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Gleaton Makes History At Andrew Jackson Academy, Becomes First Basketball Prospect To Sign Scholarship From The Small Rural School

Gleaton Makes History At Andrew Jackson Academy, Becomes First Basketball Prospect To Sign Scholarship From The Small Rural School   

By Billy G. Baker


Ehrhardt—It took nearly 50 years, but at a school assembly at Andrew Jackson Academy on May 16th, attendees witnessed Conner Gleaton, a 6-5 small forward, sign his commitment papers to play basketball at Erskine College in the fall.

Gleaton, a sharp shooting player on the court, with a strong move to the basket, became the first ever student-athlete from AJA to sign a next level basketball scholarship. Gleaton was also honored on April 14th at the HSSR winter all-state banquet and Erskine College head coach Lee Sartor served as one of the keynote speakers at the event.

“Conner’s versatility of being able to play inside or out is what gives him a chance for further development,” said Coach Sartor. “He had a good work-out when he came up for our open gym play after his senior season. I look forward to helping him continue to develop both as a player and as a person at Erskine College.”  

Gleaton was a HSSR-SCISA all-state performer as a sophomore and a senior. He missed his junior season due to a hip injury that resulted in surgery. As a senior Gleaton averaged 22.2 points, 10.8 rebounds. 2.8 steals and 1.6 blocked shots a game. During his sophomore year he averaged 19.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Gleaton is a versatile player who can play at a small forward or step outside and be a shooting guard with good moves to the basket with a soft perimeter shot all coaches are seeking in players.

His high school coach, Josh Barnes tells the HSSR, “This event today is impressive, and we are happy for Conner and he has overcome so much to get this opportunity to continue to play a sport he cares a lot about,” said Coach Barnes. “He came back this season from a serious injury his junior season more determined than ever to help the team.

“He is just now getting back to 100 per cent,” said Coach Barnes. “He played in pain through-out his senior season, but he was not going to miss his final high school season. I think when you see a completely healthy player in Conner you are going to be hearing a lot of positive things about his contributions at the next level.

“Conner is a raw talent with unlimited potential,” said Coach Barnes. “Conner has always had the talent to play at the next level, but it took him awhile to get his mind right. Things don’t bother him on the court like they used to.”

As a sophomore Gleaton was all-region, all-state, voted the team’s Best Offensive Player and made his region’s all-tournament team. As a senior he was the Co-Player of the Year in the region, the team’s MVP player, earned all-state honors and once again made the region all-tournament team, He scored 1,023 points in two varsity seasons where he also grabbed 494 rebounds.

“Erskine is getting more than they realize as far as pure talent goes,” said Coach Barnes. “When Conner gets completely healthy, look out! He has led us to so many victories the past two seasons. He has put us on his shoulders yet plays basketball the right way. He plays with a true team concept. We have built a tie that goes well beyond coach-player.”

After the signing, in the very gym where he had made many down town three pointers, fought off rival players for an offensive rebound in the paint to make second-chance shots, Gleaton told the HSSR,  “I am very excited for this opportunity and I hardly know what to say but I know I am going to give it everything I have at Erskine.”” he said.

“I am going to go hard with everything I got, and I feel like my best days on the court are ahead of me,” said Gleaton who uses his strong vertical leap to out-jump opposing players for rebounds or getting shots off in close quarters. “I am building back the strength in my legs now because I had been down for a while. I feel good about where my game is right now. I am going to add some weight over the summer too.”

Gleaton’s main goal at Erskine is to be the best player he can be. “Anything the coaches want out of me I am going to do my best to deliver for them and the team,” he said.  “I want to be a productive member of the team and I want to contribute in whatever way I am asked to contribute. “

Gleaton said he owed a debt of gratitude to Coach Barnes, and his parents (Caren & Chesley) and grandparents (Carl & Elaine Cope) for always supporting him as he developed his game.  “I am very thankful to have great parents and grandparents in my life and to have had a good coach like Coach Barnes helping to develop me as player and a person. My future goals are to make them proud of me. I have made some mistakes, and I have learned from my mistakes, an I am looking forward to the future.”

Just maybe one day the announcer at Erskine College will introduce Gleaton on Senior Night with these words, “And now please welcome “SENIOR” Conner Gleaton to center court, accompanied by his parents and grandparents and high school coach Josh Barnes as we honor him for becoming the all-time leading scorer in Erskine basketball history with 1,741 points!”

Goals and dreams go together. Gleaton has the talent and he has now found the stage to display those talents. Time to laser focus on the future and get ready to be a difference maker.

“I was drawn to Erskine mainly because Coach Sartor is a good player development coach and he did a great job helping develop Zion Williamson into the top player in the nation when he coached him in high school,” said Gleaton. “I know that he can help develop me as a player also and I am looking forward to my new journey.”


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