Former Duncanville sprinter to college coaches: ‘I’m going to give it my all and do my thing on the track’

DUNCANVILLE, Texas — D’Andre Jackson-Reeves loves track and field.

So much, in fact, that he deemed it necessary recently to consult an Olympic gold medalist for advice as he prepares to lobby for a spot on his college track and field team.

ON YOUR MARK --- D'Andre Jackson-Reeves emerged into a standout sprinter for Duncanville High in the Dallas area. After getting advice from two-time Olympian Rochelle Stevens recently, he hopes to earn a spot for Prairie View A & M track and field team this fall. (Photos submitted by Nathanial Reeves)

ON YOUR MARK — D’Andre Jackson-Reeves emerged into a standout sprinter for Duncanville High in the Dallas area. After getting advice from two-time Olympian Rochelle Stevens recently, he hopes to earn a spot for Prairie View A & M track and field team this fall. (Photos submitted by Nathanial Reeves)

Jackson-Reeves contacted Rochelle Stevens, a two-time Olympian who won a gold medal as part of the 4×400-meter relay team in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

A conversation he said lasted for about 15 minutes, Jackson-Reeves admittedly came away inspired as he clings to hopes of earning a spot on Prairie View A & M University’s track and field this fall.

“She talked to me about what coaches will be looking for in a college athlete and the times they would want,” Jackson-Reeves told MemphiSport during a recent interview. She asked what events I ran and what were my best times were. “She suggested that I run cross country to help me get in shape. The conversation was some what informative because she told me a lot of things I already knew about track and what it would take.”

While Jackson-Reeves, the former Duncanville High sprinter, did not compete for a spot on Prairie View’s track and field program his freshman year so he could focus primarily on his grades, he believes now the time has come to prove he’s worthy of putting his skills on display for PVAMU coach Chris Clay’s squad.

ALL WORLD --- Before winning an elusive gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics, Memphian Rochelle Stevens was a four-time national champion at Morgan State University in Baltimore. (Getty Images Photo)

ALL WORLD — Before winning an elusive gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics, Memphian Rochelle Stevens was a four-time national champion at Morgan State University in Baltimore. (Getty Images Photo)

Ever since Jackson-Reeves set foot on the Houston, Texas campus last fall, he has taken part in mostly individual workouts as a way of staying in favorable shape. Add to the fact that he has compiled a 3.5 grade point average, and it’s no wonder why he believes he could contribute immediately for PVAMU.

“I believe (the PVAMU coaching staff) saw me working out,” Jackson-Reeves said. “I’m fast and I’m a go-getter on the track. I have the attributes to help that team.”

Said Jackson-Reeves’ father, Nathaniel Reeves: “That’s one thing I’ve really pushed and that’s work ethic. Being in the military for years, you’re working as a team to get a job done. We go out as a team, we shoot as a team, move and communicate as a team. Not only does (Jackson-Reeves) does it on the (track), but he can do it in the classroom.”

Prior to enrolling at PVAMU, Jackson-Reeves enjoyed an efficient stint for Duncanville’s tradition-rich track and field program.

He ran the 100- and 200-meter dash and took part in the 4×100- and 4×200-meter relays his freshman and sophomore seasons before omitting the 100-meter dash from his events his final two seasons.

Looking back, he said he felt his second full year was his breakout season, in large part because Duncanville came away with assortment of hardware.

“It was just that year, my teammates and I were doing really good,” Jackson-Reeves said. We would go to every meet and come back with medals. The team chemistry was really good. And plus it was good because we were winning. It really boosted my confidence.”

Now, Jackson-Reeves is destined to exhibit that same winning attitude for Prairie View. Surely, he realizes it will take a monumental effort on his part. But as he tells it, he welcomes the lofty challenge of making his presence felt.

Once again.

“I have the grades,” Jackson-Reeves said. “So you never have to worry if I’ll be eligible to run. And I have the will power to compete. I just want to be another student who wants to compete on the track.”

Said Jackson-Reeves former high school track coach William Henderson: “I was Dre’s summer track for two-to-three years but our relationship with him and his family goes beyond the track.  I’ve always had a good relationship with him even to this day as he moves toward and pursue his passion in and out of the classroom.  I was always partial toward Dre’ because he has the same passion towards track as I do. He has always been a hard-worker and focused young man.  Dre is a self motivator and a leader which are essential elements in being a track athlete.  He’s very aware of his abilities but isn’t afraid to tackle those things that will make him better.  I think each team, no matter if it’s Pop Warner, high school, college, or professional needs people like Dre’ on their team.”

If given the chance to compete for Prairie View A & m, Jackson-Reeves said he would have fulfilled his dream of competing at the collegiate level.

“I’m going to give it my all and do my thing on the track,” Jackson-Reeves said.

For Jackson-Reeves, it was similar advice he absorbed from Stevens who, before striking Olympic gold, made her presence felt on the track for a historically black college (Morgan State University).

“She helped me to realize that I’m really going to have to bust my butt and start making a name for myself and let my speed do the talking for me,” he said. “And with (good grades) and good times, then I can get a scholarship. She sounded like a nice person and a person that keeps it real, because she didn’t want to lead me on to false information.”

Now it’s time to put on display what he was told by one of world’s finest sprinters to ever grace a track.

DreColumnAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also is the NBA Southwest Division reporter. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Lausanne basketball standout Camren Taylor eager for return to action

Camren Taylor has spent virtually his entire life as a multi-sport athlete, most notably on the football and basketball circuits. 

Nothing, he says, will ever top basketball.

COMEBACK CAM --- Lausanne Collegiate School basketball standout Camren Taylor missed all of last season because of injury. The rising sophomore has spent months rehabbing and is expected to resume play this upcoming season. (Photos submitted by Toby Taylor)

COMEBACK CAM — Lausanne Collegiate School basketball standout Camren Taylor missed all of last season because of injury. The rising sophomore has spent months rehabbing and is expected to resume play this upcoming season. (Photos submitted by Toby Taylor)

“I like basketball more than I do football,” Taylor told MemphiSport during a recent interview.
To get a thorough understanding out why Taylor has gained a fond admiration for hoops, look no further than his continuous rise on the court in recent years.

GREAT ADDITION --- Camren's contributions as a eighth grader helped propelled Lausanne to a state championship two years ago.

GREAT ADDITION — Camren’s contributions as a eighth grader helped propelled Lausanne to a state championship two years ago.

Despite missing his entire freshman season for Memphis’ Lausanne Collegiate School — the same institution that produced Memphis Grizzlies All-Star Marc Gasol — Taylor was as good as advertised.

To his credit, he reaped the benefits of his solid display.

During the Lynx’s TSSAA Division 2-A state title run two seasons ago, for instance, the 6-foot-4 swingman performed superbly as an eighth grade varsity player for a team that finished the year with a 25-5 mark.

With that came an array of accolades for a newcomer who has already been dubbed a three-star recruit by TNPrepHoops.com and Future150.com.

Among the honors:

Taylor was rated the No. 7-ranked newcomer in the state by Future150.com and the 68th overall prospect for the Class of 2017.

Camren Taylor with Lausanne head coach Kenneth White.

Camren Taylor with Lausanne head coach Kenneth White.

In addition, he was named to the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Boys Basketball Impact List. Also, he was named Most Valuable Player of Memphis’ Competitive Basketball League (CBL) in 2010 and has made his presence felt on the AAU circuit in recent years, particularly with the Memphis Pharaohs, Memphis War Eagles, Team Penny, and Mike Miller’s M33M AAU programs.

Currently, Taylor is ranked as the No. 20 prospect for the Class of 2017 by TNPrepHoops.com.

While his basketball prowess has been well-documented in recent years, this past year had been somewhat tumultuous for a kid whom many believe boasts a bright basketball future.

Last year, Taylor developed Osteochondritis Dissecean (or OCD). OCD is a condition of the knee in which a piece of the bone (or cartilage) separates from its surrounding area and lacks blood supply. The bone then becomes loosen and eventually cracks.

According to Taylor’s father, Toby Taylor, his son developed this injury over about a “two-year period” without any symptoms until he was at a basketball workout last summer and witnessed his knee buckle. Consequently, he developed severe pain and swelling at that time. An MRI later confirmed the diagnosis.

For Toby Taylor, the news of his son’s injury was difficult to stomach, in large part because he had started to earn the reputation as one of finest up-and-coming high school players in the Shelby-Metro area.

“As parents, this was disappointing because he would be out of sports for an extended period of time,” Toby Taylor explained. “Sports have been a huge part if our life since he was three years old playing recreational sports. He started playing competitive basketball at 10 years of age. He had skills training five-to-six days a week since the age of 10 until his injury when he wasn’t playing. We were hurting because we knew he was hurting and disappointed as well.”

Luckily for Camren, his basketball future wasn’t put in jeopardy, although he was sidelined as a freshman for Lausanne. Nowadays, he is recouping comfortably from his injury and has even begun taking part in individual workouts.

 “I have just finished up physical therapy a few weeks ago,” Camren said. “Now I go to the gym everyday and get on the elliptical for 30 minutes. After I get done with that, I lift weights. First, I do arms then I do legs. When I do legs, I do more on my right leg then left so I can get it just as strong. Then after that, I go to the gym and put up 100 free throws each day. I will be doing this until I am able to run and jump again.”

Although doctors held Camren out of AAU action this summer, he is expected to resume full contact drills in the coming weeks.

Despite an injury that sidelined him last season, recruiters did not back off from showing interest. According to Toby Taylor, Camren has generated interest from Arkansas State, Xavier and nearby Union University. Camren is expected to make a full recovery and boasts aspirations of playing at the collegiate level.

“If I earn a college scholarship in basketball, I will feel like all the hard work has paid off,” Camren said. “The ultimate goal is to get my education. And I will be able to further my education without using my parents’ money.”
Spoken like a true freshman, one who’s destined to have a huge impact, even in his household.

DreColumnAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also is the NBA Southwest Division reporter. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Rick Pitino labels Kevin Ware’s injury ‘most difficult moment’ of his coaching career

 

NATIONAL CHAMPION --- Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino (center) speaks with South Florida coach Stan Heath (left) and Central Florida coach Donnie Jones Wednesday morning during the American Athletic Conference Media Day festivities in FedExForum. Pitino lead the Cardinals to their third national title last year. (Photo by Andre Johnson)

NATIONAL CHAMPION — Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino (center) speaks with South Florida coach Stan Heath (left) and Central Florida coach Donnie Jones Wednesday morning during the American Athletic Conference Media Day festivities in FedExForum. Pitino lead the Cardinals to their third national title last year. (Photo by Andre Johnson)

Six months removed from having led the school to its third national championship, Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said during Wednesday’s inaugural American Athletic Conference Media Day in FedExForum that what he deemed mostly intriguing about last year’s title run was how the nation rallied around his program during what he describes as the “most difficult moment” of a coaching career that spans nearly four decades.

Pitino was referring to the horrific injury sustained by then-sophomore guard Kevin Ware, who fractured his right leg on national television against Duke in the Elite Eight game while trying to block a three-point attempt by Tyler Thorton, but landed awkwardly.

Coaches and players from both teams as well as a majority of the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd were visibly bewildered by Ware’s injury. Pitino, witnessing Ware lay motionless on the court, was overcome by emotions while doctors tended to the fallen player with just over six minutes remaining in the first half. Fortunately for the Cardinals, they managed to pull together on behalf of Ware, a Bronx, N. Y. native who relocated to the Atlanta area to play high school ball. Louisville went on to defeat Duke to seize to its second consecutive Final Four berth, ironically in Atlanta, where they edged Michigan, 82-76, in the national title game as Ware witnessed it all unfold behind the Cardinals’ bench.

“I think it was a very difficult thing to look at, being up close and personal,” Pitino told MemphiSport. “And then it was very difficult to see the emotion of your basketball players when that happened. But I think obviously I have a lot to be proud of personally. I was so proud for the emotion and love my team showed for Kevin and vice versa and the courage he showed. I think it was a great story because of the spontaneous emotions of both parties.”

Although Louisville, which led, 35-32, at the half against Duke, outscored the Blue Devils, 50-31, in the second half and coasted to an 85-63 victory to advance to the national semifinals, Pitino said it wasn’t until after he visited Ware at a nearby Indianapolis hospital and got a positive prognosis from doctors that he finally was able to savor what had transpired against Duke.

“I was relieved because when I went to the hospital that night, the doctor said, ‘We have 48 hours to get by the infection and he will make a full recovery,’” Pitino explained. “When that was told to me, I was able to relish in the fact that we were going to another Final Four.”

A number of current and former professional athletes reached out to Ware to offer their support

Louisville forward Luke Hancock was among those who confronted teammate Kevin Ware after his gruesome leg injury in the Elite Eight game against Duke in March. (Getty Images photo)

Louisville forward Luke Hancock was among those who consoled teammate Kevin Ware after his gruesome leg injury in the Elite Eight game against Duke in March. (Getty Images photo)

and well wishes in the aftermath of his freak injury. Surprisingly, months before the Cardinals were scheduled to visit the White House to commemorate their third NCAA crown with President Obama, Ware fielded a phone call Michelle Obama.

As for when the 6-foot-4 Ware — who reportedly was seen dunking a basketball six months after his gruesome injury — will return to full drills, that still remains unclear, Pitino said. The Cardinals begin practice this week and open defense of their national title Nov. 9 against the College of Charleston in the Hall of Fame Classic. Louisville, which finished 35-5 last year, is ranked as high as No. 2 in several preseason polls, most notably the Associated Press Top 25.

“I really don’t know how to answer that because he’s training…retraining his mind and his leg to get back on the basketball court,” said Pitino, when asked if there is a timetable for Ware’s return. “I think the physical (aspect) is going to be easier than the psychological. But Kevin’s a pretty mentally tough kid. I don’t think it’s a major problem. But we’re really about a month away from seeing him compete.”

Also on Wednesday, Pitino said he is pleased that Louisville and Memphis will resume playing twice a year for the first time since the 2004-2005 campaign when the schools were members of Conference USA. Memphis comes to the American from C-USA. The Cardinals became an AAC entrant after spending the past eight years in the Big East.

“We’re going to continue to play Memphis because it is our longest and one of our best rivalries,” said Pitino, who was named to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame the same day the Cardinals won the national title. It’s a great city. I thought it was a natural to have the (AAC) tournament here, which we’re very excited about. Memphis, I think, has top 10 fan support in the United States. And it’s great to continue our long relationship.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.