Mark Sears, one of the top prep basketball players in the Shoals, is no longer attending Muscle Shoals High School, Muscle Shoals coach Neal Barker confirmed to the TimesDaily.
“He withdrew from our school,” Barker said.
Barker said he has not heard from Sears since the start of the school year and does not know what school Sears now attends.
Sears’ father did not respond to two text messages seeking comment.
Asked if he was surprised by Sears’ departure, Barker said “I’d heard some rumors.”
Sears, a 6-foot guard, has college scholarship offers from Elon, Missouri State, South Alabama and UAB.
Sears was a Class 6A second-team all-state player as a sophomore and a first-team all-state player as a junior. He has been the TimesDaily’s big-school boys basketball player of the year each of the past two seasons.
Last year as a junior, he averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists per game. One of his more notable performances came in a Northwest Regional final win over Bessemer City, when he had 31 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. That victory sent Muscle Shoals to the state semifinals.
Sears also played a significant role in the Trojans’ run to the 2016 Class 6A state championship game when he was an eighth-grader.
The Trojans return several contributors from last year’s state semifinalist team, but Sears is not an easily replaceable player.
“It’s just next man up for us,” Barker said. “It’s high school basketball, so you’ve got to go with the guys who are there.”