For four years, Willie Clayton was Thomasville High’s big man on campus.
That distinction now belongs to 6-foot-5 junior Andrew Parker.
Following the graduation of Clayton, the Bulldogs needed a post player to step up in his absence. Parker has filled in admirably as Thomasville’s starting center.
“He played really well in a game in Brunswick. He had 21 points, five blocks and almost 10 rebounds,” Thomasville coach Ben Tillman said. “That was a huge step for him coming into the Hoopfest. I think the next game he had 14 (points). I think he’s really doing a great job, continuing to progress.
“He’s just coming along.”
Thomasville fans have been spoiled in recent years with Clayton and Robert Carter — both Division I players — on the Bulldogs’ roster. While it may be tempting to think Parker would follow in their footsteps, Tillman cautioned against it. In Tillman’s mind, “It’s a process.”
“He just needs to improve on his consistency and being dominant in the paint,” Tillman said. “I think we can’t compare him to Willie, Robert, Dunnell (Webb) and DeMarcus Webb and all those other bigs that were here. You can’t compare him to them. He has to learn that he has to be Andrew Parker, not Willie Clayton, not Robert Carter. Once he understands what his role is and what his job is, I think he’ll be fine with it and not try to live up to the prestige of the other players.
“I think the fans and family members and loved ones anticipated him to be dominating like all the other bigs that came along. As a coach, you need to understand that all kids and all players have to grow up into their own and be their own players,” Tillman added. “That’s what I’m encouraging him to do.”
For full details, see Thursday's edition of the Times-Enterprise.