Winston-Salem Prep sends host of talent to the next level

Six athletes from Winston-Salem Prep will be moving on to play collegiate sports in the fall.

Winston-Salem Prep sends host of talent to the next level
May 19
13:33 2021

Coaches are measured mostly on wins and losses, but in reality, how they prepare their athletes for the next level is a far better barometer for success in my opinion. Winston-Salem Prep athletes routinely earn scholarships to some of the best athletic programs around and this year is no different.

Last week, six Phoenix athletes signed their national letter of intent to play at their respective schools of higher learning. Four football players, one boys’ basketball player and one girls’ basketball player, were among the signees. 

Arkba Hurst Jr., Zaire Patterson, Nasir Houston and Tresean Stewart were the four football players that signed their letters. Head football coach, DeRon Middleton, was in attendance and says this crop of seniors was special because they were all just in the eighth grade when he took over as head coach.

“I am very proud of these kids and I told these kids when I met them in the eighth grade that if they stick with me, I can pretty much guarantee I can get them to college if they put the work in,” said Middleton. “This is my baby-to-young-men group, and it will probably be the group that I miss the most.  

“They are the ones that helped my transition and believed in what I was telling them. They bought in and it showed on the field. All of them, I believe, were Division I players and I believe COVID kind of stopped their progress, but I am glad they are going to be able to go to school, get a degree, and take care of themselves when they are done.”

The biggest name of the bunch is Patterson, who will be headed to Clemson University in the fall. Patterson is a four-star prospect and the 13th ranked player in the state, according to He chose Clemson over other blue-blood programs because he felt they would give him the best chance to achieve his goals on and off the field.

“It’s just a special place that feels like home and I just know it will get me where I need to go when it comes to my future,” Patterson said about his choice to attend Clemson. “I didn’t know I would end up here when I first started playing, but I knew what I wanted to do. It’s just crazy how fast it happened.

“I hold myself to high expectations and I have always been an A/B student with a high GPA. It’s going to be hard leaving home at first, but I’ll get used to it because I’ll be out there playing football, doing what I love, which will make it a little easier.”

Arkba Hurst Jr., a wide receiver/defensive back for the Phoenix, will be attending Mars Hill in the fall. Hurst felt the environment at Mars Hill felt more like a family and that swayed his decision toward the Mountain Lions.

“The visit was amazing and it really made me feel at home,” he said. “The people that I met, they really impressed me, and I really wanted to go there as soon as I visited.

“When I came here, I wasn’t even thinking about playing football; I started playing basketball. I played football, met new people, and the coaches were great. It was just a great experience and I will miss my coaches, friends and everyone that I met.”

Hurst stated he had no idea playing football would lead him to a full scholarship to college. He said he is going to cry when his family drops him off at college.

Another defensive lineman for the Phoenix headed off to college is Nashir Houston. Houston chose Fayetteville State University over several other suitors to play college football.  

“It felt like more of a brotherhood than any of the other colleges that recruited me,” said Houston. “I just felt welcome and at home and I always told myself I am going to go where I felt most comfortable. I felt like I fit in more there, so Fayetteville was the place to be.

“It gets me emotional when I think about all the hard work I put in to get here. There were ups and downs and I really wasn’t supposed to be here at this point, but it’s all about God and God helped me and guided me to the right path where I am today.”

Houston says he is shooting for all As in his classes and on the field, he wants to become defensive player of the year for the conference every season. 

Tresean Stewart was the homerun hitter for the Phoenix out of the backfield last season. The dynamic running back will be attending Limestone University in Gaffney, S.C. to play his college football. Stewart says Limestone showed the most interest throughout the recruiting process and that impressed him.

“The coaches welcomed me and treated me like a regular student,” he stated. “I am thankful to all the coaches. They are like dads and uncles to me. I am just going to go down there and play ball and be me.”

Middleton says the biggest joy he gets out of coaching is seeing his players have the opportunity to play college football. Middleton is a former college football player at Winston-Salem State University, so he has been where his players are attempting to go.

“I was one of these kids and football helped me get to where I am in my career as far as a football coach and a teacher and enabled me to take care of my daughter,” he stated. “I just want them to get the same opportunity that I was provided and hopefully football gives them that opportunity. I see a little bit of myself in all of them.”

Prep has always had a winning tradition when it comes to basketball. Both the girls’ and the boys’ teams have won state championships and have sent many players to the next level. Tatyana Childress and Camden Sanderson are just the next two players to carry on that rich tradition.

Childress will play her collegiate basketball at Johnston Community College, which is located 30 miles east of Raleigh in Smithfield. She was one of the leaders of the girls’ basketball team, according to former head girls’ coach and current boys’ head coach Bill Tibbs.

“I got a full ride, so I am just happy they gave me the opportunity to even get the chance to play college basketball,” she said. “It’s a good environment, good teammates, and a good staff and a good school.”

Childress says it was a surprise to her when she was offered the scholarship by Johnston, but welcomed the chance to continue her education for free.

“I was just happy; me and my mother, because I have always dreamed of it and we always talked about it and it finally happened,” she continued. “I am actually excited to get away and be on my own.”

Sanderson was the point guard for the boys’ team, along with being the leading scorer. He will play basketball at Pfeiffer University. He felt the smaller school environment would benefit him when it came to the classroom.

“I took a visit to the school about a month ago and I really liked the campus,” Sanderson said. “It’s a smaller school, which means I’d be able to get more help in the classroom. I talked to the coaches a lot and I have a good relationship with them.  

“I have been through so much in the last four years, so it was definitely a relief, but I was ready to get to work. It has been a lot of fun here and I have met a lot of people and built a lot of relationships.”

Sanderson says the coaching staff went above and beyond to assist him with his career and he is very thankful for that. He knows it will be tough being away from home, but feels he will adjust after a few weeks.

Tibbs has a great perspective on both players as the former girls’ coach and current boys’ coach. He says Childress contributed heavily to many of the Phoenix’ victories during her junior year when he coached her.

“Tatyana played for me and she was the leader of the team and the leading scorer as a junior,” said Tibbs. “She helped us win a lot of games. She is very reliable and you know what you’re going to get from her and you won’t have a problem out of her in the classroom. So as a coach, I am very comfortable with her being on the floor and not worry about what’s going on with her off the floor because she is going to take care of business.”

Tibbs says he knew what he was going to get from Sanderson each and every game and as a point guard, that is exactly what he was looking for. 

“Camden was our leading scorer and as a coach, when you know what a kid is going to give you, you don’t have to worry about it,” Tibbs said. “I think that Camden will do well on the next level because he is a heck of a student also.”

Tibbs can not only speak from a coaching standpoint, but also as a parent. Two of his children attended Prep and both were also athletes that obtained scholarships to play college sports.  

“I can talk from a coach’s perspective and a parent that if a kid graduates from Winston-Salem Prep and can possibly get a scholarship, that kid is ready to play,” he said. That is what coach Gould started and that is what I am trying to continue the legacy on.”

Ricky Holt is the athletic director for Prep and he is proud of all the athletes for their accomplishments. To see so many young men and women move on to the next level is what it’s all about, he said.  

“It’s a great feeling anytime you have kids that are good and academically sound and doing what needs to be done,” he said. “This is the type of thing you want out of your athletic program. It shows that our coaches and athletes work hard at what they do.  

“We have a small family atmosphere and we try to look out for one another and that’s what you’ve got to have in a solid athletic program.  

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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