By Carlos Rodriguez |
The Augusta University men’s basketball team picked up their first signee of the 2020 recruiting class, Adonnis Easton-Tolbert, who signed his national letter of intent Thursday, April 16 via a Zoom meeting call that featured his family members, coaches, teammates and friends.
It wasn’t Easton-Tolbert’s initial plan to host a virtual signing, but due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the closing of the state’s public school campuses, it was the best method to celebrate his achievement.
Easton-Tolbert is a 6-foot-6 forward originally from Tifton who attends Denmark High School in Alpharetta. He originally started his high school career at Griffin High School, spending his first two years there before transferring to Denmark for his final two seasons. Easton-Tolbert’s first year at Denmark was actually the first year the school opened.
At Denmark, Easton-Tolbert was a two-sport athlete, playing both football and basketball for the Danes. It wasn’t until last summer prior to his senior year that he decided to focus all of his energy on basketball.
Denmark is in the 4A classification in the Georgia High School Athletic Association. Despite only finishing the program’s second season, the Danes have been very successful. In just two years they’ve accumulated a 49-13 record, won two region championships, have made two elite eight appearances and one final four appearance. Coaching the Danes is head coach Tyler Whitlock and Easton-Tolbert’s father, assistant coach Kevin Tolbert.
“Adonnis is one of the greatest young men I have ever had the privilege to coach,” said Whitlock. “He genuinely cares about others and is very selfless, always looking out for his teammates.”
Easton-Tolbert played a pivotal role in Denmark’s success over the past two seasons. This past season, he averaged 11.3 points per game (third best on the team), and led the team in rebounding and blocks, averaging 7.0 and 1.3 per game, respectively. The team finished the season as Region 7-AAAA champions for the second consecutive season, advanced to the final four in the state tournament for the first time in program history, while finishing the season 25-6 overall.
“Adonnis is truly a team-first guy,” Whitlock said. “He will do whatever it takes to put us in a position to win. His size and athleticism were crucial for us in the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. He is a great shot blocker and quick enough to keep perimeter players in front of him.”
Easton-Tolbert made it clear he’s a team-first guy.
“I’m not just interested in improving my game but striving to do what’s best for the team as a whole,” he said. “I’m excited to help my team as much as possible and play at the collegiate level.”
Easton-Tolbert was recruited by other schools, but in the end felt AU was the best fit.
“Augusta seemed to fit my style of play,” he said. “I enjoyed the campus and I liked the coaching staff. It just lined up perfectly, and I was convinced after one visit.”
Coach Tolbert and Coach Whitlock both agree Adonnis has a bright future at Augusta.
“He will bring a blue-collar worker’s mentality with a lot of athleticism once he steps onto campus,” said Tolbert.
Whitlock sees the Denmark making an immediate contribution to the AU program.
“I believe Adonnis has the ability to make an impact immediately next year for Augusta,” Whitlock said. “He has the size and athleticism to play right away.”
Watching Tolbert play you can easily see his athleticism and how aggressive he plays around the basket, both offensively and defensively. He can also stretch the floor as he’s proven he can knock down mid-range shots.
Tai Young, communications manager for Hoopseen, has watched Tolbert play the past two years at Denmark.
“What jumps out immediately is his motor and athleticism,” Young said. “On both ends he leaves it on the floor. I’ve always thought that he could excel in the Peach Belt. He could be one of the conference leaders in field goal percentage and rebounding.”
Adonnis has been playing basketball since the seventh grade and started because his inspiration from his father, who played high school and collegiate basketball.
“I saw his love for the game and that convinced me to give it a try,” Easton-Tolbert said. “I tried it and loved it.”
Clearly, no one has seen Adonnis’ improvement since he first started to now as much as his father. Coach Tolbert has seen a drastic improvement from his son’s freshman year to his senior year.
“Adonnis was a late bloomer and struggled with confidence,” said Coach Tolbert. “The one thing that separated Adonnis was his work ethic. He worked his butt off in the weight room as well as on the court. As he advanced throughout high school, he continued to work and refine his skill set.”
Coach Tolbert watched his son go from being a role player to becoming the “go-to guy” on his team. Easton-Tolbert reaped the benefits with all the hard work he put in, receiving numerous of accolades. His junior and senior years he racked up all-county, all-region and all-state first team honors. Off the court, Easton-Tolbert is an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and will be an honors graduate.
AU will be returning all players from last year’s squad, except Rafael Monteiro, who is graduating. Tolbert will join a frontcourt that includes rising juniors Tyshaun Crawford, Robert Barlund and Jack Johnson along with rising sophomore Lee Flenor, who sat out the second half of this past season.
Chad Cook, color commentator for SUV TV covering AU basketball, is impressed with Easton-Tolbert.
“He gives Augusta a deeper rotation in the frontcourt compared to the three-man group the Jaguars went with during the conference schedule last season,” Cook said. “I expect Adonnis and Lee will be more athletic than the frontcourt players of last season. They will add an element of explosiveness and speed to the mix that might especially help in guarding perimeter players in the conference.”
The Jaguars finished last season 21-8 overall, finished second in the Peach Belt Conference regular-seaosn race and were set to play in the first round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional against Lander at Lincoln Memorial University before the tournament got cancelled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I would like to thank God for His grace and mercy in allowing me to get this far,” said Easton-Tolbert. “I would also like to thank my parents, siblings, grandparents and all of family.”
He also thanks his coaches, his Denmark teammates and the AC Georgia AAU program.
This fall, Easton-Tolbert looks to bring his winning attitude and contribute in any way he can for the Jags.
Contact Carlos Rodriguez at email@example.com.