GALLATIN - A trio of Station Camp Bison basketball players signed to continue their academic and athletic careers on the hardwood Tuesday afternoon.
“Quite an accomplishment today,” head basketball coach Seth Massey said. “We are very proud of them and excited to follow their careers. They leave a void and big shoes to fill, but I am very excited for each of them.”
Cameron Gerlach signed to play for Maine Maritime College, citing that it was an easy decision to sign with the Mariners.
“I felt at home when I went on my visit, so I would say that it was an easy decision for me to sign to play there,” Gerlach said. “My relationship with them started in AAU. The coach saw my film, direct messaged me, and we went from there. It will be a little cold, but I think I will be all right (being that far from home).”
Gerlach will study International Business and Logistics during his time in school. He also says that he would not be here today with the love and support of those closest to him.
“My family and coaches have helped me so much in my progress,” he added. “Without them, I would not be here today.”
Gerlach adds that playing college basketball was not on his radar until after his junior season.
“When I came in freshman year, I just wanted to make the team and do the little things,” he said. “At the end of my junior year, I started taking it seriously, and things picked up pretty quickly from there.”
Gerlach will compete in the North Atlantic Conference at the Division III level.
Eli Thurston signed papers to continue his career at Bryan College.
“Bryan was just the right fit for me,” Thurston said. “I was either going to go play at Bryan or go to school at Chattanooga, but I fell in love with the game again and wanted to continue my career.
“Having someone there I know should be a big help in my transition,” Thurston added on signing with his teammate Kavon Blakenship.
Thurston adds that college basketball was not a goal of his freshman year, but after playing the game for the last four years, he decided he was not ready to give it up just yet.
“I looked at playing, but it was not a goal of mine to play college ball,” he said. “I was playing and was not thinking about it, but here I am, after all the hard work and effort I put in. It was a grind, but I did whatever I needed to do to play.”
Teammate Kavon Blakenship will join Thurston in Dayton, Tennessee, and says that today would not be possible without the support of his teammates and coaches.
“I have had a great group of coaches from middle school to high school to help me grow as a person and player,” he said. “They have helped me get the job done both on and off the court.
“I fell in love with Bryan the first day I was there,” he continued. “It meant a lot to me that the coaches and players wanted me there. I cannot wait to continue playing basketball (at the next level). It has always been a dream of mine to play college ball. I am excited to keep doing it.”
Blankenship adds he will study psychology at Bryan.
Coach Seth Massey states each player brings a different skill set to the table, but both Bryan and Maine Maritime are getting great players.
“They all have great intelligence for the game,” he said. “Cam’s coach reached out and told me he liked his knowledge for the game, his ability to pass, and his skills as a big man.
“Kavon and Eli are elite defenders,” Massey continued. “With Kavon, you get great athleticism and his shooting ability. Eli is the ultimate tough competitor. He is an excellent shooter, and that will serve him well. All three of these guys leave a huge void, and we will miss them next season.”
Bryan College competes at the NAIA level and plays in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.