GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) ? When facing Gadsden State, Shelton State head basketball coach Barry Mohun said the most important thing his players needed to know was where the Cardinals' Will Ginn was on the court. Last January, knowing where he was made little difference.
Ginn played the signature game of his junior college career ? scoring 20 points by beating his man to the basket, pulling up and hitting 3's and finding a way to get to the free throw line, all while dishing out 14 assists ? as Gadsden State upset the previously undefeated and third-ranked Buccaneers, 83-76, in Tuscaloosa.
"He did what he wanted to do in that game," Mohun said. "He's one of those players that can do so much.
Ginn made it hard on the rest of the Alabama Community College Conference, as well, and for that reason, he is the 2006 Alabama Sports Writers Association Junior College Athlete of the Year. He will be honored Monday at the ASWA's annual banquet in Auburn.
Ginn is the second athlete from Gadsden State to win the honor. Daniel Hill won in 2002 when he led the nation in home runs.
Ginn, a 6-foot-1 point guard, was second in the ACCC in scoring, averaging 18.5 points, and he led the nation with 10.1 assists per game. He also was second in the ACCC in free throw percentage (87.2), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.9) and seventh in 3-point shots made per game (2.3).
As a result, he was named National Junior College Athletic Association All-America, ACCC All-Region and the Northern League Most Valuable Player.
"I'm honored," he said upon learning about the award from the ASWA. "It's nothing I would have expected."
Ginn, who has a 3.86 grade-point average, is pursuing a degree in secondary education with a double major in mathematics and physical education with the hopes of eventually becoming a basketball coach, following in the footsteps of his father Larry, one of the state's most successful coaches at Alexandria High.
He will continue his career at Jacksonville State University in the fall, but Gadsden State Coach Hal Davidson said the Gamecocks could have had the former Alexandria High School standout for four years instead of two.
Originally, Ginn wanted to go to JSU, but when a scholarship was not readily available, the Cardinals' coach said he got a most welcome, yet unexpected phone call.
"Will was a gift," said Davidson, who also coached Ginn's brothers Scott and Todd. "We didn't even recruit him. He decided to come over here and test the waters for two years to see what it might reveal down the road."
A natural leader and coach on the court, Ginn's two years with the Cardinals yielded 41 Gadsden State victories and the first back-to-back 20-win seasons in more than a decade.
Davidson said Ginn is the best player he has coached in his nine years at Gadsden State and expects to see more of the same when he suits up at JSU.
"He's going to go over there and do the same thing he did here," Davidson said. "His coach, his teammates are going to love him. He's going to be the best player on that team and before it's over, the best in the OVC."