A three-star recruit and All-Metro first-team selection last season, Higgs took an official visit to Oxford, Miss., on Sept. 1 with Gators coach George Panageotou and his father that “exceeded expectations,” Panageotou said.
Rebels head coach Andy Kennedy and assistant coach Todd Abernethy, Higgs’ recruiter, had made him a priority since July, Panageotou said. Playing close to home was a factor in Higgs’ recruitment, but “the coaching staff, the school and then obviously being able to play in the [Southeastern Conference] sealed the deal,” Panageotou said.
Despite his size, the 6-foot-8, 200-pound Higgs is a relative newcomer to basketball. He started playing in eighth grade and didn’t get called up to Perry Hall’s varsity until late in his freshman season. But he’s grown 5 inches since, and has started for the Gators the past two years.
Last season, he led Perry Hall in scoring (15.7 points per game) and averaged 8.8 rebounds, two blocked shots, two steals and 1.2 assists per game as the Gators won their first Class 4A state title in program history.
“He's a gym rat,” Panageotou said. “He just really works very, very hard on his game, and has gotten better at really every aspect of his game.”
Higgs, who’s rated the No. 317 overall player in the 247Sports.com Composite rankings for the Class of 2018, chose Ole Miss over offers from Colorado, Xavier, Saint Joseph's, Massachusetts, Tulsa and Towson, among others.
Panageotou said his developing perimeter and post skills excited college recruiters. He’s just as eager to see what Higgs looks like as a leader.
“For us, we're going to lean on him, believe it or not, even more than we have,” he said. “I graduated eight from our championship team, so I still have some very, very good players, but we don't have the depth that we had, so we're going to lean on him to do a lot more. He's taken on a leadership role, too, so that will help him going into the next level.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Glenn Graham contributed to this article.