Overlooked Aaron Strong, Farragut knock off Kenwood

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Farragut’s Aaron Strong (1) dribbles past Kenwood’s defender, Thursday 02-07-19. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Aaron Strong has been one of the top scorers in the city for the past three seasons, but that hasn’t led to a plethora of college offers. Until last week he didn’t have a single one.

“He’s been outplaying all of these guys with offers,” Farragut coach William Nelson said. “But they are big AAU guys, politicking all year long. I don’t do AAU.”

The Admirals had a similar situation two years ago when Kawanise Wilkins was clearly one of the area’s top players but had no offers. He wound up having to go to a junior college despite being an academic qualifier. Wilkins is a sophomore at Western Michigan now. He starts and is averaging 7.4 points and five rebounds.

Strong won’t have to go to a junior college. Detroit Mercy stepped up and offered him a scholarship over the weekend.

“That took such a load off,” Strong said. “It made me feel good. I’m still underrated but I have the offer now. I’m waiting for more and I’m going to keep pushing. There won’t be any let off. I’d been playing for an offer, trying to be perfect. Now I can play my game. I don’t have to worry about everyone telling me what I need to do to get colleges to offer.”

There wasn’t any let off on Thursday. Strong scored 22 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead the No. 21 Admirals to a 66-55 win against visiting Kenwood in the second round of the Public League playoffs. PUBLIC LEAGUE PLAYOFF BRACKET.

Farragut (17-6) led 25-7 after the first quarter.

“They weren’t ready,” Strong said. “I don’t think any team is ready for our physicality. When we ran up against Bogan they weren’t ready. We come out and play hard every single game.”

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Donavan Jones had 14 points and six rebounds and his brother Johnathan added 12 points for the Admirals, which out-rebounded the Broncos 35-27.

“Even though we are smaller we are aggressive and we block out and we usually out-rebound the other team,” Nelson said.

Kenwood cut the lead to 61-55 on a basket by Nuri Knighten with 39 seconds to play. Strong got to the basket and was fouled on Farragut’s next two possessions. He made 3 of 4 free throws to seal the win.

Seryee Lewis, a 6-8 junior who recently visited Illinois, led the Broncos (13-10) with 14 points and six rebounds. Senior Artese Stapleton scored 13 and Roland McCoy added 11.

Nelson has been the head coach at Farragut for 36 years. He maybe the only person to ever go from coaching an NBA All-Star (Kevin Garnett) to coaching the sophomore team. He’s pulling double duty this season.

“The sophomore head coaches are always surprised, wondering what I’m doing,” Nelson said. “I just want the younger kids to learn what we like to run and be ready to contribute on varsity. We only have 19 players in the program, so I’m just coaching them all.”

The Admirals will face top-ranked Curie in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Nelson is hopeful that senior Edmund Forrest, his top defender, returns from injury in time for the game.

“We played well against them in the summer,” Strong said. “We will show up and play hard. Someone has to win and someone has to lose.”

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