With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season for high school basketball, the Lanier boys basketball team is playing better than ever. The team is fun to watch compete, especially the dynamic duo of junior Jayce Nathaniel and senior Osmar Garcia-Araujo.
The pair are consistently the top playmakers on the team. Their efforts have contributed to Lanier being in first place in Region 8-AAAAAA and ranked third in the state in Class AAAAAA.
Standing at 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7 respectively , both Nathaniel and Garcia-Araujo are easily visible but it isn’t just their height that makes them stand out on the court. The pair are highly competitive which leads to them getting in the thick of the action and breaking away to make some spectacular plays.
Between the duo, Nathaniel is the team veteran as he first started attending school in the Lanier cluster in the ninth grade. He made the move to the Lanier area from the Archer cluster because of the basketball team. Nathaniel liked the way head coach Branden Mayweather ran his program and the opportunities that he could provide.
“Jayce is an exceptional player, a kid who has honestly worked hard to get to where he is now,” says Mayweather. “He has been with us for three years starting as a freshman. His game now compared to where he was then is night and day. Proud of the type of kid he is and his work ethic.”
The power forward has been perfecting his basketball skills since the fourth grade. When not playing for Lanier, Nathaniel plays in summer leagues with his most recent team being Game Elite.
Nathaniel’s versatility and aggressive, physical style of play has attracted the attention of college recruiters. Georgia, Georgia State, Kennesaw State, Jackson State and New Mexico State have offered scholarships to Nathaniel. He says he is not ready to commit just yet and his recruitment remains open.
The road taken by Garcia-Araujo to get to Lanier has taken a different route than Nathaniel. Garcia-Araujo was born and raised in Venezuela where he remained until the eighth grade. It was at that point that his father learned of an opportunity for Garcia-Araujo to play basketball in Florida.
Garcia-Araujo left behind his parents in Venezuela and made the move to Florida to live with Barbara Tabares and Carlos Suarez. Tabares and Suarez have been his guardians and stand-in family for the past five years. Garcia-Araujo and his guardians made the move to Habersham County for his junior year to escape the hurricanes in Florida.
This past summer, Garcia-Araujo, a power forward, and his guardians met with Coach Mayweather about the opportunities at Lanier. After meeting with Mayweather, his guardians decided to make the move to the Sugar Hill area so that Garcia-Araujo could spend his senior year as a Longhorn.
The transition to Lanier has gone well for him and he has worked hard to fit into the team.
“Osmar has been fantastic, full of life, outgoing. He’s the fan favorite but he’s another kid who works so hard,” says Mayweather. “He enjoys and loves what he does so much that it becomes easy to work with him and point out areas he needs to grow in. For somebody to come in on year one and take on a leadership role, to mentor the younger kids has been great and has rubbed off on everyone.”
Garcia-Araujo began playing basketball at 10 years old and when not playing during the high school season, he plays summer ball most recently for TSF in the Nike circuit.
In the future, Garcia-Araujo pictures himself playing basketball for a college basketball team. He has maintained a 3.7 GPA and is a truly versatile player, putting the overall good for the team above himself. He would be an asset to any team he plays on. He’s a vocal leader on the court helping his teammates to know the plays and giving encouragement to others.
Both Nathaniel and Garcia-Araujo will leave their own mark on the Lanier boys basketball program and are truly appreciative of the opportunities Coach Mayweather has given them.
The next few weeks will test both of them as the regular season comes to an end and the state playoffs begin. If Lanier continues to play the way they have been the last few weeks, they stand a strong chance to go far into the playoffs and perhaps the championship game. The dynamic duo will be in the thick of the action if it goes the way the rest of the season has gone.