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Five Big Bend athletes sign NLIs to close the June signing period

These seniors may have graduated a month earlier, but they were still at their high schools and at the restaurant to continue their athletic career.

Five Big Bend athletes signed National Letters of Intent. These athletes were eager for a new chapter and wanted to close one chapter. Many of them had a profound influence on their teams.

These five athletes will compete in the fall.

Lincoln: Cayden Bevis, Binghamton wrestling

Cayden Bevis, 2022 All-Big Bend Wrestler Champion from Lincoln, had intended to end his high school wrestling career. He wasn’t happy about the way his career at Lincoln ended. He had originally planned to go to Florida State to end his competitive wrestling career. 

He began to realize how important wrestling was for his life. He didn’t want to let disappointment stop him enjoying the sport. 

“After a while, I realized I can’t let that disappointment hold me back,” Bevis said. “I can’t let that stop me from enjoying wrestling. That moment was the moment I realized I needed to keep wrestling in my life.” 

Bevis will be traveling upstate New York in the fall to wrestle for Binghamton University. He is one the only Big Bend wrestlers to compete in Division I. Bevis said he was proud to be a member of that group, as wrestling isn’t as popular in the southeast than elsewhere in the United States. 

Bevis’ senior season was a great success with Lincoln. He was 46-2 and the state runner-up in the 195 weight class. He was the Trojans’ most successful individual and led them to the best finish in Big Bend by any team. 

“These four years have meant everything to me,” Bevis said. “It’s completely changed how I’ve thought about everything. My mental fortitude has been formed by wrestling and I think that will help me a lot in other aspects of my life.” 

More:Lincoln’s state runner up Bevis was named Wrestlers of the Year. Crowder was named Coaches for the Year

Rickards: Tabor College basketball: Kent Carroll and Chase Hudson, Community Christian College basketball. Hillsborough College Basketball, Shared Ross

Rickards basketball players Kent Carroll (Tabor College), Chase Hudson (Community Christian College) and Shareed Ross (Hillsborough Community College) all signed National Letters of Intent on June 29, 2022, at Rickards High School.

Rickards’ tradition of sending its basketball players on to college level was continued by three Rickards seniors who signed up to play college basketball in Kansas and Florida.

Carroll was the one outlander out of the bunch, signing with Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas, which is about 50 miles north of Witchita. Carroll described it as feeling like love when the coaches reached out to him. They reminded Carroll of a lot of home. They reminded Carroll of his high school coaches. 

Caroll plans to study criminal law at Tabor and play basketball. 

“I feel great,”Caroll said. “All the work I’ve been putting in feels like it’s finally paying off.” 

Carroll began his basketball career in Florida High. After that, he moved to Rickards. Carroll was a part the 2020 state championship team’s first season and is now one of the few remaining members of that team. He is a 2022 All-Big Bend first-team selection, posting  20.3 points per game, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. 

“I really didn’t like my journey at first, but now I’ve just got to embrace it,”Carroll said. “I’m going to do big things when I get there, so I’m ready to be the underdog. I’m looking forward to the competition. They’re bigger and faster, so I just want to see if I can take it.”

Rickards basketball players Kent Carroll (Tabor College), Chase Hudson (Community Christian College) and Shareed Ross (Hillsborough Community College) all signed National Letters of Intent on June 29, 2022, at Rickards High School.

Carroll will travel to Kanas to meet his teammates, but Ross, Hudson and their families will stay close to home. Ross will be attending Hillsborough Community College, Tampa. Ross had been in touch over the years with the coaching staff. It felt right for him sing with them.

“I get another opportunity to present myself on the floor and keep playing,” Ross said. “I get another opportunity to extend my education too.” 

Ross averaged 6.9 points per game this past season for the Raiders, standing as one of the top point-getters for the Raiders. Ross admitted that it was difficult to explain his high-school experience. Ross plans on pursuing a technology-based education.

Rickards basketball players Kent Carroll (Tabor College), Chase Hudson (Community Christian College) and Shareed Ross (Hillsborough Community College) all signed National Letters of Intent on June 29, 2022, at Rickards High School.

Hudson was the last signee. He will attend Community Christian College, Fort Lauderdale. CCC provided him with the best academic and athletic opportunities, as well as the chance to study business at CCC. He also wants a little further from Tallahassee.

Hudson averaged 6.2 points per game for the Raiders last season and has been a part of the Rickards program for all four years. His time at Rickards was a blessing. Hudson is also thankful to have a mentor like his mother, Chariya Davis, who is the girls’ basketball coach at Rickards.

“She’s meant a lot to me,”Hudson said. “She’s really pushed me and expressed to me that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.” 

Leon: Antrinesha Johnson, Lincoln Trail College basketball

Leon's Antrinesha Johnson signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Lincoln Trail College in Illinois on June 30, 2022, at Leon High School.

Johnson signed her contract at Lincoln Trail College in Illinois last Thursday. This marked the end to a busy week of signings around the Big Bend. Johnson has been through a lot. Johnson originally wanted to be in the military, but circumstances changed and she ended up playing basketball. 

“Basketball is something I’d love to wake up every day to do,”Johnson stated. “I didn’t want to fail in life, so I was just giving out my alternatives in life, but I know basketball is where my heart is at. This is what I want to get up every day and do.”

More:Leon girls basketball trio signs letters of intent to collegiate; all will play for Alabama junior colleges

Leon University gave Johnson his degree in three years. Johnson excelled academically. Because Johnson loves math, she plans on studying accounting or business. Johnson will be playing at the college-level, and she’ll be attending Lincoln Trail with a full-ride scholarship. 

She also values the chance to continue her professional career, which is something that not many people have.

Leon's Antrinesha Johnson signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Lincoln Trail College in Illinois on June 30, 2022, at Leon High School.

“Not everybody comes across opportunities like this,”Johnson stated. “It’s basically like a full ride. Not a lot of people come across something like this.” 

Johnson caps an exciting month for Leon’s senior girls basketball team. Six Lions players were signed to NLIs by the Lions. This makes them the only girls’ team to sign this many players. Leon’s girls’ basketball singing period ranks alongside programs like Lincoln football, Gadsden County soccer, and other schools that have signed a large amount of students this school year.

“Ever since I’ve come to Leon, it’s just been amazing,”Johnson stated. “The culture, my teammates, and the chemistry that we all have. I’m the last one to sign, and it just feels amazing. I’m just so happy.” 

Jack Williams covers prep sports for Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @jackgwilliams. 

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