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The Unit: Team learns skills that go beyond basketball

By Pamela Brownstein
A unit achieves more when all the pieces fit and work together. That is the philosophy behind the sports mentoring program The Unit, a member of the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).
Head Coach David Francis and his wife Ruby Francis started the team four years ago with the goal of giving high school basketball players countywide an opportunity for more exposure to college scouts and recruiters. The organization is important for those pursuing athletic scholarships, and also provides them with basic life skills.

Back row, standing, from left, Trainer Louis Pantoja, Assistant Coach James Murray, Jay Abney, Anthony White, Shykeem Gardner, Jay Middleton, Preston Suber, Simeon Middleton, Michael Middleton, Assistant Coach Marvin Middleton, Trainer and manager Madison Bell. Front row, kneeling, from left: Coach David Francis, Rafael Guevara, Keiom Marshall, Andre Pringle, Tony Winston, Damian Brown and Brandon Washington. Not pictured: Wesley Riley and Sire Perry.

“We learn a lot about leadership and how to work together as a team,” said Simeon Middleton, a 10th grader at Whale Branch High.
In addition to strength training, conditioning and practice three or four times a week, the players have etiquette training and team counseling.
“The coach is always getting us to motivate each other,” said junior Preston Suber at Beaufort Academy.
Ruby said they want to help the boys be more confident in who they are. “We help prepare them for where they’re going, and in order to achieve their goals, you have to work for it,” she said.
Coach David said his goal is to make it to nationals at Disney in July. At a recent tournament in Orlando, the team came home with a championship out of the 30 teams in their division, so the team of talented athletes is looking forward to a successful season.
The Unit is a nonprofit and relies strictly on donations to help the players afford to travel to tournaments throughout the Southeast. They are very appreciative of their sponsors including Butler, Love House Ministries, Coastal OBGYN, Stokes Used Cars and Spectrum Graphics.
Where can you go to show your support for the team? The Unit will be playing in their third regional tournament on May 19 and 20 in Bluffton. They will also be having a fundraiser at Nippy’s on Saturday, June 2, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. with food and live music.
For more information about how to get involved with the team, call 843-476-1193.

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