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Cherokee Bluff senior Griffin Neville starts to hit his stride on the recruiting trail
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Cherokee Bluff's Griffin Neville dribbles the ball while Riverside's Harrison Nash blocking at Cherokee Bluff High School on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

It’s been a year of change for Griffin Neville.

When the rising senior basketball player made the switch from Gainesville High to the brand new Cherokee Bluff High School, he knew he would have to mature into a leadership role for the young program. Nearly a full year later, Neville’s growth is starting to garner attention. 

Neville received his first scholarship offer to play at Young Harris College at last week’s Greater Gwinnett Showcase. He had a chance to show off his skills in front of several more collegiate recruiters at last weekend’s invitation only NCAA Georgia Top 100 camp at McEachern High School. As the attention grows, Neville is focusing on staying grounded.

“I just have to thank God,” he said. “He’s been with me through it all.”

Neville’s recent ascent in the ranks of Georgia high school basketball began with his switch from the perennial powerhouse Gainesville to a more uncertain Cherokee Bluff team. With the Bears, Neville knew he would need to play significantly more minutes.

He also knew he would have to be a leader for the program in its inaugural year. 

“I’ve had to mature a lot,” Neville said. “That’s pretty much what I’ve been working on, having better composure and just mental toughness.

“Being able to be a good teammate.”

 It didn’t take long for that work to pay off. 

Neville led the Bears in most offensive categories last season, pacing the team in scoring as well as 3-point shooting. And while a 30-point performance from Neville against East Hall in the Region 7-3A tournament wasn’t enough to earn the Bears a win over the Vikings and a state tournament berth in their first season, college scouts were still taking notice.

It started with the occasional text from a coach letting Neville know he was on their radar. As the season wound down, brief messages turned into recruiting camp invites. He got his first look at Young Harris at the school’s elite camp earlier this summer.

“The gym was great, the campus was great; I loved everything about it,” he said. “It was high energy. I love the coaching staff. They have a great program over there.”

A week later, after watching him and the rest of the Cherokee Bluff team at the Greater Gwinnett Showcase at Archer High School, Young Harris extended an offer. 

It was the first Neville has received, and a moment he says he’ll always treasure.

“It was just crazy,” he said. “There were so many times I haven’t gone to hang out with friends, spent holidays in the gym. I’ve gone to the gym on vacation. It’s just amazing to see all the hard work start to come together.”

With one year of high school basketball left, Neville plans on keeping up the work to ensure that his first college offer to play for the Mountain Lions is not his last. 

At the top of his list of goals; however, is making sure Cherokee Bluff improves in the coming season. It’s a task that Bears coach Benjie Wood “has been doing a great job of getting us ready for” according to Neville. 

From an individual standpoint, Neville’s aspirations are simple.

“I just want to be a better leader, better communicator on defense, just really my all-around game,” Neville said. “I just want to get better as a teammate.”

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