Jun. 10—HENDERSON — Three key components towards the recent success of Henderson Collegiate’s basketball program in Javonte Waverly, Akhiris Holden and Jashea Hart formally signed their letters of intent on Wednesday afternoon to play in college.
Head coach George Marshall praised the three seniors for all the hard work they have put into Henderson Collegiate over the past several years and knows that they will each find success regardless of the field they choose to pursue.
“This is as good of a feeling that you can have as a coach,” Marshall said. “I really would trade every win and championship I’ve had to make sure the senior classes went to college and were able to set themselves up to be great men. I’m really proud of what they’ve accomplished and I can’t wait to see what they do going forward.”
The contributions that Waverly, Holden and Hart made for Henderson Collegiate helped the program win three consecutive North Central Athletic 1A Conference titles as well as a share of the NCHSAA 1A State Championship back in 2020.
Marshall firmly believes that the trio can carve out substantial roles within their respective programs but he wants them to be more focused on their education so that they can build a strong foundation for themselves after graduation.
“I would love to see all three of them be Academic All-Americans,” Marshall said. “I want to see these three push themselves with internships, jobs and things that will build great character. Things will be more challenging going forward but they’ve put in so much here that there’s no question that all of them will be able to do the same in college.”
Serving as one of Henderson Collegiate’s top contributors on offense, Waverly will be joining UNC-Pembroke’s men’s basketball program beginning in the fall.
Waverly said that the decision to choose UNC-Pembroke was an easy one for him, as he believes the school embodies many of the same qualities that made him feel comfortable at Henderson Collegiate.
“I’ve been in this community of Henderson for the past 17 years and I’m grateful to get out of it and go to college,” Waverly said. “I feel at home at Pembroke just like I did [at Henderson Collegiate] and that’s why I chose them.”
The youngest of five children, Waverly has always possessed a strong passion for basketball and said that competing against his older brother served as his inspiration for putting in the extra work towards becoming a better player.
Waverly’s determination was always on full display each time he took to the basketball court. He finished his career at Henderson Collegiate with 1,562 points and an average of 15.3 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game and 3.3 assists per game.
Waverly did not envision putting up those numbers with Henderson Collegiate only a handful of years ago but said that buying into Marshall’s selfless ‘we over me’ culture and embracing a leadership role helped him and his teammates reach milestones that included winning a state championship.
“In my ninth-grade year, we weren’t even in a conference and went 14-14,” Waverly said. “We got in the gym and Coach Marshall had us put the work in every day during the summer and now we’ve had three great years back-to-back.”
Waverly remains undecided on his major but is considering a minor in mass communication.
Holden has committed to play for Cape Fear Community College in 2021 following a breakout campaign for Henderson Collegiate last year that saw him average 20.2 ppg and 9.0 rpg.
Holden was proud of the progress that he made as a player in 2020 despite having to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and he is determined to continue his development when he settles into his new environment in a few months.
“This is a really good feeling knowing that I’m playing somewhere at the next level,” Holden said. “Being able to see all of the hard work I’ve put in since my eighth-grade year until now pay off is amazing.”
Holden admitted that he initially did not take basketball seriously until shortly before his freshman year when Marshall approached him and said that he could make an impact for the team if he worked on his versatility and ball-handling over the summer.
Marshall’s motivation paid dividends for Holden, as he gradually became one of Henderson Collegiate’s most dynamic threats on both ends of the floor. He joined Waverly as a 1,000-point scorer for the program during his senior year and finished with 1,014 in total.
Holden has enjoyed all of the accomplishments that he has obtained during his time at Henderson Collegiate but said that evolving his on-court performance and becoming more efficient off the court are two things he will always remember about his time at the school.
“I’ve seen myself develop mostly in the classroom,” Holden said. “When I was in middle school, I didn’t really do all that good in the classroom but I’ve developed a lot there. In basketball, I’m able to do a lot more with my right hand and I know that’s going to be helpful when I play at the next level.”
Holden is confident that Cape Fear Community College is a great location for him to learn more about his game so he can continue to play basketball at a four-year university.
After emerging as one of Henderson Collegiate’s most vocal leaders during the 2020 season, Hart is set to continue his basketball career at Methodist University.
Hart considers himself fortunate to obtain a college scholarship and is determined to become one of the top players for Methodist on offense and defense over the next four years.
“This is a new beginning for me,” Hart said. “At first, I thought I wasn’t even going to get an offer but luckily one came near the end. The hard work paid off and now it’s time for me to start this new journey.”
Although Hart primarily served as a rotational player for Henderson Collegiate during his two years on the varsity program, he gradually got more comfortable with Marshall’s system and began to make an impact during his senior year, which saw him grab four rebounds during his final game against Wilson Prep.
Hart said that basketball has always served as a teacher for him when it came to life lessons but he admitted that he initially struggled with confidence issues while trying to find his role on the varsity team.
Hart refused to give up on his dream and constantly worked with Marshall and his teammates to find ways to improve. He is proud of the progress that he has made and is confident that he will continue to get better at Methodist.
“I just started being positive a lot more,” Hart said. “I used to get down on myself whenever I couldn’t make shots but I just kept working in the gym until I finally built up enough confidence to go out there and play.”
Hart is eager to start working at Methodist both on and off the court. He plans to pursue a major in sports medicine.