By Steve Silver, Tennessean Staff Writer, July 8, 2008
Wayne Dedrick could not have had a better high school senior year.
He signed a basketball scholarship offer from Lipscomb University in November.
Then, in February, he scored 30 points in the Alabama Class 6A state championship game to lead Hillcrest High School to its first-ever basketball title. Dedrick was named tournament MVP.
Lipscomb basketball coach Scott Sanderson was justifiably elated when Dedrick arrived in Nashville, enrolled in summer school and began working out, preparing for his career as a Bison.
But that all changed when Dedrick was unexpectedly selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 30th round of the baseball draft in June. He pulled out of school in recent weeks and returned to Alabama, where he is deciding whether to skip college to play professional baseball.
“I really don’t know what I'm going to do,” said Dedrick, who continues to work out, practicing both basketball and baseball with former Hillcrest teammates. “I miss my teammates at Lipscomb like crazy right now. Nashville was truly a home away from home… This is a big step and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
His departure has left a void in Lipscomb’s men’s basketball program. The guard from Tuscaloosa added speed and ball handling skills to a solid Bison’s recruiting class that includes 6-8 Justin Glenn, 6-7 Matt Shaw and 6-4 Jacob Arnett.
“He is a very explosive offensive player,” Sanderson said. “He is very athletic. He really knows how to score.”
Sanderson said he had no idea any Major League Baseball teams were interested in Dedrick, though the third baseman did hit .402 with 22 RBIs in his senior year at Hillcrest. He also won a state title in baseball as a junior, alongside the Brewers’ 19th round pick, pitcher Blake Billings.
“I never thought baseball was in the equation,” Sanderson said. “His parents didn't know. He didn’t know. Nobody knew. It sprung on all of us about a month ago.”
In an article that appeared on the day after he was drafted, Dedrick told his hometown newspaper, The Tuscaloosa News, that he didn’t even enjoy playing baseball until his senior year of high school.
But the lure of pro baseball was too strong to ignore completely.
Dedrick headed home on June 11 to prepare for negotiations with the Brewers, alongside his father, Thomas, who has been acting as his agent.
The first meeting dates with Milwaukee representatives were repeatedly pushed back, he said. In response, Dedrick withdrew from his classes at Lipscomb, fearing his absence from classes would cause him to fail summer school and hurt his academic eligibility.
Dedrick still hadn’t received a firm contract offer from the Brewers. When he does, he said, he’ll consider whether the dollar figure is high enough to redirect his life. As with all baseball draftees, professional baseball teams will pay for his remaining education should he elect to return to school later.
“It's really just a potentially amazing opportunity,” Dedrick said. “(The Brewers) can always pay for my school when I finish playing. There aren’t many opportunities like this. Four years of college wherever I want to go. That’s definitely a factor.”
Dedrick’s decision, though, will ultimately have ramifications beyond his own life.
Lipscomb would regain a scholarship spot if Dedrick pursues baseball, but they would also lose one of the top basketball prospects from Alabama.
“There’s not a whole lot I can do besides wait and let him make his decision,” said Sanderson, the Bison’s coach. “Let’s just say I’ve learned more about baseball in the last month then I’ll ever need to know.”
Reach Steve Silver at 615-259-8017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.