Frankie’s time

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 15, 2007

Uniontown celebrates local basketball prodigy

BY Victor Inge

The Selma Times-Journal

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UNIONTOWN – Every now and then a young person comes along who raises the bar for himself and those around him.

In this rural Perry County town with unemployment among the highest in the state, there is still something to cheer about – R.C. Hatch basketball.

If past performances are indicative of future results, Frankie Sullivan Jr. can carry the load. With a 3.2 grade point average, four state championships and a wealth of experience and talent on the basketball court, he hopes to sign a scholarship in the next few weeks.

“That’s just the way I want to handle it,” Sullivan said in a telephone interview. He was out of state this week doing what he loves. “I don’t want the stress of recruiters during my senior year.”

Sullivan has been to the Peach Jam, an AAU summer basketball tournament held in Augusta, Ga., where he played with his Alabama Lasers squad.

“We lost all three games. No rebounds were killing us,” said Sullivan, who is a stranger to losing. His Bobcat squad didn’t lose a game at home (12-0) this past year on the way to a 25-4 record and a state championship.

Sullivan said he would like to major in physical therapy, which most coaches know already. Who’s been coming to call?

“Just about every coach in the SEC, and a bunch of them in the ACC,” he said. “It really doesn’t matter. I’m going to make a decision then get on with my senior year. We’ve got a lot of young players, and I want to concentrate on getting the young people out, teaching as much as I can and keeping the tradition at Hatch going.”

Others have recognized his potential. Heading into his senior year he is already getting calls from Division I schools including Virginia, Missouri, Alabama, Auburn, Georgetown, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Minnesota and Miami.

Sullivan has played varsity basketball since he was a seventh grader, and has been a part of four state 2A titles. He has an opportunity to win five state championships, a feat Hatch basketball coach Homer Davis says is rare.

Davis recognized Sullivan’s talent early. He began as a ball boy with Davis as a third grader.

He comes from a basketball family. Coach Eugene Mason coached Frankie Sr., and Davis coached Sullivan’s two sisters, and his mother, Diane.

“Frankie’s an all around player,” Davis said. “He does it all. We want him to be an All-American. We don’t just think basketball. Frankie is an honor student. We want our students to get a career and provide for their families. We lost four seniors from last year’s team. All four of them are going on to something greater.”

William Cook signed a basketball scholarship to play at Lawson State. Calvin Pope, who won four state championships in his career at Hatch, signed to play with Lawson St. Antwain Starks, a starter from last year’s team, has enlisted in the U.S. Army. Kejuan Brooks, last year’s class valedictorian, accepted an academic scholarship to Alabama State University.

Uniontown Mayor Phillip White said when you speak of basketball in the state of Alabama, R.C. Hatch High School always comes up. The winning ways of the Bobcats give the entire community a sense of pride.

‘Frankie is a great kid, and he comes from a great family,” White said. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch him mature. He’s become a real team player and a leader. He has the potential to go to the next level.”

Hatch has birthed a number of basketball players. Among them are Erwin Dudley, the former Crimson Tide standout now playing in Turkey. Dudley was a lock as a high draft choice in the NBA, but a knee injury caused a detour to Europe in 2005.

Davis has no doubt Sullivan is bound for greatness.

“When he was in the seventh grade the varsity players would come to practice and watch him,” Davis said. “Coach Mason came to watch him and after practice he told me he wanted my entire starting five to move up to the varsity. Frankie and his cousin, Eric Sullivan, moved up to the varsity.

“It was a great move for Frankie. He was in seventh grade and I saw him take over a championship game in 2004.”

Davis said he is most pleased with Sullivan’s work ethic and Christian values.

“God gives all good and perfect gifts,” Davis said. “Before games we’ll be praying, and we’ll have to wait for him to finish before we go out.”