When it comes to their daughter Jessica Clemons, Jesse Clemons and Zendre Crutcher customarily take part what are seemingly good arguments.
Perhaps Jesse Clemons can explain it better.
“Zendre and I are her biggest critics, but we are also her biggest fans,” Clemons told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson earlier this week. “We kind of bump heads because I may get a shirt or jersey done with something about Jessica and she’ll get on me by saying, ‘Why didn’t you get me one?’ Or she’ll tell me so I can get one done.”
By and large, when it comes to their 13-year-old daughter, a rising amateur basketball standout for Hickory Ridge Middle School, Crutcher and Jesse Clemons don’t seem to mind going back and forth about Jessica whom, given her favorable display on this basketball-crazed Memphis hoops circuit in recent years, it’s safe to say the sky’s undoubtedly is the limit for this progressive, vibrant student athlete.
For starters, Jessica, whose 5-foot-9, 130-pound frame has routinely served as matchup problems for the opposition, is that catalyst of arguably one of the region’s finest AAU squads, the high-powered Memphis War Eagles who are coached by former University of Memphis player and ex-Memphis Hamilton High star Rodney Newsome.
Add to the fact that this youngster has managed to exemplify a wealth of assertiveness and poise in that she plays through injuries, and it’s no wonder she and fellow War Eagle teammate Se’Quoia
Allmond have joined forces, thus making a strong case that they could be a force to reckon with in the coming years, most notable on Memphis’ ever-so-popular prep basketball landscape.
So how in the world did it come down to this?
How did a kid who boasts a wealth of immense skills on the hardwood managed to generate a buzz at such a young age, a trend that could very well be a sign of things to come in the foreseeable future?
To get a thorough understanding of how Jessica Clemons has managed to draw rave reviews from her coaches and peers — and now the media — look no further than the tireless efforts and support of parents.
Let alone those good arguments, of sorts.
“When she was six (years old), I took her to a camp Penny Hardaway had at Hickory Ridge Community Center and, that day, I saw how she performed against the other girls and how her IQ for defense was different for her age,” Jesse Clemons explained. “So I didn’t say too much, because I wanted to see if she could score, of course. She was stealing the ball left and right, but she wouldn’t score every time after the steal. It was a good learning experience for her at that age.”
To her credit, it is because of Jessica Clemons’ keen ability to clamp down on defense and hold the opposing team’s best player at bay that her mother earlier this week erected a Facebook post in which she described her daughter as being a “defensive specialist.”
As her father tells it, there’s no arguing or debating about that.
“Excitement, proud, and emotions that’s hard to explain,” said Jesse Clemons, when asked to explain a typical game day for his daughter. “I’m hoping that she is gives 100 percent every time she hits the floor.”
Jessica, of course, welcomes the tough loves from her parents.
“I want to thank my mom and dad for always staying on me, supporting me,” Jessica said. “I love them and I thank my mom for taking me to practices.”
In essence, Jessica acknowledges that her success on and off the court are her gifts back to her parents.
“I want to be the first Clemons female to play college basketball on my dad side of the family,” Jessica said.
Given the success this “defensive specialist” has enjoyed in recent years, it’s safe to assume that she’s well on her way to making that dream a reality.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.