THOMASVILLE -- Arguably the best basketball player in the 2004 Olympic games has ties to Thomasville, and no he isn't Tim Duncan or Allen Iverson. Rather, he is a lesser-known point guard from Puerto Rico named Carlos Arroyo.

Arroyo's 20.3 points per game, including 24 against the mighty American's, leads the Olympics. He has also led Puerto Rico to a 3-1 record and a birth in the medal tournament for the first time in the country's Olympic basketball history. And although his journey to Athens started on a small tropical island, it passed through the halls of Brookwood School on the way.

How did he wind up at Brookwood? It all started with former Brookwood head basketball coach Trey Godwin and Georgia Southwestern University basketball coach Glenn Duhon.

Godwin played college basketball at Georgia Southwestern under Duhon. After Godwin's playing days at the school were over, he became a graduate assistant to Duhon before eventually leaving to become the head coach at Brookwood.

Although he left Duhon's side, the two kept in contact and remained friends. In the offseason, Duhon would travel to Puerto Rico to hold basketball clinics. He ran into two 16-year old twins named Carlos and Alberto Arroyo one day.

The Arroyo twins possessed tremendous basketball skills and their father, Alberto Arroyo Sr., asked Duhon if he could get them to high school in the states so they had a better chance to earn a college scholarship. Knowing Godwin was the coach at Brookwood, Duhon brought the twins to Albany to watch the Warriors play in a summer league.

"I remember we were playing up in Albany and they were sitting in the stands and everybody was saying, 'Who are they?',"Godwin said. "I said, 'I don't know?' (Duhon) told me who they were after the game and said they wanted to come to the states to play. They liked how we played and I invited them to join us."

They both joined the Warriors basketball team later that summer, but Alberto decided to return to Puerto Rico and never attended the school. Carlos, on the other hand, decided to stay and put in one of the best seasons in Brookwood history. As a junior, he averaged more than 30 points and 10 rebounds per game.

"He was a great player (at Brookwood)," Godwin said. "He had all the talent and no doubt is one of the best players I've had an opportunity to coach."

Arroyo was only at Brookwood for one season, though, as he went back to Puerto Rico the next year. He was still able to earn a basketball scholarship at Florida International University where he teamed with Raja Bell to set numerous school records.

Although, his stay in Thomasville was short, he and Godwin kept in touch. And Arroyo's breakout Olympic performances don't come as a surprise to the former Brookwood coach.

"I remember after he left, he went and played in Puerto Rico's pro league," Godwin said. "He was the youngest player in the league and he called me one night saying how nervous he was because he had to guard Edgar Padilla (fellow Puerto Rican and former star of the University of Massachusetts 1996 Final Four team ). I told him not to be nervous and go out and play. Well, he ended up scoring 36 points on Padilla and held him to only eight."

His play at FIU and in the Puerto Rican pro league earned Arroyo a tryout with the NBA's Toronto Raptors. Arroyo hurt himself and never made the team, but eventually got another tryout with the Utah Jazz. He made that team in 2001. There he was stuck behind two future hall of famers, John Stockton and Mark Jackson, and he didn't receive much playing time early.

Jackson eventually left Utah and Stockton retired after the 2003 season, leaving Arroyo as the starting point guard. Arroyo made the most of the opportunity averaging nearly 13 points per game. But he spent much of the year battling nagging injuries.

Godwin knew Arroyo would eventually get his chance to be a starter in the NBA. He believes he will become one of the premier point guards this season.

"I knew he had the talent to make it to the NBA," Godwin said. "He suffered with some injuries, but he never got discouraged from fulfilling that dream. He has the talent and will be a great player once he is able to stay healthy."

Arroyo is finally healthy, and Godwin is excited to see what he will do next year for the Jazz. In the meantime, he is enjoying watching his former player star in the Olympics. And Godwin admits he has caught Puerto Rico fever.

"I'm American and want the USA to win," Godwin said, ",ut I want to see Carlos do well. And if America doesn't win, I'm rooting for Puerto Rico to take the gold."

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