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Prose and Kohn: Bring it on

Collegiate athletes represent Sarasota in winter sports, especially basketball

Brion Whitley is making a comeback from a leg injury that caused him to miss the 2019-2020 season. Photo courtesy Dave Winder - Murray State Athletics.
Brion Whitley is making a comeback from a leg injury that caused him to miss the 2019-2020 season. Photo courtesy Dave Winder - Murray State Athletics.
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Congratulations, folks. 

We made it to the final month of 2020. 

That's something worthy of pride. It has not been easy for anyone. We've persevered.

Life still may not be the way it was pre-pandemic for a while, but there are things going on that can remind us of what those times feel like. Sports are included in that. The fall season is over, at least for local high schools, and winter sports are now going at full speed. 

So are college sports, and the area has quite a few college athletes worth watching as the winter chills set in. 

Riverview High boys basketball alumnus Brion Whitley is back and on a mission. After playing well in limited minutes off the bench as a freshman and sophomore at Murray State, Whitley was supposed to take a massive leap in year three, with graduations opening up large amount of playing time, potentially even a starting spot. Instead, Whitley missed all of 2019-2020 with a leg injury that forced him to take a medical redshirt. 

It was a disappointing outcome, but as anyone who knows Whitley could have guessed, he was not going to let that stop him. Whitley, now a redshirt junior, is healthy  better than ever. He earned a starting spot in the team’s seasoning-opening win against Greenville (Division III). Whitley had seven points, five assists and three rebounds in the team’s record-setting 173-95 victory. He could have had more, too, but the Racers spread their minutes around to get everyone some playing time in the blowout win; he recorded his stats in 12 on-court minutes.

The Racers play Austin Peay at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 on ESPN+. It's a great chance to see Whitley's comeback journey for yourself. 

Fellow Riverview boys basketball alum AJ Caldwell is seeing minutes at Tennessee-Chattanooga. The Mocs have played two games, but Caldwell, a redshirt junior,  played in both. He had nine points, eight rebounds and five assists against Lander (Division II) on Nov. 25 and three against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 30.

Caldwell shot approximately 40% from 3-point range last season, making him an asset to the Mocs. If he can keep that number up, he should see his playing time continue to climb. The Mocs play at Middle Tennessee on Monday. 

Even more basketball players, such as former Sarasota High girls guard Imani Jones (Northwest Florida) and former Booker High boys guard Jordan Clark (State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota) will also be playing this season, though their seasons have not yet started. 

There’s more happening than on the hardwood. Swimming, too, is starting up. Riverview alum Austin Katz is entering his senior season at Texas. He’s coming off a Big 12 Championship win in the 200 backstroke (1:39.17) and a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke (45.85). 

After last season’s NCAA Championships were canceled because of the pandemic, Katz will begin the long road to this season’s championships (and 2021’s Olympic Trials) this week, with the Texas Hall of Fame Swimming Invitational. No matter what happens, Katz has had a great career at Texas.

This isn't a comprehensive list by any means, but it is a start. If nothing else, it's wroth remembering that there are people representing the Sarasota area well on a national stage. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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