Eagle Elite Boys Basketball: Duo carries Cordova

Chatman, Willingham named Players of the Year

By W. BRIAN HALE, Eagle Sports Writer
Posted 4/9/18

Cordova’s Isaac Chatman and Jayce Willingham racked up the individual accolades in their efforts to help the Blue Devils win the program’s first state basketball championship.

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Eagle Elite Boys Basketball: Duo carries Cordova

Chatman, Willingham named Players of the Year

Posted

Cordova’s Isaac Chatman and Jayce Willingham racked up the individual accolades in their efforts to help the Blue Devils win the program’s first state basketball championship.

As cornerstones to Cordova’s offensive and defensive efforts for the 2017-18 season, the two seniors were involved in virtually every play the team made — from making clutch shots in the final minute of regulation, to grabbing key rebounds or setting critical screens allowing teammates score.

Chatman and Willingham are the Daily Mountain Eagle Elite co-Players of the Year.

Along with fellow senior Demetrius Kirk, Chatman and Willingham entered their final year at Cordova with deep experience — having been part of the Blue Devils’ previous two state tournament teams.

Outside of the daunting challenge of helping the team navigate through one of the state’s toughest schedules and making a return trip to the AHSAA Final Four, the duo needed to help newcomers develop and hone chemistry on the court.

Chatman and Willingham showed they were up to the challenge.

“Isaac and Jayce were so good — not just part of the season, but all year-long. The performance was never limited to one offensive or defensive category. They knew how to play together. To get two guys who are that gifted to be able to play together is very rare and they made it look like a work of art,” Cordova head coach Heath Burns said.

“With them, we knew we had a chance in every game because they knew how to break you down methodically. They were also each other’s strength. If Jayce was having a bad game, Isaac would step his up. If Isaac struggled, Jayce took his game up to another level. I don’t know of two guys on any team that did as much as Isaac and Jayce did.”

Both Chatman and Willingham averaged a double-double in scoring and rebounding.

Chatman, more proficient on the boards, scored 21.1 points per game with 12.6 rebounds. Willingham, with a slight edge in scoring, had 22.8 points per game with 10.7 rebounds.

Both have also been nominated to Class 4A’s highest individual award — Player of the Year.

For Chatman, who has been nominated for the Player of the Year award for the third time, the final accolade would represent the perfect end to his storied career.

Starting in the seventh grade at Parrish, Chatman has been a part of six consecutive Walker County Tournament championship, four Northwest Regional and four Final Four teams. His individual awards this season included the Most valuable Player in the Northwest Regional Tournament and Final Four.

Willingham, who has received his first nomination for Player of the Year, has been on three consecutive Walker County Tournament championship, four Northwest Regional and four Final Four teams. He contributed to the state record books as well. His 56-point performance against South Lamar, as well as his free-throw percentage for a season and his career are all listed in the state records — and his 94.4 percent free throw shooting (also against South Lamar) is fourth all-time in state history.

Beyond the scope of their outstanding play, Burns stated that Chatman and Willingham’s leadership abilities were equally as valuable to the team as their contributions on the scoreboard.

“They’re two great kids and when leaders with character show a good work ethic, others will follow you — that’s what we had with Isaac and Jayce. Communities, schools, faculties, administration — they will all follow and enjoy that,” Burns said.

“They made so many things happen this year for Cordova High School and all for the better. They knew their role as leaders as they excelled at it as much as they did when making plays.”

———

2018 Eagle Elite

First Team

Cordova: Isaac Chatman

Cordova: Jayce Willingham

Meek: Jacob Woodard

Oakman: Skylar Hice

Carbon Hill: Landon Bice

Cordova: Demetrius Kirk

———

Second Team

Carbon Hill: Braden Wright

Oakman: Christian Hubbard

Dora: Brent Geeter

Meek: Luke Sherer

Sumiton Chr.: Judson Laird

Jasper: Devin Harris

———

Honorable Mention

Addison: Logan Wilkins; Carbon Hill: Isaac Woodard and Jon Michael Madison; Cordova: Kam Cooper; Curry: Reed Bailey and RJ Richardson; Dora: Jacory Woods; Jasper: Ethan Walker; Lynn: Noah Jackson; Meek: Payton Key and Caleb Aaron; Sumiton Christian: Isaiah Wright