With the 2021-22 college basketball season approaching, three Eastside Rams basketball players signed with college programs on Friday afternoon. Jarveil Gainey, Omar Brown and Jaheim Smith each signed with colleges to take the next step in their careers.
The Rams leading scorer last season, guard Jarveil Gainey signed with Pensacola State. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 175 poinds, Gainey averaged 15.2 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game last season. He also led the team with 3.0 assists per game. His best performance came in a win over rival Gainesville High School, where he scored a season-high 30 points while shooting 75% from the field.
Joining Gainey in signing with a college program is guard Omar Brown, who signed with Louisburg College in Virginia. Primarily a shooting guard, Brown was second on the team in scoring with 14.2 points per game last season and led the Rams with 2.5 steals per game. Brown’s best performance came against 2019-2020 state champion Hawthorne. In a nail-biting 62-61 victory, he scored a season-high 24 points while shooting 10 for 15 from the field.
Finally, forward Jaheim Smith signed with Utica College in New York. Standing a 6-foot-4 and weighing 170 pounds, Smith led the Rams with 1.4 blocks per game and was fourth on the team with 4.1 rebounds per game. Primarily a defender, Smith scored a season-high 11 points and had five rebounds in a win over Calvary Christian. He also had an impressive three blocks in a win over Saint Francis Catholic. However, Smith’s best defensive performance came in a win over Matanzas, where he had 10 rebounds and five steals.
Discussing his former players, head coach Herman “Pop” Williams praised the three players for their discipline off the court.
As far as what Gainey, Brown and Smith bring on the court, Williams said all three have good basketball IQ, but that they will have to get used to the physical play off college basketball, especially after having to slow it down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Heading into the 2021-2022 season, Eastside is coming off of an impressive 20-3 campaign last season which included a 17-game win streak in the middle of the season. After losing a multitude of seniors to graduation, Williams is waiting to see who comes back and who might transfer into the school.
“It is just like the transfer portal. You think you got kids coming back, and it’s so open now,” Williams said. “You got to wait until the first day of school to see what’s going to be at the school because kids are doing the same thing in high school. They are jumping from school to school.”
The head basketball coach since 1996, Williams returns for his 25th season leading the Eastside basketball program.