Photo by Heather Middleton
By Derrick Mahone
Nikki Wilson did not think she would ever put her Forest Park maroon jersey on again after walking out of the locker room at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in early March.
The Lady Panthers had just lost to Fayette County in the Class AAAA championship game, and Wilson believed she had worn her No. 22 jersey for the last time.
Sunday, the Albany State signee will don her Forest Park road uniform one last time as she plays in Sunday's Clayton/Henry All-Star Basketball Game at Eagle's Landing High School.
"It will feel great putting it back on," Wilson said. "I didn't think I would play another game in it. I still think about that Fayette County game. I often think about what I could and should have done different."
In the Lady Panthers' 55-45 loss to Fayette County, Wilson played all 32 minutes and scored nine points with a career-high 18 rebounds.
Jonesboro senior Rasham Suarez, a two-time Region 4-AAAA Player of the Year, said he is looking forward to having some fun and playing without any pressure.
The point guard last donned his Cardinals uniform at the Gwinnett Arena as his team fell to Miller Grove in the Class AAAA semifinals. He is headed to Georgia Southern in hopes of helping the Southern Conference program.
"I'm taking it as just another game," Suarez said. "I'm not trying to impress anyone. I'm just looking to have some fun."
Suarez, who played a season at national powerhouse Findley Prep in Nevada before coming to Jonesboro, said he has started his workout program to prepare for college. He is expected to challenge for a starting position this season at Georgia Southern, which is coached by former Georgia Tech assistant Chalton Young.
"This was a pretty special year for me," Suarez said. "My junior year wasn't that good. I think I was able to teach a lot of our young guys a lot this season."
Wilson will play both volleyball and basketball at Albany State, a NCAA Div. II school that plays in the Atlanta-based Southern Intercollegiate Athletics Conference. She also held a volleyball offer from Div. II Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., but decided she wanted to play both sports.
"I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to just play volleyball in college," Wilson said. "After basketball season, I sort of made up my mind that I wasn't ready to give up either sport."