Ellwood Christian Academy forward is Selma Times Journal’s player of the year

Published 5:04 pm Thursday, March 21, 2019

Forward Justin Bufford wants to leave a legacy behind at Ellwood Christian Academy.

Bufford, The Selma Times-Journal’s boys’ basketball player of the year, wants to win a Class 1A state championship at ECA and earn a Division I scholarship. The junior has one more year to accomplish those goals.

At the moment, Bufford is enjoying the honor of being named the top prep player in Dallas County. He averaged 22 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots a game for the Eagles.

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“It’s another blessing that God keeps showing me,” Bufford said. “I want to give all the glory to God. I’ll tell the guys on the team that whatever you put into the game of basketball is what you get out of it. I tell them to stay humble.”

Bufford said his mother, Beverly Smith, is his motivation to succeed on and off the court.

ECA coach Willie Shears said Bufford’s value goes beyond his muscular six-foot-six frame and statistics.

“Justin’s a great young man,” Shears said. “He’s a good student and a good all-around kid. He was reading to the Elementary School students the other day. I thank God I was able to meet his family.”

Bufford is the key to ECA winning a state title. When Bufford got into foul trouble at the 1A Southwest Regional semifinals, the Eagles were unable to come back without him. Bufford tried to rally the Eagles from the bench against St. Luke’s on Feb. 14 at Alabama State University.

“You have to be a leader and take control,” Bufford said. “You can’t always be a follower. Sometimes in life, you get hit with difficult situations. You must have control and take over the situation.”

Bufford will have an opportunity to impress Division I scouts at the Alabama All-Star Basketball game on July 17 at Alabama State University. He was selected to play for the South All-Star squad.

Troy University, UAB and Tennessee State are among the schools that has expressed interest in Bufford, who’s on track to meeting NCAA freshmen eligibility requirements. He has a 3.36 GPA and 17 ACT score. He needs a 18 on the ACT to qualify academically.

“It’s a true honor and blessing to play in the All-Star game,” Bufford said.