Jag Nation’s basketball team has been riding high the past two seasons with a final four appearance in 2016 followed by their state runner-up finish in 2017. Unfortunately, Cedar lost 11 seniors last year including Phlan Fleming, Stavion Stevenson, AJ Jones, and Quenjarvis (Snipe) Hall, all key starters who led the Jaguars over their rise to become an elite basketball program.
New sophomores Quincy Canty and Tyler Johnson look to take their talents to Cedar Shoals’ roster this season and diminish the loss of last year’s seniors.
Canty, a power forward/center, was born in Boston, Massachusetts and traveled throughout the Northeast before moving to Georgia. Canty arrives at Cedar Shoals after spending one year at Athens Christian for his freshman campaign. He’s no stranger to the East side, having spent previous years at Hilsman Middle School.
Canty fell in love with hoops at four years old.
“Just from coming from the north, that’s more of a basketball area, I just found interest in it,” said Canty. “It is more of my comfort zone. I can go play in order to feel right,” said Canty. “It’s just something I enjoy doing.”
Johnson, a versatile guard who can play both positions, has also cherished basketball since his early years.
“I just stuck with it and got better” said Johnson. Born and raised in Athens, he attended Coile Middle School before going to Athens Christian his 8th and 9th grade years.
The arrival of these two talents at Cedar Shoals shows that area players may no longer be looking at private schools for the best coaches. Head Basketball Coach L’Dreco Thomas has earned attention as ABH Boys Basketball Coach of the Year, Region 5-A Boys Basketball Coach of the Year, and Best of Preps Area Coach of the Year.
“I’m actually coaching at my own alma mater,” said Coach Thomas. “It’s a good feeling to work with young people, and get them to accomplish things that they may not known they could accomplish.”
Coming from Athens Christian, both Canty and Johnson look at Cedar Shoals’ program, and Thomas, in a different light.
“He (Thomas) pushes us to the limits and he wants us to be the best we can be,” said Canty talking about Coach Thomas.
“The coach now pushes us harder,” said Johnson.
“Coach Thomas plays with a certain tempo, which means you have to give your all, and more than just being a general athlete,” said Athletic Director Antonio Derricotte.
As preseason conditioning leads into tryouts, Coach Thomas focuses on getting to know new players before they hit the court.
“I have them in weight training. They work extremely hard, and they’re getting stronger,” said Coach Thomas.Both Johnson and Canty participated in the optional preseason conditioning program.
“They’ve emerged as leaders so far. Those are good signs,” said Thomas.
Both Canty and Johnson have been cleared to play via Georgia High School Association guidelines.
“GHSA makes sure students don’t try to move just for sports,” said Derricotte. “If you’re a member of GHSA, you still have to go through a process where your eligibility has to be checked, you have to look over grades to make sure they’ve been maintained, and you look at a change in addresses and residences,” said Derricotte.
The main reason Canty and Johnson decided to come to Cedar wasn’t basketball. “I chose to came to Cedar Shoals is that it’s closer to my house so it’d be easier to get to school” said Canty. “I was living on the east side of town,” said Johnson.
“The (basketball) program here is way better” Canty added.
The main priority is easing the transition for Tyler and Quincy into Cedar Shoals.
“We want to ensure they’re comfortable here, and they get the student part down,” said Coach Thomas.
“It’s about meeting the brand of what Cedar Shoals high school is, through hard work, integrity, and doing what the right thing is,” said Derricotte.
As for Quincy and Tyler, they’ve set goals for themselves that hoping Cedar Shoals can help them reach those goals easier.
“I plan going to college, try to go to Florida State, and go from there” said Johnson.
“I plan to go to college, and hopefully if I can, the NBA. I have to work for it, I just can’t get it,” said Canty.