Selma native leads Gulf South Conference in scoring in senior season

Published 7:52 pm Saturday, June 2, 2018

Charles Eaton’s senior season with the University of West Alabama Tigers began with him winning the Gulf South Conference Player of the Week the first week of the season, and it ended with Eaton leading his team and the conference in scoring.

The 6-foot-3 guard from Selma averaged 27 points per game, and led his team in 3-pointers made (62), field goals made (251), free throws made (164) and in steals (46).

He dropped a career-high 37 on Faulkner University and Valdosta State this season, and had three games in which he made five 3-pointers.

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Eaton earned the conference’s Player of the Week honor four times this past season. He scored the most points (755), shot 50 percent from the field and was fourth in the conference in minutes per game (35.5).

Eaton’s path to his senior season at UWA was unconventional. He was a top player for Selma High under former head coach Woodie Jackson. He was ranked No.2 in the state, averaged 25 points per game and was a first-team all-region selection coming out of Selma High in 2011.

He went to Lawson State Community College before he transferred to Northwest Mississippi Junior College where he averaged 13 points per game.

In the 2014-2015 season, he joined the Tigers and averaged almost 14 points per game on 45 percent shooting.

After that season, Eaton stepped away from the game because his priorities shifted when his son Charles Jr. was born in July 2015. He sacrificed playing the game that he loved to ensure that his son was provided for.

Eaton was away from the game for two years, before he was ready to return for his senior season.

“It was a long journey,” he said. “The season really began in the pre-season. I worked really hard to get where I am now. Between the conditioning, extra shooting, late nights and not eating. I really sacrificed because I was off two years and I was really focused. I’m just fortunate enough to have a pretty good season.”

In the first game of the season, Eaton had 22 points and eight rebounds in the 85-78 win over Florida Southern. He was anxious to return to college basketball, but ended up having a great game despite the nerves.

“We won the game, but I was very nervous,” he said. “I think that was the most turnovers I had in a game this year (7). But that was a remarkable moment. Coming back in, the jitters I had and the atmosphere I was in, it was fun.”

He re-joined the Tigers, and was twice the player he was before he left. His points per game doubled. He made 24 more 3-pointers, and his field goal percentage increased from 45 to 50 percent.

Despite being the team’s leading scorer, Eaton credits his teammates and his coaches for helping his game on the floor.

“It was really like a brotherhood with these guys,” he said. “It was probably the best team I’ve played on as a whole. We had some pretty good guys from the starters to the guys on the bench.”

Eaton has been through a lot, but he’s appreciative of the opportunity that UWA gave him to return to basketball.

“The coaches did tell me how much they appreciated me for the remarkable season I had and the respect that I gave them for the time I was there,” he said. “I appreciate them as well. I wouldn’t be in the predicament I’m in today if it wasn’t for them finding me.”

Even though he took the unconventional route, Eaton was glad to be a part of the 2017-2018 Tigers team.

“I want to thank God for everything, and for the coaches giving me a chance to come back,” he said. “I want to thank my mom as well. I had a strong mom coming up, and I just want to thank her for everything she’s done.”