Memphian Harold Draper III making his presence felt on AAU basketball circuit

Make no mistake, Harold Draper III is only nine years old.

However, the general consensus among those who have followed his dazzling display on the AAU circuit is that he has the basketball IQ of someone twice his age.
HIGH RISER --- Memphian Harold Draper III first began playing competitive basketball at the age of five. Today, the nine-year-old hoops phenom is making his presence on the AAU circuit as a member of the Memphis Tigers 10-and-under team (Photos submitted by Andrea Alrdridge)

HIGH RISER — Memphian Harold Draper III first began playing competitive basketball at the age of five. Today, the nine-year-old hoops phenom is making his presence felt on the AAU circuit as a member of the Memphis Tigers 10u team (Photos by Jeff Rashad Thomas)

“He’s one of, if not, the hardest working child I know,” said University of Memphis senior guard Trey Draper,” the cousin and mentor of Harold Draper III. “If he’s not in the gym, he’s outside trying to get better. What impresses me about him is his ability to retain information at nine years old. He’s a student of the game. If you tell him something one time, he’s trying to apply it in the next game.”

Among the reasons Harold Draper III has become empowered to acquire so much knowledge about basketball is that it seems he doesn’t grow tired of studying the game. In fact, if basketball was a pop quiz, this kid would master in flying colors.
Take, for instance, how Harold Draper III commemorates the game, particularly when he isn’t clamping down in defensive stances or pulling cross-over moves on opposing players in gymnasiums across the city. Nicknamed “HD3” because of his prowess and assertiveness on the court, Harold Draper III spends an ample amount of time watching NBA Hardwood Classics with his father, Harold Draper II.
So what exactly has prompted an amateur basketball player to adopt such a unique trend for his age?
“He has basketball intelligence like his dad,” said HD3’s No. 1 fan, Andrea Dandridge. “He would rather study the game, learn the game, and watch what the legends did. When he goes to games, he watches the older kids.”

YOUNG VET --- Nicknamed HD3, Draper III has become accustomed to competing with older and bigger players in his time as an amateur basketball standout.

YOUNG VET — Nicknamed HD3, Draper III has become accustomed to competing with older and bigger players in his time as an amateur basketball standout.

His keen desire to observe older players, to his credit, has enabled him to build a solid rapport with a host of U of M players, most notably Joe Jackson and Shaq Goodwin, among others. Add to the fact that HD3 first took part in competitive hoops when he was five years old, and it’s no wonder this young hoops prodigy has blossomed as a catalyst for the Memphis Tigers 10-and-under team, who competes mostly against 12-and-under squads.
“I love to watch older players because I’m able to learn different moves for my game,” the soft-spoken HD3 told MemphiSport.
And because he’s quickly evolved into what Dandridge describes as a “fast learner of the game”, it didn’t take long for HD3’s coaches to discover his skills on the AAU circuit. For starters, his development coach, Eric “Cowboy” Robinson, immediately became sold on his display during his first workout in which the Double Tree Elementary fourth grader drew rave reviews during a brief shoot around session.
“He went to practice, shot around, and the coach Vincent Grady said, ‘I’m going to let him play for me,’” Dandridge recalls.
SHUT 'EM DOWN --- Draper III has lofty aspirations of playing basketball at the University of Memphis just like his mentor, Tigers point guard Joe Jackson.

SHUT ‘EM DOWN — Draper III has lofty aspirations of playing basketball at the University of Memphis just like his favorite player, Tigers point guard Joe Jackson.

One moment, HD3 is making his AAU nationals debut in tournament in Little Rock, Ark. The next moment, he’s upgrading his stock as a speedy point guard who doesn’t shy away from penetrating to the basket and knocking down shots over bigger guys much like his favorite player, Joe Jackson, the former White Station star who is considered one of the elite point guards in all of college basketball.

Given his eye-catching display on the AAU circuit coupled with his deep affection and knowledge of the game, it’s safe to assume that HD3 is destined to duplicate the accolades orchestrated by his basketball role model, Jackson.
“He’s a point guard like me,” HD3 said of his admiration for Jackson. “And my dream is to play for the (U of M) Tigers.”
Given how the U of M players have monitored and embraced his basketball craftiness of late, it appears HD3 is already being recruited to play for the hometown team.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist. 

Comments

  1. Sharilyn Draper says:

    Great story about a GREAT young man! Keep up the great work HD3.
    Your cousin Sharilyn

  2. Elijah Jackson says:

    Hes my friend at school

  3. Lil harold its man-man remember me hallah back at me

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