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If you’re a wrestling fan or tune in to the physical soap opera occasionally for a good laugh like I do, then the next statement will make perfect sense.
[In the voice of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson] Finally! The Shot Clock is coming to high school basketball in Georgia!
After seeing the news on Twitter, Yes! Yes! Yes! came to my mind as a response, which Daniel Bryan made famous during his wrestling matches.
Folks this means the stall-ball tactic or milking-the-clock strategy seen too often at the start of the fourth quarter by the team with the lead is coming to an end. On June 23, the Georgia High School Association’s executive committee voted 53-10 in favor of a mandatory 30-second shot clock at the beginning of the 2022-23 season.
Behind every major change or significant breakthrough there is always one voice, one person leading the charge towards progress and that has been Langston Hughes coach Rory Welsh, who has been advocating for a shot clock for some time now by various methods, including social media and at least my podcast (now the All Basketball Podcast and formerly the Triple Threat Basketball Podcast) in 2019.
(I remember when he mentioned the addition of a block/charge circle and the shot clock during an interview before the beginning of the 2018-19 season after I asked him what rule or addition he would like to see implemented.)
“We felt like the time was now, said Welsh on the SUVtv GHSA Shot Clock Postgame episode. “We built up enough steam, enough support and the time was now to take advantage of that support and steam we had generated. It facilitated the basketball community to come together and have one voice. Through the vote, we saw that voice was overwhelmingly in support of a shot clock. I wasn’t surprised by the outcome. If you look at the history of GHSA basketball, the game has been played the same way for probably 40, 50, 60 years so I think a lot of school systems, a lot of administrators, a lot of fans and a lot of people that are invested in the game were ready to see some progressive change and it kind of came to fruition.”
If the upcoming basketball season isn’t cancelled due to COVID-19, unfortunately the shot clock can only be used in GHSA-approved holiday tournaments or showcase games like those during the Hawks-Naismith Tip-Off Classic last season which featured a 30-second shot clock.
Then during the 2021-22 season, the option is available for the shot clock to be used in region games, and then the following season, the shot clock will be a part of all GHSA competition, including the playoffs.
“The phase-in aspect makes it realistic,” Welsh said. “The GHSA has 456 schools. For us to think we could just get a shot clock passed and all 456 schools are operating under the same rule book in winter of this year is completely unrealistic. The three-year, phase-in plan made it realistic for every school system to get their equipment, get trained and be prepared. So we felt like the phase-in plan was what really hit home for all of the voters and made it realistic for us to get this thing done.”
So there definitely will not be anymore postseason games that feature a stall in play during the final two minutes since the wise decision is to hold the ball and take the final shot if the game is tied. Even better, the overtime session of a championship game will not have everyone in the stands watching the game clock tick down the first three minutes of OT instead of the action on the floor because one team decided to hold the ball until the closing seconds before taking a shot.
“From a defensive standpoint, this really gets me excited,” Norcross coach Jesse McMillan said. “I think too much emphasis is put on what it might do to the offensive game but if I’m a defensive coach or got a good defensive group I’m licking my chops right now because you’re in a position where you know there is going to be a guaranteed end of a possession. They’ve got to get a shot up and that changes everything at the end of ball games.”
“This is just awesome for the defensive end of the floor, giving kids a reward for playing hard,” Welsh said. “We are always badgering kids about playing with a better motor, giving their all but then they got to sit there and guard another team for a minute and a half. That takes a little bit out of you. Now with the shot clock in play, it’s really going to ramp up the defensive end of the floor and add a little balance offensively.”
Even though the addition of a shot clock will prevent one team from just dribbling the ball near half court to counter a zone defense or another from running a play over and over just to kill time, new issues will be introduced such as the ball not touching the rim but the shot clock is reset or did the shooter fully release the ball before the shot clock expired.
Those not in favor of the shot clock also believe these issues will coincide with a frantic style of play which features too many bad shots on both ends of the floor, a selfish brand of basketball and a decrease in competition, which McMillan isn’t buying.
“I really get irritated with the argument that there are going to be more blowouts,” said McMillan, who also appeared on the episode with Welsh. “I just don’t see how that is going to happen. If you are vastly inferior from a talent standpoint against your opponent, it’s not going to go good for you no matter what. I don’t think that is a fair argument. I think that is an uninformed argument and I think the people that may use that argument are only thinking about the two or three games they play where there is a big discrepancy in talent.”
Georgia is the first state in the South to add a shot clock at the high school level while joining California, Maryland, North and South Dakota, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. in that category.
As a result, only 18 percent of the 50 states and District of Columbia have all of its high school games played with a shot clock and that is a terrible shooting percentage. In the latter part of 2022, that percentage will increase slightly with Georgia coming on board.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) doesn’t appear to have any plans of making the shot clock mandatory nationwide if you were wondering about that happening.
But which state will change its game next?