coliseum before falling toeventual state champ Lanier.

For his accomplishments, Butler has been named the Most ValuablePlayer and Mr. Basketball on The Daily Leader ‘s 2001-2002All-Area Boys Basketball team.

Joining Butler on the dream team are junior guard D.J. Carrof McComb, sophomore center Al Jefferson of Prentiss, seniorforward Richie Miller of Wesson and senior forward Jessie Taylor ofCrystal Springs.

The dream team is composed of players outside of LincolnCounty. They are selected by the Leader’s sports staff with inputprovided by the high school and area college coaches.

“It feels good,” said Butler about being named Daily LeaderMVP and Mr. Basketball. “It is a good thing. I didn’t know it wasgoing to happen.”

Butler finished the season with an average of 24.3 points,15 rebounds, 5 blocked shots, 3 assists a game. Last season as asophomore against Wingfield, he had a career high of 46 points, 31rebounds and 21 blocked shots. He shot 5 three-pointers againstWilkinson County.

Last weekend, Butler joined his AAU team in playing in LasVegas. “I did pretty good,” smiled Butler. “I scored 15 points,grabbed 14 boards and blocked four shots.”

McComb boys head coach Hilton Harrell knows a lot about bigmen in basketball after having played from the NBA down to thecoaching on the high school level.

When asked about Butler’s strong points, Harrell said, “Hisagility and his mobility. He’s a winner He is a natural winner.He’s unselfish.”

Butler complimented his coach. “He (Harrell) has worked withme,” said Butler. “I got better.”

Butler agreed with Harrell’s observation. “I give the ballup,” he said. “I’m not selfish with the ball.” While his teammatesare shooting, it gives him the opportunity to grab one of the manyrebounds he collects every game. And you can be sure that Butlerwill be knocking down the shots when the chance comes.

Mention dunking to Butler and you get a smile. That’s notdunking donuts he smiles about, but basketballs.

Butler has had to deal with the national media due to hissuccess and has managed to keep his head on straight. “It isgreat,” he smiled about the attention he has received.

When asked about next year’s Tiger team, Butler stated,”We’re going to be better. We are going to work veryhard.”

D.J. Carr (6-2, jr.) was the go-to guy with jumpshots and three pointers for McComb. Carr averaged 17 points duringthe season. Carr was even better on defense, sticking to opponentsand preventing him from scoring.

Richie Miller (6-3, sr.) provided first-year Wessonboys head coach/principal Billy O. Britt with the spark in theoffense. The Cobras, 5-15, lost several one and two point games asthey improved during the season. Miller averaged 16 points, 10rebounds, 6 steals and 3 assists per game.

Al Jefferson (6-8, sop.) is another big man playingwell for 28-5 Prentiss this season. Jefferson dominated the inside,averaging 29 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists pergame.

Jefferson has two more years with theBulldogs.

Jessie Taylor (6-4, sr.) Taylor, who plays guard,was selected for last year’s Second Team and moved up to the topsquad this season. Playing for first-year Crystal Springs headcoach Bernard Miller, the Tigers went 11-9 as Taylor averaged 18.3points and 8. 5 rebounds a game.