While they may consider basketball to be their best sport, Deontaye Ewing and Acie Vance just happen to be two talented football players.
“A lot of people tell me it’s football, but I think it’s basketball,” Vance said of his best sport.
Vance, a combo guard for the Ripley High basketball team, is a quarterback who can play a variety of positions on the gridiron. The Ripley athlete is being recruited to play college football by Mississippi State, Southern Miss and Samford.
In basketball, the 6-foot-1, 167-pound Vance has drawn interest from Florida, Middle Tennessee State, Missouri State, Murray State, University of Texas at El Paso and Wichita State.
Ewing, a shooting guard on the Tupelo High basketball team, is a cornerback “with good hips and good hands” and who “breaks on the ball really well,” says Tupelo High defensive coordinator Lamar Aldridge.
“He’ll probably get some opportunities in football if he wanted to,” added Aldridge. “He’s a pretty good athlete.”
The 6-foot, 175-pound Ewing is being recruited for basketball by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Georgia State, Middle Tennessee State, Murray State and Southeastern Louisiana, to name a few.
“There are some other schools that have inquired about him,” said Tupelo High boys basketball coach Grant Pate.
By being selected to play in this afternoon’s Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star basketball game, both Ewing and Vance are considered among Mississippi’s top 25 rising high school senior basketball players.
“As a player, there’s nothing that really stands out as a big weakness,” Pate said of Ewing.
The same could be said for Vance, an AAU teammate of Ewing’s.
Not missing a beat
Last season was Ewing’s first as a football player since his middle school days.
“I played in middle school, and I just decided to go back out there and see what I can do,” Ewing said.
He wound up starting for the Golden Wave as a corner.
“He’s a really focused young man,” Pate said. “He’s just a good athlete and he’s coachable.
“I’m not a football guru, but he contributed on the football field. He left the football field after the final game last year and came to us and didn’t miss a beat.”
Ewing averaged 16 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game last season as a junior. That was good enough to earn him second-team Daily Journal All-Area honors.
“He really shoots the ball well, and he’s worked extremely hard at shooting the basketball,” Pate said. “He’s a good defender, and he can guard different positions on defense.”
Another second-team all-area selection was Vance, who competed alongside Ewing in Friday night’s MAC All-Star 3-point contest. He scored 21 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out five assists and recorded three steals per game this past season.
In primarily a rushing offense, the Ripley standout threw for 607 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 673 yards and 11 scores during the 2009 regular season.
“I’d think about it,” Vance said about possibly playing just one sport in high school, “but everybody wants me to play football. I do like to keep my choices open.”
Although Tupelo head football coach David Bradberry had Ewing in mind when he spoke of a bright future, his following comments, nonetheless, seemed to sum up best the athletic futures of both Ewing and Vance.
“He’s a heckuva of an athlete,” Bradberry said. “He’s got a bright future ahead of him whatever he decides to do. I think it’s just going to be a matter of how this season goes and who’s interested in him.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal