thomas walker

Thomas Walker High School began classes on Wednesday and Shelbie Fannon was among the new students enrolled.

Fannon has transferred from Lee High to Thomas Walker and that’s notable since she is one of Southwest Virginia’s top girls basketball players.

A 5-foot-9 junior two-guard, Fannon averaged 15.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last season at Lee in earning second-team All-Mountain 7 District honors.

She’ll be scoring points and hauling down rebounds for the Pioneers instead of the Generals this winter.

“The decision was based on multiple reasons,” Fannon said. “It was something that me and my family have prayed about and discussed over some time. I believe Thomas Walker was a better fit for me in the end.”

The Pioneers will be getting a player who is polished.

“Shelbie is a good all-around player,” said Caleb Church, who coached Lee High’s girls last season and is now the boys hoops coach at J.I. Burton. “She has a passion and love for the game. She’s constantly working on improving her game.”

Fannon spent her summer competing for the Tennessee Shooters AAU squad and competed in exposure tournaments in Nashville, Louisville and Atlanta.

“I had a really good showing and have some colleges take interest in me,” Fannon said.

Thomas Walker went 16-8 last season and finished as Cumberland District tournament runner-up in Jonathan Lovelace’s first season as head coach.

The year ended for the Pioneers with a 53-51 overtime loss to Grundy in the quarterfinals of the VHSL Region 1D tourney.

The Pioneers started two juniors, two freshmen and a sophomore last season with Lakin Burke and Talyn Dibrell each averaging a double-double.

Thomas Walker is one of several Class 1 schools from far Southwest Virginia – Eastside, Honaker, Patrick Henry and George Wythe among the others – that figures to field a strong girls basketball team during the 2019-20 season.

Having Fannon in the fold will definitely be a plus for the Pioneers.

“They have a great program and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Fannon said. “I think Coach Lovelace is dedicated to his team and he can make me a better player. I’ve seen great things he has already done in a short time he has been there.”

thayes@bristolnews.com | Twitter:@Hayes_BHCSports | (276) 645-2570

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