In a lot of ways, Isaac Gridley and Perignon Dyer couldn’t be more different.
So much so that a photo of the two standing next to each other looks like a selection of promotional material for the newest buddy cop drama or the latest take on The Odd Couple. Instead, the polar opposites represent the continued pipeline between the Cartersville High’s boys basketball program and the college ranks.
Gridley, who’s listed on the Canes’ roster as 6-foot-6, signed to continue his hoops career at Berry College in Rome, while the 5-foot-11 Dyer will take his talents to Paine College in Augusta.
“It’s a great fit for both of them,” Cartersville head coach Mike Tobin said. “Both of the coaches really wanted them. … They’re both real good students, and I think it’ll be a good fit for both.”
Berry and Gridley were in contact virtually throughout the versatile senior’s final year with Cartersville. He took a visit earlier in his high school career that endeared him to the nearby college.
After finally receiving an offer to join the Vikings, Gridley still took a few days to weigh his option of deciding whether to play basketball at the next level, ultimately believing that he would have enough time to keep up with his academics.
“The main thing was whether I would have enough time in college to balance playing a sport and doing academics, as well,” Gridley said of the decision. “I could do it in high school. It wasn’t that hard to manage, but in college, it would be a lot harder to manage that time. …
“Once I thought about it, I was like, ‘I’m going to go play basketball. Why not give it a shot?’”
Gridley’s presence will give Berry a player with the ability to stretch the floor and pull posts away from the paint, because opponents will have to respect his 3-point shooting.
He’s always been adept at blocking shots, setting the school record with 206 in his career, but over the course of his career, he’s improved his rebounding rate, which was key for an undersized Canes team this past season.
“He’s going to do real well at the next level,” Tobin said of Gridley. “He’s a real sleeper in the state. I think he slipped through the cracks of some schools that he could have really helped.”
Speaking of slipping through the cracks, all Dyer did his final year in Cartersville was break the longstanding record for points scored in a season with 610. A prolific shooter from deep with an uncanny ability to finish around the basket, Dyer seems destined for a big role at Paine.
“I had many colleges, as soon as they found out his height, they wanted to ask about other players,” Tobin said. “You see it all the time with kids like Perignon. … He’s been playing against guys his whole life who are bigger and taller than him. He’s accustomed to scoring inside against taller, stronger guys. I think, he’s going to do great.”
Dyer will likely be asked to contribute immediately for a program coached by one of Tobin’s former players and Bartow County native Mike Linley.
“I can’t even really explain the relief I felt from it,” Dyer said of the offer. “It’s a lot of weight off your shoulders. A lot.
“I’m very grateful and thankful for this opportunity to play at the next level.”
Even though he’s going to school on the other side of the state, Dyer believes he’ll enjoy his transition to Paine — and not just because the school’s colors keep him from needing to invest in a new wardrobe.
“Augusta is a lot bigger than Cartersville,” Dyer said of his first impression. “I figured that out, as soon as I arrived. … There’s a lot of things to do that I noticed while I was driving through the town on the way to the school. I feel like there’s a lot more to do than Cartersville, so I think I’m going to like it.”
For all the differences between the two, there's still plenty of similarities.
Dyer and Gridley had a joint signing ceremony at the beginning of the month to commemorate their collegiate pledges. It was fitting for the pair of now-graduates to combine their ceremony, because they’ve experienced so many signature moments together.
“It made it that much more memorable to be able to share that moment with Perignon,” Gridley said of the duo’s signings. “To see that we’re both taking our game to the next level and playing basketball in college, it was an exciting and cool moment to be able to share that with him.”
Having joined the Canes as freshmen, both started on the 2017-18 team that reached the Class 4A state quarterfinals. With Gridley and Dyer as the only returning starters this past season, it took a great effort from the two to guide Cartersville back to the Elite Eight.
Both said their time spent with the program will be something they’ll always remember.
“It’s honestly one of the best things in my life,” Gridley said of being a Cane. “It was such a good four years. It was crazy how fast it went by. I can’t even really remember a time without being a Purple Hurricane. All of the memories I’ve had with four sets of players coming and graduating, building relationships and getting close to coach Tobin and all the other coaches who have helped me get to where I am today, it was a really big experience. It had a tremendous impact on my life, and I’m really grateful for that.”
Said Dyer, “I’ve been around it for so long, it’s just feels a part of me, now. … I’ll always be a Cane.”
Gridley and Dyer could go on to become the next Starsky and Hutch or Felix and Oscar. More than likely, though, the mismatched pair will continue to head their separate ways after completing their collegiate careers.
But they will do so as lifelong Canes who used basketball to further improve their lives.
“What I’m pumped about is the fact that they’re good students, and when it’s all said and done, they’re going to get a college degree out of it,” Tobin said. “Instead of just playing basketball for four years, they’re going to get degrees and be real successful. You love to see kids using basketball to be able to better their future.”