Photos by Brian Paglia
Eagle’s Landing boy’s basketball coach Clay Crump (center) talks to his team at practice during a timeout. Coming off back-to-back semifinals appearance with two impressive transfers, the Golden Eagles have spent the summer getting all the pieces together for a state title run.
Chris Davenport’s biggest fear when he moved from national basketball powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida to Eagle’s Landing this summer was that he’d taken a step down.
Gone from the world of national championship tournaments, elite five-star prospects and future Division I signees for teammates, Davenport hoped he hadn’t ruined his last chance to win a state championship.
It wasn’t long before his worries were gone.
“My first practice or two I learned that Eagle’s Landing has nothing less than Montverde Academy has,” said Davenport, a rising senior. “We’ve got good guard play. We’ve got solid bigs. We have a great scorer in Eric [Wortham]. Athleticism. We play hard, play with intensity, play with heart and play together. That’s really all I did down at Montverde.”
All Eagle’s Landing has done this summer is storm through summer camp after summer camp, losing just one game while working in transfers Davenport and former Stockbridge star shooting guard Trevin Joseph.
Coming off back-to-back semifinals appearances, Eagle’s Landing has operated this summer with one goal in mind.
“We’ve just got to win it all,” rising senior point guard Isaiah Dennis. “That’s the only mindset we’ve got to have.”
“We’re just trying to win,” rising junior Jordan Sessions said. “We shouldn’t lose a game. I mean we’re loaded.”
Hard to argue with a team that lost just one senior and added two dynamic performers in Davenport and Joseph. Make that three, if you count the 6-foot-8 Sessions, who began to get significant playing time during the state tournament.
Eagle’s Landing had the look of a state title contender last season when it went 28-4, lost twice to Drew and twice to eventual state champion Columbia — including in the semifinals — all with just one senior.
When a seasoned senior core like Eagle’s Landing’s — with 6-foot-8 Desmond Ringer, Dennis and Wortham — adds pieces like Davenport, Joseph and a full-time Sessions, expectations skyrocket.
That makes this summer all the more urgent. After a steady and impressive rise to competitiveness, this senior group has but one more shot at a state title.
“That feeling of finality can bring the best out of you,” Eagle’s Landing coach Clay Crump said. “We’re hoping that’s the case with these guys.”
All indications are good so far. Eagle’s Landing is coming off a win at a summer camp at Georgia State. The Golden Eagles have competed at Mercer (where Dennis won a memorable dunk contest) and Georgia Tech.
They’ve done that with new players and a new offense, and those are no small changes.
But that’s what the summer is for.
Davenport, a 6-foot-7 high-flying forward, and Joseph, a 6-foot-4 natural scorer, each bring a unique dynamic to a court already crowded with talent and unique personalities to a roster of solid relationships.
The pick and roll offense is a stark contrast from previous years when Crump would call set plays and hope for the best.
Now is the time for tinkering, so that when the games start to count Eagle’s Landing will be ready.
“Guys and roles change every year,” Crump said. “It’s good for them and as a coach to know what they are going into next year so you can be prepared to hit the ground running.”