Antoine has his day

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2004

CAMDEN – The sign hanging from the Wilson Central High School cafeteria is meant to describe the hopes for the Jaguars’ athletics and academics.

The banner, which read “Stepping into the future with flavor, fortitude and fame,” also could have been used to describe one of the school’s most talented and popular former students on his special day.

Former Wilcox Central and University of Alabama basketball standout Antoine Pettway was honored for his contributions on the basketball court and in the community Tuesday during Antoine Pettway Day.

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Many of Pettway’s friends and former high school teammates, along with University of Alabama teammate Terrance Meade and Crimson Tide men’s basketball coach Mark Gottfried attended the ceremony.

A senior walk-on, Pettway led Alabama to the school’s first-ever appearance in the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament this season. Gottfried called his former point guard a special player and a great person.

“During our recruitment,” Gottfried said, “there was something about him that kept drawing me back here. No Alabama basketball team has ever gone as far as we went, and you’re looking at the guy who made it happen in Antoine Pettway.

“Good players come and go,” Gottfried added. “Great players with character rise above the rest. Antoine has been a role model not just around Tuscaloosa, but also around the country.”

Now Pettway hopes to make it happen in the National Basketball Association.

Following the ceremony marking his community and athletic contributions, Pettway announced that he planned to make himself eligible for this summer’s NBA Draft.

“I don’t even know if I’ll be drafted,” said Pettway, who currently is playing for the Kentucky Reach in the WBA. “I’m taking it as it comes right now.”

Pettway currently is second in the league in assists and in the top 10 in scoring.

Pettway also said he had interviewed two sports agents, but has yet to hire a representative.

Tuesday night wasn’t just about what Pettway has accomplished in basketball. It also was a celebration of the person he has become and the way he touched others’ lives.