The talk of the town says Central High School basketball in Macon is not to be messed with, and head coach Andre Taylor is part of the reason why.
Taylor, a graduate of Tri-County High School in Buena Vista in 1993, took the job at Central in 1999 after being an assistant coach for the football program.
Last season, the Chargers put together a 27-3 season and advanced to the state quarterfinals, where they lost to South Atlanta 92-79. It was Taylor's most successful season at Central.
This season, the second-ranked Chargers (10-2) went undefeated through eight games before losing back-to-back games against Class AAAAA No. 7 Warner Robins (83-62) in the Bank Classic Holiday Tournament and Hillgrove (71-62) in the first game of the Lake City Classic.
The Chargers are led by four-year starter Antarius McCoy. McCoy, a 6-foot-2 senior, is averaging more than 20 points per game this season. He scored 40 points in a come-from-behind victory against Eastside before Christmas..
Coach Taylor took time Tuesday to answer a few questions about his team:
Q. Tell me about Xavier commitment Kentravious Jones, the high-profile transfer that left Central for Westside-Macon, then left Westside for a prep school in Connecticut.
A. You know, I always tell my guys, 'If you aren't happy here, I'll still talk with you. I'll still love you, you know. There won't be a change. But if you aren't happy, go where you'd be happy.' I still never knew the reasoning behind the transfer. Never did get that. We have texted a couple of times. I'm congratulating him on being signed and telling him good luck. But we never discussed the reasoning behind the transfer. But any time you lose a 6-10 or 6-11 (player), it will be noticed. But a lot of folks counted us out. That is what I was trying to get across to my guys; we aren't out. The community and the people around tried to make it a big deal ... or bigger than it was. The guys, the team, they still converse with him. So there are no hard feelings.
Q. What can you tell me about your team this season?
A. I am real proud of them. It has been a real quiet, well-balanced season. I am just trying to get them to play with a chip on their shoulder, so to speak. You know, people counted them out and didn't think they had a chance. We are defending region champs. We have eight seniors, and seven of those eight were on the team that went 27-3 last year. And they all got to play. So it's not like we are lacking experience, so that's good. We are led by Antarius McCoy, who has been starting since his freshmen year and he is a senior. So he has been playing really well for us this year. Guys like Tyrice Paul, Dewan Owens, Justus Williams and I had a transfer to come in, Kylan Hill. These guys have really stepped it up for us.
Q. Did you have any coaching idols growing up?
A: I was a big Dean Smith fan. I just like the way he ran the program, and I grew up watching the way he coached. But I take my style of coaching from a mixture of a Tony Dungy kind of style. I am not one to get overly excited. I am more one to talk and give speeches instead of a lot of hollering. You know that's a little football and a little basketball, but I really love the way he does things as well. I had a chance to read both of their books and those two coaches I really admired a lot.
A. With athletics, just period. I would say technology. Across the board. Back when we were in school, all we had was athletics. It was in the 1990s for me, but coming from a small town, you know, it was sports and nothing. There was nothing much else to do. But now, kids are having to work throughout seasons and face other distractions. And sometimes the technology stuff ... they want to put their minds into it, instead of being on the court.
Q. How do you think the recruiting aspect plays into that?
A. I think the kids don't understand what impact the things like Facebook and the internet can have on their future with the things they post. As far as recruiting, I could see keeping some kids from going because it says a lot about you, the stuff you put online. You have to watch out how you do that.
Class AAA boys rankings
1. Morgan County (8-3)
2. Central-Macon (9-1)
3. Greater Atlanta Christian (10-3)
4. Liberty County (8-5)
5. Westside-Macon (9-3)
6. Islands (10-3)
7. Jenkins (9-6)
8. Cedar Grove (5-4)
9. Johnson-Savannah (8-5)
10. Pace Academy (4-7)
Coming Friday : A Q&A with one of the top girls' coaches in AAA.