Ready or not, a 30-second shot clock is coming to all Georgia High School Association (GHSA) basketball games in just a couple of years.
The state executive committee approved a proposal to bring the shot clock to the high school level with a three-year phase-in plan. This upcoming season it will be in use in approved holiday tournaments and showcases. During the 2021-22 season, individual regions can vote whether or not to use the shot clock in region games. Once the 2022-23 campaign begins, it will be in use across all GHSA basketball games, including the state playoffs.
The measure passed easily with a 53-10 vote among executive committee members.
Warren County athletic director and head football coach Steven Simpson, who formerly held those same positions at GMC Prep, is the Region 7-A representative on the executive committee. He told The Union-Recorder Wednesday he was surprised at how lopsided the vote was.
“Even schools I thought would be totally against it were in favor of it,” Simpson said. “It shocked me.”
Those in favor of the shot clock wanted to grow the high school game by quickening the pace while also getting it more on the level with college. University of Georgia head men’s basketball coach Tom Crean, as well as Georgia State University head men’s coach Rob Lanier, were among those advocating for the change. They both lent their voices to the effort during Tuesday’s GHSA state executive committee meeting held in Thomaston.
Those against the high school shot clock had concerns that were more logistical and financial in nature. Schools now have to foot the bill, which will likely come somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000, to purchase and install the new equipment then find a way to operate it for games. How the shot clock is run will be left up to the schools as they can pay an official or get school staffers/volunteers trained in how to run the 30-second clock.
Locally, a quick poll of the varsity boys and girls coaches at Baldwin High School and GMC Prep revealed that most are in favor of bringing the shot clock down to high school basketball.
“I don’t mind it really, especially in our region,” said GMC Prep girls coach Shawn Dennis. “It might actually be helpful for us. We like to press when we can, so when a team gets the ball past half-court they'll have a lot less time to get a shot off.”
Dennis acknowledged the new measure could also work against his team, especially since it just graduated its four-year starter at point guard. Based on recent years, though, the shot clock is likely to help the Lady Dogs more than harm them as long as Dennis can coach up a new chief ball handler.
The only real dissenting opinion among local head coaches when it comes to the shot clock belongs to the most senior of the group in GMC Prep boys coach James Lunsford.
“I don’t really think high school basketball needs a shot clock,” he said. “It’s something a lot of coaches and players wanted, but it’s just going to involve a lot of wild shots in a lot of different situations.”
Lunsford said he believes that good basketball is built through fundamentals, not seeing how many shots each team can get up in 32 minutes.
Like it or not though, the shot clock is coming. Only a couple of questions really remain, the first being exactly when teams will see it in the three-year phase-in plan. Both Baldwin boys coach Anthony Webb and girls head Kizzi Walker say they are on board with making it part of the region schedule in the 2021-22 season.
“I think the region should do it,” said Walker. “Teams stall the ball forever and ever and make the games so boring. Now you’ll have to play and you’ll have to execute. It can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing, but we’re going to work through it.”
“I think it would be best for regions to go ahead and opt-in to use it,” added Webb. “You’ve got to use it that next year anyway, so go ahead and get used to it.”
The other lingering question is how the local schools choose to operate the shot clock — by paying an official or training a volunteer similar to how the game clock and scorebook are traditionally kept. The GMC Prep coaches were more in favor of doling out more money to an official while the Baldwin coaches seemed to be leaning toward training a volunteer/supporter of Braves/Bravettes basketball to do it.
The first chance any local teams would play with the shot clock would be if they participate in any approved holiday tournaments or showcases this season.