0320-PJ Eason2.jpg

Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Dadeville's PJ Eason, center, was not only a leading scorer and rebounder but he also led the Tigers in steals this season.

For the second year in a row, Dadeville’s boys basketball team will be represented at the AHSAA North-South All-Star game, which is scheduled to be played this summer.

Eason has been on the statewide radar for quite some time as he also competed in the first-ever AHSAA Elite 100 showcase last summer. Wednesday, the North-South basketball rosters were announced by Jamie Lee, director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association.

“It means a lot to me,” Eason said. “I really get to just see that the work that I’ve been putting in is actually paying off.”

Standing at 6-foot-9, Eason has been a stud for the Tigers since he was a freshman and it’s unsurprising he’ll perform in the North-South game, which is reserved for the top 30 rising seniors across the state.

“That’s great and it’s back to back that we’ve had someone there,” Dadeville coach Jesse Foster said. “He’s well deserving to make it because he’s worked his tail off. He’s had a few injuries here and there and it slowed him down a little bit but he never stopped. He’s worked so hard during practice and he’s always working his tail off.”

Eason said he had a slight tear in his patella prior to the season and he also dislocated his shoulder during a game this year. But it was the motivation of helping his team that kept Eason going. Dadeville had one of its best seasons in recent memory, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state tournament.

“It was hard most of the time but I tried to fight through it because I know my team needs me,” Eason said. “They were really my motivation. My shoulder really bothered me a little bit during workouts and stuff and I couldn’t be 100% but I fought through it by stretching, icing and just remembering that the team needed me. It hurt but that’s what a player does when they want to win.”

Eason averaged 10.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season to go along with an average of 2.3 assists. He also had nearly a 48.2 shooting percentage and led the Tigers with 54 blocks and 82 steals.

But with his senior year coming up and recruiting still up in the air, Eason is going to use his time at the North-South game to soak up everything he can.

“I feel like I can learn a lot really,” Eason said. “I can just take it in. What I learn, I’ll take it into next season and show my teammates too.”

Foster said, “He’s going to learn that them guys are just as big and tall as he is. He has to be smart not just be 6-9. He’s gotta learn to use his height in a smart way.”

Because the North-South rosters are chosen amongst all schools in the AHSAA, players are typically picked from smaller classifications. But being from a 3A school hasn’t stopped Dadeville from being on the map — at least the last two years.

“I hope that this gives incentive to my young guys too,” Foster said. “(The game) is for upcoming seniors, so they have a few years to learn, but it’s just great for Dadeville High School and the community of Dadville. It speaks a lot about the program.”

And Eason is certainly hoping to represent the Tigers well.

“This means a lot because people barely know about Dadeville and I’m just ready to show them what we’ve got,” Eason said.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.