A-E’s Mr. Excitement is Player of the Year

Webb’s Norris is Coach of the Year

By Steve Williams

You can be sure that many fans have their eyes on Shane Cherry when he takes the basketball court. The Austin-East High School junior guard is exciting to watch … from his flashy moves to firing long 3-point shots to his windmill slams.

The athletic Roadrunner with the long dreads has been voted The Knoxville Focus / Coaches’ Knox County Player of the Year for 2023-24.

His title is based on regular season results.

Cherry averaged 27.1 points per game as A-E, which moved into District 2-2A this season, posted an 8-2 district record and tied Alcoa for first place.

The 5-foot-10 Cherry also averaged 3.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 steals as Austin-East posted a 22-10 overall record.

One of his best performances included a 41-point output in the Roadrunners’ 69-67 win over rival Fulton on the road in mid-January. The defending Class 3A state champion Falcons got revenge in early February at A-E as Cherry scored 21 in a 68-52 loss.

Shane also is a TSSAA Mr. Basketball finalist in Class 2A, which is based on regular season play.

Runner-up in the Knox County Player of the Year voting was Tyler Lee of Fulton, followed by Drake Ingram of Webb, Devyn Martin of West and Taj Kimber of Fulton.

Webb’s Ricky Norris was voted the Knox County Coach of the Year. In his 15th season as the Spartans’ head coach; his team (7-1, 23-4) shared the Division II-AA East Region title with Chattanooga Baylor.

Runners-up in the Coach of the Year voting were Denard Bertram of Austin-East and Lin Holloway of Berean Christian, followed by Lee Henson of Karns and JaJuan Smith of Catholic.


Other first-team honorees

Tyler Lee, Fulton: One of three FHS players to land on the squad as the Falcons went undefeated in District 3-3A and 26-2 overall. The 6-5 senior power forward also is a TSSAA Mr. Basketball finalist. Lee averaged 16 points and eight rebounds and was the District 3-3A Player of the Year. He hit 65 percent of his 2-point field goal attempts and 53 percent from 3-point range.

Denaj and Taj Kimber, Fulton: The senior twins also represent Fulton. Taj, who plays on the wing, averaged 15 points, five rebounds and four steals and connected on 55 percent of his field goal attempts. Denaj, point guard, averaged 13 points, six assists and four steals.

Drake Ingram, Webb: The senior wing averaged 14.8 points, shooting 43 percent from 3-point range and 88 percent from the free throw line. “He’s one of the better shooters in our area,” said Coach Norris.

Jaylen Pompey, Webb: The junior point guard averaged 12.2 points, 3.8 assists and only one turnover a game. “Hands down, he’s one of the best point guards in our area,” said Norris. Jaylen also made 43 percent of his shots behind the 3-point arc and 78 percent at the FT line.

Christian Bozeman, Karns: The senior transfer from Central nipped Cherry for the individual scoring title as he averaged 27.6 points per game. “Christian is a prolific guard in this area,” said Assistant Coach Chris Hartsfield. “He has the ability to score at all three tiers of the court. He is an explosive guard who can take over a game and change the outcome quickly.” Bozeman also averaged four steals and six assists per game for the Beavers.

Justin Nordin, Bearden: The 6-1 guard is the lone sophomore on the first team. He averaged 17.4 points, 4.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and two steals for the Bulldogs (6-4, 24-6). A marksman, Nordin connected on 45.3 percent on 3-point shots, 61.8 percent on 2-point attempts and 85 percent at the foul line.

Kaleb Walker, Powell: The senior led the Panthers (6-4, 21-6) and was the District 3-4A MVP. He averaged 16.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Nate Thompson, South-Doyle: The junior forward was strong on the boards for the Cherokees (5-3, 15-10) as he averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block per game.

Zack Turner, Gibbs: Scoring was his forte as he averaged 21.4 points. He shared the ball too and dished out 7.3 assists per game. The District 4-3A Player of the Year also averaged 4.3 rebounds and three steals.

Devyn Martin, West: The junior power forward led the Rebels to a solid showing in District 4-4A (6-4, 15-8). Martin averaged 14 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. “He was our top scorer and rebounder and definitely our all-round best player,” said Coach Aubin Goporo. “He controlled the lane on defense.”



Zane Brown, Carter, sr.

Condis Cherry, A-E, fr.

Bubba Faulkner, Karns, sr.

JD Harris, Central, sr.

Cade Murphy, Catholic, so.

Zion Oliver, Carter, jr.

Caden Owens, CAK, jr.

Drew Sloan, CCS, sr.

Brody Smith, Bearden, so.

Deonte Smith, Berean, jr.

TJ Tipton, S-Doyle, jr.

Dom VanAcker, Farragut, jr.



Demarcus Allen, A-E, sr.

Noah Brewer, Powell, sr.

Drew Brillhart, Bearden, sr.

Ben Brophy, HVA, jr.

Connor Copeland, Berean, jr.

Neyland Dugger, Powell, jr.

King Hubbard, Bearden, jr.

Demarcus Johnson, A-E, jr.

Jake Lane, Halls, sr.

Dexter Lewis, Fulton, sr.

Cam Mercer, GCA, jr.

Berkley Naro, Farragut, sr.

Kamen Shown, Gibbs, so.

Bennett Simerlein, CAK, sr.

Cam Swearengen, Webb, so.

Aiden VanAcker, Farragut, sr.


Knox County Boys’ Scoring Leaders

2023-24 regular season

Average Per Game

Chris Bozeman, Karns 27.6

Shane Cherry, A-E 27.1

Zack Turner, Gibbs 21.4

Deonte Smith, Berean 18.0

Nate Thompson, S-D 18.0

Dom VanAcker, Farragut 18.0

Justin Nordin, Bearden 17.4

Zane Brown, Carter 17.1

Bubba Faulkner, Karns 17.1

Kaleb Walker, Powell 16.7

Cade Owens, CAK 16.5

Jake Lane, Halls 16.0

Tyler Lee, Fulton 16.0

Cade Murphy, Catholic 16.0

Drew Sloan, CCS 16.0

Zion Oliver, Carter 15.8

Bennett Simerlein, CAK 15.1

Taj Kimber, Fulton 15.0

TJ Tipton, S-Doyle 15.0

Drake Ingram, Webb 14.8

Devyn Martin, West 14.0

Ben Brophy, HVA 13.6

JD Harris, Central 13.2

Cam Mercer, GCA 13.2

Condis Cherry, A-E 13.1

Denaj Kimber, Fulton 13.0


Knox County Boys’ Stat Leaders

2023-24 Regular Season

Average Per Game


Nate Thompson, S-D 11.0

Drew Sloan, CCS 10.5

TJ Tipton, S-Doyle 10.0

Tyler Lee, Fulton 8.0

Devyn Martin, West 7.7

Zion Oliver, Carter 7.3

Kamen Shown, Gibbs 7.1

Bubba Faulkner, Karns 7.0

Dom VanAcker, Farragut 7.0

Brody Smith, Bearden 6.5



Bubba Faulkner, Karns 8.0

Zack Turner, Gibbs 7.3

Chris Bozeman, Karns 6.0

Denaj Kimber, Fulton 6.0

Zane Brown, Carter 5.6

Deonte Smith, Berean 5.0

Justin Nordin, Bearden 4.2

Nate Thompson, S-D 4.0

Shane Cherry, A-E 3.8

Jaylen Pompey, Webb 3.8



Condis Cherry, A-E 4.1

Chris Bozeman, Karns  4.0

Denaj Kimber, Fulton 4.0

Taj Kimber, Fulton 4.0

Shane Cherry, A-E 3.5


Blocked Shots

TJ Tipton, South-Doyle 3.0

Devyn Martin, West 2.5

Nate Thompson, S-D 1.0