By Robert Wilson
Opponents at Lanier High didn’t stop talented senior guard Mark Drone last week.
The only thing that slowed Drone down was a minute limit due to a pulled muscle injury.
The 5-foot-11 drone averaged 23.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4 steals and led defending MHSAA Class 4A State Champion Lanier to two wins from class 4A, region 6 against McComb and South Pike.
For his outstanding performance last week, Drone was named Basketball Player of the Week by Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys.
Drone had 26 points (9 of 18 from the field, 2 of 4 from 3-point range, and 6 of 9 from the free throw line), 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 assist, and just 1 turnover in 26 minutes in a 70-65 victory over McComb and 21 points (8 of 12 from the field and 5 of 6 from the line), 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals and just 1 turnover in 24 minutes in a 66-47 victory on South Pike.
“Mark is coming off a pulled muscle that put him on a one-minute restriction and he’s picked up where he left off, averaging about a point per minute,” Lanier’s coach said, Bo Clark. “Mark has played extremely well for us all season. He was a leader on the court and in the classroom.
Drone’s ability to score reminds Lanier fans of Lanier alumnus Monta Ellis, who won National High School Player of the Year and was selected in the 2005 NBA High School Draft.
Drone — who had two 40-plus games in his first five games — is averaging 25.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 3.3 assists for 16-6 Lanier. He’s shooting 59.1% from the field, 36.8% from 3-point and 83.4% from the line.
Drone was the star at Northwest Jackson Middle School, then averaged 10 points per game as a rookie at Provine. Drone averaged 24.5 points in two games as a sophomore at Provine before injuring his hip and missing the rest of the season. He transferred to First Love Academy in Pennsylvania for his junior season, and they did not play due to the covid pandemic. Drone came home and traded his senior season to Lanier this year.
Drone had 31 points (10 of 10 shooting from the field, 2 of 2 from 3-point range and 5 of 5 from the line), 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in an 89-68 win over Wayne County in of the season opener. . He scored a career-high 42 points against Callaway in Game 4 of the season and 41 against Warren Central in Game 5.
“Mark is like (former NBA star) Allen Iverson without the flair,” said Clark, who was named Priority One Bank/Mississippi’s Metro Jackson Boys Basketball coach of the year after leading Lanier to the title. of State 4A last season. “He’s so calm and humble and he comes from a good family. Mark qualified and is going to make someone a great college player. He’s so efficient and gets to the rim so easily. Mark has a great game mid range, can also shoot the 3 and get the rim easily Mark is not the kind of player who is going to take 40 shots, he is selfless and is a great passer He made a smooth transition to Lanier and our team and makes his teammates better. Mark plays off guard for us, but he’s also a great playmaker.”
Drone is the brother of former Callaway All-State guard Deville Smith, who averaged 22.2 points as a senior and was ranked No. 14 among guards nationwide by ESPN in 2011. Smith went on to played one season each at Mississippi State, Nevada Las Vegas and Tennessee-Martin.
Drone’s numbers are even better than Smith’s and his all-around ability reminds fans of Lanier Ellis, who averaged 38.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 4.5 steals a senior and has leads Lanier to a 35-2 record, the 4A state title and a No. 3 national ranking. Ellis’ 72 points against Greenwood as a senior are the second most in Mississippi history.
He averaged 17.8 points in 13 NBA seasons and is considered one of the greatest players in Mississippi history. Ellis’ number was retired earlier this month and Drone had 42 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds in an 85-78 win over Callaway in the game the presentation was made.
“Like all great players, people come to see Mark play,” Clark said. “We had sold-out crowds.”
Robert Wilson picks a player of the week from Hinds, Madison or Rankin counties. Coaches can nominate a player by contacting Robert via text or by calling 601.506.2276 or email, [email protected].