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Russellville's Motes signs scholarship to Huntingdon

On Tuesday afternoon in the Russellville Field House, Golden Tiger senior Bailey Motes signed a scholarship to attend and play basketball at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama.

Motes was one of eight Golden Tigers seniors to sign an athletic scholarship.

“It feels great,” said Motes. “I had a couple Division II offers like Spring Hill, but I felt I had a better relationship with Coach (Caleb) Kimbrough and Coach (Ben) Strong, and I felt like that was more important.”

Academics also played a role in Motes’s decision to sign with Huntingdon.

“I’m wanting to go into pharmacy and they have a pharmacy track,” he said. “I can start my degree there and then after four years I can go on to Auburn and continue my academics. Or, after two good years at Huntingdon, I could transfer.”

As exciting a day as it was for Motes and his family and friends, Motes’s head coach was just as excited.

“Anytime you have a player that has an opportunity to continue their career at the next level, it’s just a blessing to be a part of that,” said Russellville head coach Patrick Odom. “Bailey’s worked for a long time to accomplish a dream of playing college basketball, and it’s just fun to see kids who’ve worked hard, not only athletically but academically, reach their goals.”

But the journey to get to a position where Motes could continue his basketball career was an interesting one.

Motes started his freshman year at Phil Campbell before moving to Tharptown for his sophomore and junior seasons. In his final year, Motes made the transfer to Russellville to play for Odom’s Golden Tigers.

“I kind of wish I had moved sooner. And Coach Odom, it’s been great playing for him,” Motes said. “It was a great year; I couldn’t have asked for it to have been any better.”

On the floor, it is hard to be much better than Motes was for the Golden Tigers last season. The 6-1 guard averaged 20.1 points, six rebounds and three assists per game, and he helped lead Russellville to an area title and an appearance in the sub-regional round of the playoffs.

Motes was also named to the Class 5A All-State Second Team and was the TimesDaily 4A-6A Basketball Player of the Year and the Franklin Free Press Basketball Player of the Year.

“He’s relentless. He’s such a competitor, and he’s the type of guy that’s going to give you all he’s got from day one,” Odom said. “We’re going to miss him.”

Motes’s single-season impact may best be seen in Russellville’s wins and losses column. In the 2015-16 season, while Motes was earning Franklin Free Press All-County honors at Tharptown, the Golden Tigers were struggling, compiling an 11-16 record. In 2016-17, with Motes, Russellville finished 18-8.

Not all of the credit can go to Motes, as players like Austin Stidham, Taylor Vincent and Devin Buckhalter also filled the roster, but he was as key to Russellville’s success as any other player donning the Black and Gold.

“He’s been such a great player for us this year, and he’s made a huge impact on our program,” Odom said. “I was very blessed to have a group of guys that just hate to lose, and they give you everything they’ve got. That’s the kind of player Bailey is.”

Just like at Russellville, Motes is hoping he can also make an immediate impact at Huntingdon, a team that finished 2-23 last season.

“That’s another reason I made my decision to want to go to Huntingdon, because I want to play right away,” he said. “I feel like if I go in and do what I’m supposed to do and work hard then I’ll have a chance to start and play right away.”

The chance to improve a team, like he did with the Golden Tigers, is an opportunity Motes relishes.

“They’re rebuilding there and I want to be a part of something special,” he said.

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