By Robert Wilson

Lanier High’s opponents didn’t stop talented senior guard Mark Drone last week.

The only thing that slowed down Drone was a limit on his minutes due to him coming off a pulled muscle injury.

The 5-foot-11 Drone averaged 23.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4 steals and led MHSAA defending Class 4A state champion Lanier to two Class 4A, Region 6 victories over McComb and South Pike.

For his outstanding performance last week, Drone has been named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Week.

Drone had 26 points (9 of 18 from the field, 2 of 4 from 3-point range, and 6 of 9 from the free throw line), 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 assist and only 1 turnover in 26 minutes in a 70-65 victory over McComb and 21 points (8 of 12 from the field and 5 of 6 from the line), 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals and only 1 turnover in 24 minutes in a 66-47 victory over South Pike.

“Mark is coming off a pulled muscle that put him on a minute restriction and he picked up where he left off, averaging about a point a minute,” Lanier coach Bo Clark said. “Mark has been playing extremely well for us all season. He’s been a leader on the court and in the classroom.”

Drone’s ability to score reminds Lanier fans of Lanier alumnus Monta Ellis, who won National High School Player of the Year and was an NBA draft pick out of high school in 2005.

Drone – who had two games of more than 40 points in his first five games – is averaging 25.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 3.3 assists for 16-6 Lanier. He is shooting 59.1 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from 3-point range, and 83.4 percent from the line.

Drone was star at Northwest Jackson Middle School, then averaged 10 points per game as a freshman at Provine. Drone averaged 24.5 points in two games as a sophomore at Provine before he injured his hip and missed the rest of the season. He transferred to First Love Academy in Pennsylvania for his junior season, and they did not play due to the covid pandemic. Drone came home and transferred to Lanier his senior season this year.

Drone had 31 points (10 of 10 shots from field, 2 of 2 from 3 point range, and 5 of 5 from the line), 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in an 89-68 victory over Wayne County in the season opener. He scored a career-high 42 points against Callaway in the fourth game of the season and 41 against Warren Central in the fifth game.

“Mark is like (former NBA scoring star) Allen Iverson without the flair,” said, Clark who was named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Coach of the Year after leading Lanier to the 4A state title last season. “He’s so quiet and humble and he comes from a good household. Mark has qualified and is going to make someone a great college player. He’s so efficient and gets to the rim so effortlessly. Mark has a great midrange game, can also shoot the 3 and get the rim with ease. Mark isn’t the kind of player who is going to take 40 shots, he’s unselfish and is a great passer. He has made a seamless transition to Lanier and our team and makes his teammates better. Mark is playing an off guard for us but is also an excellent point guard.”

Drone is the brother of former Callaway All-State guard Deville Smith, who averaged 22.2 points as a senior and was ranked No. 14 among guards in the nation by ESPN in 2011. Smith went on to play one season each at Mississippi State, Nevada Las Vegas, and Tennessee-Martin.

Drone’s numbers are even better than Smith’s and his all-around ability reminds Lanier fans of Ellis, who averaged 38.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 4.5 steals a senior and led Lanier to a 35-2 record, the 4A state title and a No. 3 national ranking. Ellis’ 72 points against Greenwood as a senior is the second highest in Mississippi history.

He averaged 17.8 points in 13 seasons in the NBA and is considered one of the greatest players in Mississippi history. Ellis’ number was retired earlier this month and Drone had 42 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds in an 85-78 victory over Callaway in the game the presentation was made.

“Like all the great players, people are coming to watch Mark play,” Clark said. “We’ve had sellout crowds.”

Robert Wilson selects a player of the week from Hinds, Madison, or Rankin Counties. Coaches can nominate a player by contacting Robert by text or call at 601.506.2276 or email, [email protected]