An All-American Story: SGSC’s Jovante’ Spivey
Jovante’ Spivey’s plans after high school were focused on a potential future in college football. The star quarterback and safety from Savannah (Ga.) High had generated some interest from Appalachian State, Valdosta State, and Methodist University.
“Those schools were looking at me, but the recruiting never really went anywhere,” he said.
Then Spivey received a text message that would ultimately change his life.
“(Former) coach (Tyler) Page from South Georgia State College texted me to say they were looking at me to possibly play basketball,” he said. “While my focus in high school was more on football, I had played basketball when I was young and had always been good at it.”
Spivey made a visit to SGSC, and he accepted an offer two weeks later to play for the Hawks. It would be the only basketball offer Spivey would receive.
“We knew Spivey was a winner playing in back-to-back high school state championship games as the starting point guard,” said Cory Baldwin, SGSC’s men’s basketball coach.
Upon his arrival to campus in fall 2013, Spivey said there were discussions of him possibly sitting out the 2013-2014 season as a redshirt. That changed when Baldwin decided to give Spivey some playing time during the first part of the season.
“We didn’t start Spivey in the first seven games that season,” said Baldwin. “We used him more as a spark off the bench. As the season progressed, we realized we needed him more on the floor than on the bench.”
Spivey was eventually named to the starting five in 2013-2014 – a position he would hold for the rest of his SGSC career.
Baldwin’s decision to move Spivey into a starting role quickly paid off. Spivey finished 2013-2014 averaging 17 points, four rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He also had 62 steals. Spivey’s points-per-game average and steals placed him among the top 10 players in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA).
He was runner-up for GCAA Freshman of the Year, named to the GCAA’s All-Region second team, Junior College Newcomer of the Year for the Georgia Basketball Coaches Association (GABCA), and a second team All-State selection.
Spivey continued to place his mark on SGSC basketball in 2014-2015, averaging 22 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. He shot 79.2 percent from the free throw line and was third in the GCAA in steals (85).
He was the GCAA’s leading scorer, finished 15th in the NJCAA in scoring, and scored 20 or more points in 22 games. In addition, he became the first player at SGSC to eclipse 1,000 points, finishing with 1,251 points in his two-year career.
Spivey was named the GCAA’s Player of the Week on two separate occasions and was the GCAA’s Player of the Year. Other 2014-2015 awards included GCAA first team All-Region, the GCAA All-Tournament team, GABCA Player of the Year (Junior College), first team All-GABCA (Junior College), and the GABCA’s All-Academic team.
But it was Spivey’s selection as a first team NJCAA All-American that caught both him and Baldwin by surprise.
“Coach (Baldwin) called me about it,” Spivey said. “I had to pause for just a second, because it was surreal. I thought I might get honorable mention, so being selected to the first team was a shock.”
Baldwin said he knew Spivey would be on the list but had no indication that Spivey would make the first team.
“My reaction was sort of like, ‘Excuse me. What just happened?’” said Baldwin with a short chuckle.
Baldwin said Spivey surpassed every expectation the coaching staff had for him during his two years as a Hawk.
“We didn’t think Spivey would be a scorer when he came,” said Baldwin. “He definitely proved us wrong by being everything we thought he couldn’t be. That goes to show just how much of a determined and dedicated athlete he is.”
That determination and dedication runs in Spivey’s family. His parents are retired military, both having served in the Army. Spivey’s father, Anthony, served 10 years (six years active duty; four years reserve), while his mother, Nicole, served in active duty for 20 years. Nicole’s story is a good example of the Spivey family commitment.
As an Army officer, Nicole Spivey was with her troops in Afghanistan when the truck they were riding in ran over a mine. The explosion blew off the right side of the truck. The truck door burst open then slammed back into the truck, causing an injury to Nicole’s knee.
Spivey said even though his mom was injured, she stayed with her unit until help arrived.
“They had to wait in the desert for a long time until someone picked them up,” said Spivey. “She brought her soldiers back, even though she was injured, and was awarded the Purple Heart for what she did.”
In addition to being successful on the court, Spivey has also excelled in the classroom and was named to SGSC’s President’s List fall 2014. While he hasn’t solidified his plans of potentially playing basketball at the four-year level, Spivey is grateful for the opportunities he has had while at SGSC.
“Some people don’t understand how hard it really is to be successful in basketball,” he said. “But when I think about where I started to now being a Juco All-American, it just goes to show anything is possible if you keep working at it.”
PHOTO: Jovante’ Spivey (second from right) was recognized February 11 for being the first player to eclipse 1,000 points in a career at SGSC. (L-R) Nicole Spivey (mother), SGSC head coach Cory Baldwin, Spivey, and Anthony Spivey (father).