Marion (Ark.) High senior Allen Latham, Jr. generating late interests from colleges

STOCK RISING --- To his credit, he certainly appears on track to possibly suiting up in a college uniform in the coming months, considering Allen Latham, Jr. was invited recently to put his mechanics on display before the coaching staff at Harding University, a Division 2 school in Searcy, Arkansas.

STOCK RISINGTo his credit, he certainly appears on track to possibly suiting up in a college uniform in the coming months, considering Allen Latham, Jr. was invited recently to put his mechanics on display before the coaching staff at Harding University, a Division 2 school in Searcy, Arkansas.

Allen Latham, Jr. was asked recently to assess his senior campaign for the Marion (Arkansas) High basketball team.

“I think it went really well,” Latham, Jr. told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. Then after pausing momentarily, Latham Jr. recalled arguably his grandest memory of his final season of major prep basketball.

“I had a breakout game of 31 points and being the team captain, that led to me being a leader on and off the court,” Latham, Jr. said.

Now that his prep hoops tenure has ended, the 6-foot-2, 187-pound swingman is now clinging to lofty aspirations of extending his athletic talents at the collegiate level.

To his credit, he certainly appears on track to possibly suiting up in a college uniform in the coming months, considering Latham, Jr. was invited recently to put his mechanics on display before the coaching staff at Harding University, a Division 2 school in Searcy, Arkansas.

Although the 18-year-old Latham, Jr. has yet to garner any official offers, he has acquired some interest and qualified academically, according to his father, Allen Latham, Sr.

DAD KNOWS BEST --- Although the 18-year-old Latham, Jr. has yet to garner any official offers, he has qualified academically, according to his father, Allen Latham, Sr. For the past couple of weeks, Latham, Sr. has been quite complimentary of his son, saying, among other things, that he has exceeded expectations on and off the court and that he is worthy of having a shot of fulfilling his dream of playing college basketball.

DAD KNOWS BESTAlthough the 18-year-old Latham, Jr. has yet to garner any official offers, he has qualified academically, according to his father, Allen Latham, Sr. For the past couple of weeks, Latham, Sr. has been quite complimentary of his son, saying, among other things, that he has exceeded expectations on and off the court and that he is worthy of having a shot of fulfilling his dream of playing college basketball.

For the past couple of weeks, Latham, Sr. has been quite complimentary of his son, saying, among other things, that he has exceeded expectations on and off the court and that he is worthy of having a shot of fulfilling his dream of playing college basketball.

“He began playing (basketball) at the age of six,” Latham, Sr. said of his son, whom he said also generated interest from Arkansas Tech and Ecclesia College in Springdale, Arkansas.

Ever since his child first dribbled and launched a basketball toward a goal, the elder Latham knew his son would ultimately find his niche in the sport.

This past season, unlike any other, it seemed he had done just that, something by which he hopes college scouts and recruiters will subsequently take into account in the foreseeable future.

“He has a lot of talent and potential to do well in this sport,” Latham, Sr. said. “He had (a number of) good games (this past season), he didn’t get hurt, and he played team ball.”

Indeed he did.

pat3In leading coach Irving Clay’s Patriots in scoring at better than 13 points per game, Latham appeared in 25 of Marion’s 26 outings and, by season’s end, the Patriots’ late-season surge gave way to a 14-12 finish and a No. 43 overall ranking in the state in a final poll released by Maxpreps.com.

A pretty impressive resume for a talented swingman who doesn’t shy away from the notion that he’s aiming to make a favorable impression upon scouts — much sooner than later.

“I’m a solid shooter who can handle the ball and who is willing to go 110 percent and continue to work hard,” Latham, Jr. said, when asked what he’d like to say to recruiters. “(Basketball) is the love of my life. My whole life has been created to school, serving God, and basketball. I won’t stop now.”

That was quite evident this past season at Marion.



AndreEDITOR’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 memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Forrest City High’s Timothy Pendleton adjusting nicely to major prep basketball

Pen3FORREST CITY, Arkansas — Timothy Pendleton was asked recently how often does he works out and spends time upgrading his mechanics and fundamentals.

“I work out every day after school and on weekdays,” the Forrest City (Ark.) High freshman athlete said.

Aside from his immense workout and conditioning sessions, it doesn’t take much to get Pendleton to talk about his love for basketball, alone his lofty ambitions for why he plays.

Said Pendleton when asked about to reveal his strengths: “I can get to the basket with ease and finish the shot.”

Said Pendleton when asked to assess his weaknesses: “My biggest weakness is thinking too much when I get the ball.”

Said Pendleton when asked how he will spend his offseason: “I will be in the gym as much as possible working on my skills and playing against tough competition.”

By and large, squaring off against stiff competition is nothing new to the 6-foot, 15-year-old Pendleton who, to his credit, wasted little time making his presence felt.

In quickly finding his niche for the Mustangs, Pendleton provided masterful contributions, particularly from an offensive standpoint.

QUICK LEARNER --- In quickly finding his niche for a Forrest City (Ark.) High squad that finished 136th nationally by Maxpreps.com and is expected to vie for a state crown next season, Timothy Pendleton provided masterful contributions, particularly from an offensive standpoint. He averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds per game for Forrest City coach Dwight Lofton’s team, and spent a major of his freshman campaign having played multiple positions.

FAST LEARNERIn quickly finding his niche, Timothy Pendleton provided masterful contributions, particularly from an offensive standpoint.
He averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds per game for Forrest City coach Chris Williams’ team, and spent a major of his freshman campaign having played multiple positions.

He averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds per game for Forrest City coach Chris Williams’ ninth-grade team, and spent a major of his freshman campaign having played multiple positions.

Truth be told, for a newcomer who appeared destined to make a favorable impression on his coaches and teammates, Pendleton would be the first tell you that his primary focus was to get in where he fit it.

SIBLING LOVE --- Timothy is extremely close to is sister, Tamia Pendleton, who's a student at the University of Arkansas at Conway.

SIBLING LOVETimothy is extremely close to is sister, Tamia Pendleton, who’s a student at the University of Arkansas at Conway.

Fortunately for him, he managed to fit in superbly while preparing to play varsity ball nextseason.

“Timothy has been playing ball ever since he could walk,” said Teisha Lee, Pendleton’s mother. “His grandfather was a ball player and city league coach; his uncles and aunt were also ball players. He couldn’t get away from it. I am a proud mama. I look at basketball as a mean to help further his education so he can get his degree and be a productive, young, black man.”

Interesting enough, attending her son’s game is adventure, of sorts, for Lee.

MOM KNOWS BEST --- “Timothy has been playing ball ever since he could walk,” said Teisha Lee, Pendleton’s mother. “His grandfather was a ball player and city league coach; his uncles and aunt were also ball players. He couldn't get away from it. I am a proud mama. I look at basketball as a mean to help further his education so he can get his degree and be a productive, young, black man.”

MOM KNOWS BEST“Timothy has been playing ball ever since he could walk,” said Teisha Lee, Pendleton’s mother. “His grandfather was a ball player and city league coach; his uncles and aunt were also ball players. He couldn’t get away from it. I am a proud mama. I look at basketball as a mean to help further his education so he can get his degree and be a productive, young, black man.”

“When I watch Timothy play, that proud and loud mother comes out,” Lee explained. “Everyone knows who I am. I am the loudest in the bleachers.”

And in what figures to be a busy offseason on the AAU circuit for Jonesboro’s JB Fireballs, coupled with regular workouts, Pendleton is clinging to hopes that his progress on the court will ring loud and clear before college scouts and recruiters.

“It’s been my dream since I was little (to play college basketball) and I just have a great passion for the game,” said Pendleton, who is scheduled to attend the Future 150 Underclassmen Camp in Antioch, Tennessee in June. “I’d love to do what I love in college.”

If he keeps at this dazzling pace, chances are his long-awaited dream will become a reality.



 

AndreEDITOR’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 memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

 

 

Andrew Bess aiming to boost stock as a projected starter for perennial power Craigmont

drew2Andrew Bess was asked recently to assess his overall display this past season on the Memphis’ tradition-rich basketball circuit.

While the Craigmont High sophomore swingman was pleased with the strides he made for the perennial power Chiefs, he is quick acknowledge that his best and brighter days are well ahead of him.

After all, Bess knows full well that he’s undoubtedly faced with a golden opportunity of making a favorable impression on college scouts and recruiters, in large part because:

HUGE UPGRADE --- After a brief stint for nearly Marion (Arkansas) High, Taylor were among those who never took Andrew Bess’ skills for granted, a discovery that ultimately gave way to the swingman’s family having transferring him roughly 10 miles across the Mississippi bridge to nearby Craigmont. Fortunately for Andrew Bess, it appeared to have been a transition worth making, in large part because Taylor and his staff allowed his the chance to put his mechanic and fundamentals on display for a program that customarily has been one of the area’s finest in recent years.

HUGE UPGRADEAfter a brief stint for nearly Marion (Arkansas) High, Taylor were among those who never took Andrew Bess’ skills for granted, a discovery that ultimately gave way to the swingman’s family having transferring him roughly 10 miles across the Mississippi bridge to nearby Craigmont.
Fortunately for Andrew Bess, it appeared to have been a transition worth making, in large part because Taylor and his staff allowed his the chance to put his mechanic and fundamentals on display for a program that customarily has been one of the area’s finest in recent years.

No. 1: He plays for one Shelby-Metro’s finest and most successful head coaches in Craigmont’s David Taylor and,

No. 2: He still has two full seasons of major varsity basketball ahead on him, meaning if the 6-foot-5 1/2, 159-pounder can continue to be the coacheable, talented kid for which he’s widely known, then the possibility exist that he could find himself signing a much-anticipated National Letter of Intent before his prep career ends, something his mother, Melissa Bess — his grandest supporter — has envisioned for quite some time for her son.

“I don’t have any (letters) from any colleges yet,” Andrew Bess told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview.

Because he is expected to be amongst Craigmont’s key contributors next season, that could all change if Andrew Bess proves he’s as good as advertised.

To his credit, he will certainly be afforded the opportunity to demonstrate that he boasts the skills and poise to handle major high school basketball.

For starters, after a brief stint for nearly Marion (Arkansas) High, Taylor were among those who never took Andrew Bess’ skills for granted, a discovery that ultimately gave way to the swingman’s family having transferred him roughly 10 miles across the Mississippi bridge to nearby Craigmont.

Fortunately for Andrew Bess, it appeared to have been a transition worth making, in large part because Taylor and his staff allowed him the chance to put his mechanic and fundamentals on display for a program that customarily has been one of the area’s finest in recent years.

Craigmont ended the 2015-16 season with a 22-10 mark, capped by a No. 45 overall ranking in Tennessee, according to a season-ending poll released by Maxpreps.com.

In helping the Chiefs enjoy a winning campaign, Andrew Bess didn’t witness varsity action until the latter stages of the season, or during a time when players — most notably underclassmen — show could very well be a sign of things to come.

PITCHING IN --- Craigmont ended the 2015-16 season with a 22-10 mark, capped by a No. 45 overall ranking in Tennessee, according to a season-ending poll released by Maxpreps.com. In helping the Chiefs enjoy a winning campaign, Andrew Bess didn’t witness varsity action until the latter stages of the season, or during a time when players --- most notably underclassmen --- show could very well be a sign of things to come.

PITCHING INCraigmont ended the 2015-16 season with a 22-10 mark, capped by a No. 45 overall ranking in Tennessee, according to a season-ending poll released by Maxpreps.com.
In helping the Chiefs enjoy a winning campaign, Andrew Bess didn’t witness varsity action until the latter stages of the season, or during a time when players — most notably underclassmen — show could very well be a sign of things to come.

That’s exactly what Andrew Bess had done and, to his credit, his contributions have caused Taylor to serious consider installing him in the starting rotation next season.

What a difference a change in scenery has made.

“My biggest strength is height, and my ability to get rebounds,” Andrew Bess said. “My weaknesses are that I can’t handle the ball as well as I should and that I don’t have the best of jump shots.”

He plans to fine-tuned those mechanics this summer while putting his skills on display on the always-competitive Mid-South-area AAU circuit.

Looking ahead, Andrew Bess reiterated that his primary focuses are to do whatever is necessary to help Craigmont remain relevant program and to lure the attention of scouts and recruiters.

“I would like the recruiters to know that I have a high motor and that I have the potential to become a great athlete,” Andrew Bess said. “I do push-ups every other day and I run and play basketball around the neighborhood.”

Effective trends he hopes would ultimately give way to his landing a free education in the coming years.



 

AndreEDITOR’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 memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Memphian Nik Jackson’s JBAKARI Clothing spreading the good news, providing swag

One thing about Nik Jackson, he’s surely one who stays true to who he is.

Take, for instance, how the 41-year-old Jackson had gone to great lengths to pursuing a career as a professional truck driver.

jak2Nine years after earning his diploma from Memphis Trezevant High, Jackson enrolled at Tennessee Technology trade school, where he had taken the required courses necessary to landing employment in his selected field.

To his credit, he passed in flying colors, which ultimately gave way to a compelling truck-driving a career that is comprised of job stability and security.

Still, he didn’t stop there.

A TRUE TALENT --- Just like possessing a job to drive trucks, he’s making his presence felt in his latest ambition, a trend that appears to have drawn rave reviews from his grandest of supporters, far and near. Memphis-based business owner Nik Jackson is owner and chief executive officer of JBAKARI Clothing Company, a rising, trendy-savvy, stylish apparel establishment that, in Jackson’s own word, was built “on the word of God inspires you through cotton.”

A TRUE TALENTJust like possessing a job to drive trucks, he’s making his presence felt in his latest ambition, a trend that appears to have drawn rave reviews from his grandest of supporters, far and near.
Memphis-based business owner Nik Jackson is owner and chief executive officer of JBAKARI Clothing Company, a rising, trendy-savvy, stylish apparel establishment that, in Jackson’s own word, was built “on the word of God inspires you through cotton.”

Aside from traveling throughout the country for his employer, Jackson clung to yet another lofty endeavor for which he wanted to pursue.

Just like possessing a job to drive trucks, he’s making his presence felt in his latest ambition, a trend that appears to have drawn rave reviews from his grandest of supporters, far and near.

Jackson is owner and chief executive officer of JBAKARI Clothing Company, a rising, trendy-savvy, stylish apparel establishment that, in Jackson’s own word, was built “on the word of God inspires you through cotton.”

“It gives each piece a sense of royalty,” Jackson said during a recent interview with longtime journalist Andre Johnson.

yuThat proverbial “royalty” spark isn’t all JBAKARI Clothing offers consumers, particularly as it pertains to the life-enhancing, compassionate message and mission for which Jackson’s clothing line was established.

JBAKARI Clothing also offers what Jackson describes as pictorial scripture designs that uplifts motivates, encourages, and keeps customers entertained through humor.

jak8In a nutshell, as far as Jackson is concerned, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with spreading the gospel and lifting up Christ with a catchy, comic message applied to it because, regardless of the message, nothing supersedes or surpasses the word of God.

jak“The competitive drive in sports propelled me in my business venture by being focused on one goal at a time,” Jackson, a former “street and backyard basketball” player, said of his reasoning and mission behind his business. “Working hard and making faith moves toward a desired result is what I like most about my business. It is the creativity of the designs and how they bless people when they see them and wear them (is what’s so appealing).”

ON A MISSION --- Nine years after earning his diploma from Memphis Trezevant High, Jackson enrolled at Tennessee Technology trade school, where he had taken the required courses necessary to landing employment in his selected field. To his credit, he passed in flying colors, which ultimately gave way to a compelling truck-driving a career that is comprised of job stability and security. Still, he didn’t stop there.

ON A MISSIONNine years after earning his diploma from Memphis Trezevant High, Jackson enrolled at Tennessee Technology trade school, where he had taken the required courses necessary to landing employment in his selected field.
To his credit, he passed in flying colors, which ultimately gave way to a compelling truck-driving a career that is comprised of job stability and security.
Still, he didn’t stop there.

A compelling, attracting product that resembles that of Polo Sport and Tommy Hilfiger, JBAKARI clothing caters to all races, nationalities, and various cultures of people.

By and large, Jackson said starting his clothing line was inspired largely through the entrepreneurial success of Sean P. Diddy Combs and Ralph Lauren.

Don’t blink now.

SHOP JBAKARI Clothing ONLINE:  jbakariclothing.deco-apparel.com

JBAKARI Clothing is not only steadily evolving as a fashion statement and progressive trend for all, but this rising clothing is making a strong case that it could very well be around for some time.

weAfter all, that’s exactly how Jackson has envisioned it from the outset.

“My personal mission for doing this work is to win souls into the kingdom of heaven,” Jackson explained. “I have been doing this since 2001. I think that it is imperative that I esteem others daily because people need hope and they need to know that Jesus loves them.”

Which, to Jackson’s credit, is why JBAKARI Clothing makes all of the sense in the world.

As he tells it, there’s nothing bad about lifting up Jesus and dressing cool — and with swag — in the process.

Said Jackson: “JBAKARI stands for going forward: Jesus brings-About Kindness And Right Insight. Going backwards: I Receives All Knowledge About Beautiful Jesus.”

Yep. That’s quite typical of Jackson, a rising clothing designer, let alone one who stays true to who he is.

That is a child of the Most High God.



AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, athlete, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

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 memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Memphian Christie Henry having a Texas-size impact as a flourishing singer and model

DALLAS — Say what you want about Christie Henry.

But when to comes to chasing dreams and ensuring that they become a reality, no one has to give her some long, exhausting motivational speech.

4Ever since her youth, particularly when she had become of age to grasp a thorough understanding of what it means to maximize her potential, Henry steadfastly adopted a persona that suggests, among other things, that falling short of fulfilling her goals and ambitions weren’t option.

If nothing else, because of her devout faith, coupled with the resiliency for which she was taught, Henry’s reputation is such that she customarily aspires to see from beyond where she is.

In a nutshell, she’s one who doesn’t settle.

Rather, she’s one who goes to great lengths to make things happen.

“I thought I was one step closer to pursuing my dream,” Henry said during an interview Friday afternoon with longtime journalist Andre Johnson. “But God has a great way of revealing your true purpose.”

MEMPHIS MADE --- Ever since her youth in growing up in Memphis, particularly when she had become of age to grasp a thorough understanding of what it means to maximize her potential, Dallas-based model and singer Christie Henry steadfastly adopted a persona that suggests, among other things, that falling short of fulfilling her goals and ambitions weren’t option.

MEMPHIS MADEEver since her youth in growing up in Memphis, particularly when she had become of age to grasp a thorough understanding of what it means to maximize her potential, Dallas-based model and singer Christie Henry steadfastly adopted a persona that suggests, among other things, that falling short of fulfilling her goals and ambitions weren’t option.

A Memphis native and graduate of Fairley High, the 25-year-old Henry is alluding largely to the events and circumstances surrounding her recent relocation to the Dallas Fort-Worth area.

Upon graduating high school in the top 10 percent of her class, Henry enrolled at nearby University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where she studied Mass Communications and was a member of the school’s internationally-acclaimed marching band known as The Marching Musical Machines Of The Mid-South. In addition, she joined the college’s modeling club, gospel choir, and student council.

That’s when change ultimately took place. An assortment of changes, that is.

“After a heart-to-heart convo with my mentor, I decided to transfer to The University of Memphis to pursue a degree in Music and film,” Henry explained.
Still, her tenure at the U of M was short-lived, considering it had become increasingly evident that if Henry aspired to become more effective in her element, a move away from her native hometown was essential.

CHASING GREATNESS --- Upon graduating high school in the top 10 percent of her class, Henry enrolled at nearby University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where she studied Mass Communications and was a member of the school’s internationally-acclaimed marching band known as The Marching Musical Machines Of The Mid-South. In addition, she joined the college’s modeling club, gospel choir, and student council.

CHASING GREATNESSUpon graduating high school in the top 10 percent of her class, Henry enrolled at nearby University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where she studied Mass Communications and was a member of the school’s internationally-acclaimed marching band known as The Marching Musical Machines Of The Mid-South. In addition, she joined the college’s modeling club, gospel choir, and student council.

On to Dallas, Texas she went.

Given the immense strides she’s made in such a brief time in the Lone Star state, it’s safe to assume that her unlikely relocation was a risk worth taking.

“After some serious prayer, I decided to pack my bags and leave for Texas to pursue my music career full time and attend a music or fine arts institution to better my craft,” Henry said.

CHECK OUT CHRISTIE HENRY IN ACTION: https://youtu.be/j379iIs5MxE

Fortunately for this rising model and avid singer, Texas undoubtedly appears to be the ideal establishment. Since her arrival here, Henry has been afforded an assortment of opportunities to broaden her horizon, considering she has become a fixture and featured singing guest at the Hoops Restaurant Bar & Lounge during its Live Jazz Sunday Brunch.

Located in Carrollton, Texas, Henry customarily performs during Hoops Restaurant Bar & Lounge’s brunch times, which usually is between 1 and 3:30 pm.

TEXAS-SIZE IMPACT --- Given the immense strides she’s made in such a brief time in the Lone Star state, it’s safe to assume that her unlikely relocation was a risk worth taking. “After some serious prayer, I decided to pack my bags and leave for Texas to pursue my music career full time and attend a music or fine arts institution to better my craft,” Henry said.

TEXAS-SIZE IMPACTGiven the immense strides she’s made in such a brief time in the Lone Star state, it’s safe to assume that her unlikely relocation was a risk worth taking.
“After some serious prayer, I decided to pack my bags and leave for Texas to pursue my music career full time and attend a music or fine arts institution to better my craft,” Henry said.

A singer for the past two decades, Henry had gained a fond admiration for music, given she had become a fixture for entering talent shows and talent expos as a way to generate exposure and demonstrate to her listening audience that she could soar to immense heights in this ever-so-popular industry.

“Now I’m here in Dallas, making my dreams come true with my Father in Heaven by my side,” Henry said with a smile.

To her credit, she has every reason to display her signature, attractive smile that, along with her mesmerizing vocals, has enabled her to become one with lofty modeling aspirations.

“I love the fact that I can be myself throughout this journey that God has destined me to be on,” Henry explained. “I also love the fact that I am able to give back by helping others with their music programs at their church and learning centers here in Dallas, and encouraging others to go after their dreams as well.”

Looking back, it is because of the past struggles through which her mother, Andrea Henry-Houston, and other loved ones had weathered that greatly helped shaped Henry into the progressive, flourishing woman of color for which she is widely known.

RISING STAR --- Henry has been afforded an assortment of opportunities to broaden her horizon, considering she has become a fixture and featured singing guest at the Hoops Restaurant Bar & Lounge during its Live Jazz Sunday Brunch. Located in Carrolton, Texas, Henry customarily performs during Hoops Restaurant Bar & Lounge’s brunch times, which usually is between 1 and 3:30 pm.

RISING STARHenry has been afforded an assortment of opportunities to broaden her horizon, considering she has become a fixture and featured singing guest at the Hoops Restaurant Bar & Lounge during its Live Jazz Sunday Brunch.
Located in Carrolton, Texas, Henry customarily performs during Hoops Restaurant Bar & Lounge’s brunch times, which usually is between 1 and 3:30 pm.

In both Tennessee and Texas.

“My mother Andrea Henry-Houston, my grandmother Catherine Henry, and cousin Dedra Thomas…these women showed me what hard work and perseverance can do,” Christie Henry said. They were all single mothers in the struggle who were trying to make a better life for me. Every band competition, talent show, etc., they were there along with other family members. With all that is going on in our family, from struggles, deaths, financial issues, and more, they continued to press through and make it happen for our family.”

10As for the critics and naysayers, Christie Henry said, “I would have to hear people say, ‘You’re not going to be serious about being an artist’ or they get upset when I share my life dreams. But I could always count on my mom to intervene and just say, ‘You can do or be whatever as long as God is first in your life and you put the work behind it.’”

The rest, as they say, it history.

Roughly a few months removed from having bolted Memphis for a city that’s nearly three times the size of her native hometown, Christie Henry hasn’t shown any signs of a letdown, much less shown any signs that she’s planning to slow it down anytime soon.

No. No time soon.

Not with so much success at stake.

Say what you want about her.

But Christie Henry is doing it big in the state where doing things big is a part of the norm.

How ‘bout that.

“In all that you do, you’ve got to put God first, in the middle, and at the end of it,” Christie Henry said. “You can never go wrong when He’s involved.”

She would know.

Because when to comes to chasing dreams and ensuring that they become a reality, no one has to give her some long, exhausting motivational speech.



AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an honor student, entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, athlete, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

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 memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Stephen Curry isn’t focused on MVP, wants champs to eclipse Bulls’ 72-win mark

SIZZLIN' STEPH ---  In a year in which Curry, the league’s leading scorer at 30.3 points per game, has been nothing short of remarkable in having engineered Golden State to the best start in NBA history when the Warriors reeled off 24 consecutive wins to begin the season, it would be hard-pressed to find anyone capable of surpassing him as the conjectural favorite for MVP. (Brandon Wade/AP Photos)

SIZZLIN’ STEPHIn a year in which Curry, the league’s leading scorer at 30.3 points per game, has been nothing short of remarkable in having engineered Golden State to the best start in NBA history when the Warriors reeled off 24 consecutive wins to begin the season, it would be hard-pressed to find anyone capable of surpassing him as the conjectural favorite for MVP. (Brandon Wade/AP Photos)

DALLAS — Last year, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry seized the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in rather impressive fashion, having garnered 100 of the 130 first-place votes while compiling 1,198 total points from a nationwide panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

This year, with the three-time All-Star being dubbed the presumptive front-runner to capture the NBA’s most covenant individual award in consecutive seasons, Curry quickly acknowledged that isn’t his primary focus.

“I’m not worried about that,” Curry, a seven-year veteran, told MemphiSport following Friday’s shoot around session in Dallas’ American Airlines Center. “There’ll come a time where that decision will happen. I go out every night playing as if I want to help my team get wins and do my part of being consistent and efficient as I can be. And that’s my focus.”

In a year in which Curry, the league’s scoring leader at 30.3 points per game, has been nothing short of remarkable in having engineered Golden State to the best start in NBA history when the Warriors reeled off 24 consecutive wins to begin the season, it would be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s capable of surpassing him as the conjectural MVP favorite.

Besides being the league’s top scorer, Curry is second in free throw percentage and third in three-point field goal efficiency, having made 45.7 percent of his shots from long range.

Add to the fact that the high-powered Warriors, who improved to an NBA’s best 63-7 with Monday night’s win at Minnesota — the team that’s responsible for ending their 24-game undefeated streak to start the season — and are on pace to eclipse the Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 record they amassed during their 1995-96 championship season, and it’s no wonder Curry in all likelihood will continue to field questions as to whether he thinks he’s well on his way to walking away with more MVP hardware.

“Obviously, team success leads to accolades and that’s our mission right now,” said Curry who, last year, led Golden State to its first world championship in 30 years when the Warriors upended the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games of their NBA Finals best-of-7 series.

STAYING FOCUSED --- When asked if failing to surpass the Bulls’ historic 72-win plateau serve as motivation heading into the postseason, Curry, who turned 28 March 14, paused briefly then said, “I would hope we have that same motivation either way. Winning a championship is the ultimate goal, and a regular season regular record, whether we have 73 wins, 69 wins, or 68, it doesn’t bear any difference on how we’re going to do in the playoffs.”

STAYING FOCUSEDWhen asked if failing to surpass the Bulls’ historic 72-win plateau serve as motivation heading into the postseason, Curry, who turned 28 March 14, paused briefly then said, “I would hope we have that same motivation either way. Winning a championship is the ultimate goal, and a regular season regular record, whether we have 73 wins, 69 wins, or 68, it doesn’t bear any difference on how we’re going to do in the playoffs.”

As far as this year’s league MVP talks go, Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Friday was quick to say that there is Curry, and then there is everyone else, although he doesn’t believe the former Davidson College star will be the unanimous favorite to win the award.

“I’d be shocked if he doesn’t win it with the kind of season he’s had and we’ve had,” said Kerr, when asked if Curry is the front-runner. “But there are always several great candidates. But it’ll be tough imagining Steph not winning it.”

A little more than a week removed from having clinched the Pacific Division and their fourth consecutive postseason berth, Curry reiterated that individual awards are the least of the Warriors’ concerns, considering they undoubtedly are everyone’s biggest game and have yet to clinch home court advantage throughout the postseason for a second consecutive year.

Golden State leads second-place San Antonio (59-11) by four games in the West with 12 regular season games remaining.

When asked if failing to surpass the Bulls’ historic 72-win plateau serve as motivation heading into the postseason, Curry, who turned 28 March 14, paused briefly then said, “I would hope we have that same motivation either way. Winning a championship is the ultimate goal, and a regular season record, whether we have 73 wins, 69 wins, or 68, it doesn’t bear any difference on how we’re going to do in the playoffs.”

Then without hesitation, Curry offered this notable suggestion:

JUST BEING BLUNT --- As far as this year’s league MVP talks go, Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Friday was quick to say that there is Curry and then everyone else, although he doesn’t believe the former Davidson College star will be the unanimous favorite to win the award. “I’d be shocked if he doesn’t win it with the kind of season he’s had and we’ve had,” said Kerr, when asked if Curry is the frontrunner. “But there are always several great candidates. But it’ll be tough imagining Steph not winning it.”

JUST BEING BLUNTAs far as this year’s league MVP talks go, Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Friday was quick to say that there is Curry and then everyone else, although he doesn’t believe the former Davidson College star will be the unanimous favorite to win the award.
“I’d be shocked if he doesn’t win it with the kind of season he’s had and we’ve had,” said Kerr, when asked if Curry is the frontrunner. “But there are always several great candidates. But it’ll be tough imagining Steph not winning it.”

“But I know we don’t want to be the team that gets the record and doesn’t win (a championship),” Curry said. “That’s what the Bulls did. They finished the job, obviously. Whatever our record is, that’s great. But playoff success is a totally different animal. Your record is zero and zero once you get into that first round.”

When asked, “Deep down inside, do you want to get this record?” Curry paused again then said, “There’s a reason you’re still talking about the 95-96 Bulls team, so yes, that would be a huge accomplishment. I’ve always said we want to do it with the big picture in mind. I think we can accomplish both if we stay true to who we are and not get distracted by playing for the record as opposed to playing for the bigger goal.”

Spoken like a player in postseason form.



 

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: Cottonwood (Alabama) High Jonathan ‘Case’ Granger destined to land a scholarship as team’s most versatile player

COTTONWOOD, Alabama — In case you don’t know him, Jonathan ‘Case’ Chalked Granger would like to introduce himself.

MAKING A SOLID CASE --- Cottonwood (Alabama) High baseball standout Jonathan 'Case' Chalked Granger is, by all accounts, arguably the Bears’ most durable and efficient player, considering Granger has developed a keen reputation for playing multiple positions, sometimes as many as three or, perhaps, four. He hopes college scouts will take into account his ability to be versatile on the diamond. (Photos submitted by P. Pylant)

MAKING A SOLID CASE — Cottonwood (Alabama) High baseball standout Jonathan ‘Case’ Chalked Granger is, by all accounts, arguably the Bears’ most durable and efficient player, considering Granger has developed a keen reputation for playing multiple positions, sometimes as many as three or, perhaps, four. He hopes college scouts will take into account his ability to be versatile on the diamond. (Photos submitted by P. Pylant)

For starters, Granger stands at 6-foot-3 in height, good enough to occupy a swingman position on a basketball court.

Secondly, he’s a senior baseball standout for Cottonwood (Alabama) High, where he’s started varsity since he was a true freshman.

He is, by all accounts, arguably the Bears’ most durable and efficient player, considering Granger has developed a keen reputation for playing multiple positions, sometimes as many as three or, perhaps, four.

LOVE AND BASEBALL --- The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Granger doesn’t shy away from the notion that baseball has become a lifestyle, of sorts, for him ever since he first began playing competitively at the age of three. “I would like for the recruiters to know that baseball is more than important to me and I can't imagine my life without baseball being a part of it,” Granger said during a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson.

LOVE AND BASEBALLThe 6-foot-3, 218-pound Granger doesn’t shy away from the notion that baseball has become a lifestyle, of sorts, for him ever since he first began playing competitively at the age of three.
“I would like for the recruiters to know that baseball is more than important to me and I can’t imagine my life without baseball being a part of it,” Granger said during a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson.

As if that isn’t enough, Granger not only deems it necessary to introduce himself but, above all, he has a forthright message to college scouts and recruiters, so pay attention.

After all, he doesn’t shy away from the notion that baseball has become a lifestyle, of sorts, for him ever since he first began playing competitively at the age of three.

“I would like for the recruiters to know that baseball is more than important to me and I can’t imagine my life without baseball being a part of it,” Granger said during a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “I have a great work ethic. I’m a team player. I’ll go wherever (my coaches) needs me to go. I will study plays and strategies and know them like the back of my hand, and I will train hard so that I can be the best possible.”

WHAT YOU SAID --- “I train everyday...it may be 30 minutes on some days, but I'm always thinking baseball,” Granger said. “I think my biggest strengths are my abilities as a pitcher. I also have a good batting average and my error percentage is very low. I spent my last two summers playing travel ball and working out.”

WHAT YOU SAID“I train everyday…it may be 30 minutes on some days, but I’m always thinking baseball,” Granger said. “I think my biggest strengths are my abilities as a pitcher. I also have a good batting average and my error percentage is very low. I spent my last two summers playing travel ball and working out.”

To his credit, the 18-year-old Granger has emerged as the catalyst of Cottonwood coach Danny Coachman’s team, in large part because he has proven time and again that he’s willing to adjust and playing multiple position — something that in all likelihood will draw rave reviews from college coaches, coupled with his attractive size.

Add to the fact that Granger’s baseball IQ is second to none and that he is considered to be in favorable shape for a kid who boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate level, and it’s no wonder he appears destined to wear a college baseball uniform around this time next year.

In a nutshell, many who have witnessed his progress on the baseball diamond in recent years would agree that this Granger undoubtedly possess the smarts to play at the next level.

“I train everyday…it may be 30 minutes on some days, but I’m always thinking baseball,” Granger said. “I think my biggest strengths are my abilities as a pitcher. I also have a good batting average and my error percentage is very low. I spent my last two summers playing travel ball and working out.”

This year, as usual, Granger hinted that he plans to stick with the same routine, maybe tweaking his mechanics here and there.

Regardless, he knows full well that until he inks a National Letter of Intent, he must continue to make a strong case that he’s auditioning for an athletic scholarship, something that would bring huge smiles to the faces of his grandest supporters.

Mom especially.

CHASING GREATNESS --- Regardless, he knows full well that until he inks a National Letter of Intent, he must continue to make a strong case that he’s auditioning for an athletic scholarship, something that would bring huge smiles to the faces of his grandest supporters.

CHASING GREATNESSRegardless, he knows full well that until he inks a National Letter of Intent, he must continue to make a strong case that he’s auditioning for an athletic scholarship, something that would bring huge smiles to the faces of his grandest supporters.

“When I watch Case perform, I am always nervous because I realize a lot depends on the pitcher to get the job done,” explained Pam Clayton Pylant, Granger’s mother. “But Case seems to take each game in stride…one pitch, one hit at a time. We have traveled all over Alabama and Florida going to showcases and travel ball games and enjoyed every minute of it. If Case is not playing, he is practicing.”

Something about which Granger’s family hope college scouts and recruiters will take into account in the coming weeks.

“I would love to play ball at the next level and see what God has in store for me after that,” Granger said. “I am from a small school that doesn’t get a lot of exposure. Some junior colleges have expressed interest, but nothing official yet.”

Stay tuned.

Chances are the recruiting process for this baseball prodigy is about to turn up.



Andre

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 memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: Cottonwood (Ala.) High baseball standout Cody McCardle aiming to impress college scouts

CodyCOTTONWOOD, Alabama — They are virtually inseparable, especially on that baseball diamond.

Ben.

Cody.

Cody.

Ben.

Cody is the big brother. Ben is the little brother.

Both were born two years apart. Still, the close-knit bond they’ve established throughout the years through the sport of baseball brings great joy to their mother, Kim McCardle.

In fact, according to Stacy and Kim McCardle, while she is impressed with how well Ben McCardle has adjusted to varsity baseball for Cottonwood (Ala.) High, she’s admittedly doing whatever is necessary to help Cody McCardle — who also stars for Cottonwood — acquire the essential exposure that will enable him to generate interest from college scouts and recruiters.

STOCK RISING --- Cottonwood baseball standout Cody McCardle doesn’t shy away from the notion that he’s clinging to lofty aspirations of playing baseball at the collegiate level. “I am open to different colleges because my major is Physical Education,” Cody McCardle, who boasts of aspirations of coaching sports someday, told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I feel I can make a difference in the lives of kids who love sports as I did when I was growing up.”

STOCK RISINGCottonwood baseball standout Cody McCardle doesn’t shy away from the notion that he’s clinging to lofty aspirations of playing baseball at the collegiate level.
“I am open to different colleges because my major is Physical Education,” Cody McCardle, who boasts of aspirations of coaching sports someday, told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I feel I can make a difference in the lives of kids who love sports as I did when I was growing up.”

After all, Cody McCardle doesn’t shy away from the notion that he’s clinging to lofty aspirations of playing baseball at the collegiate level.

According to Cody McCardle, he has reached out to a host of schools to inquire about the possibility of playing baseball, most notably Lurleen B. Wallace in Andalusia, Alabama, Auburn University at Montgomery, Faulkner, Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College in Georgia, and West Alabama.

“I am open to different colleges because my major is Physical Education,” Cody McCardle, who boasts of aspirations of coaching sports someday, told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I feel I can make a difference in the lives of kids who love sports as I did when I was growing up.”

Among the reasons Cody McCardle, one of the key contributors for Cottonwood’s tradition-rich baseball team that is coached by Danny Coachman, has acquired an interest for coaching athletics in the future is due in large part to the work ethic he’s produced while playing alongside his brother.

Cody and Ben have become workout buddies throughout the years, a trend that has benefited them mightily, a pivotal attribute that could prove beneficial, considering the work ethic of athletes is something by which scouts take into account when evaluating and recruiting talent.

MAKING PROGRESS --- Amongst Cody’s key strengths as a prep baseball player who’s aiming to turn heads of scouts is that he has what he describes as “quick hands,” let alone emerging as a player who has become a quick and fast outfielder who is able to cover a lot of ground as competitive middle infielder.

MAKING PROGRESSAmongst Cody’s key strengths as a prep baseball player who’s aiming to turn heads of scouts is that he has what he describes as “quick hands,” let alone emerging as a player who has become a quick and fast outfielder who is able to cover a lot of ground as competitive middle infielder.

“My brother and I help coach Upward basketball at our church and we have always helped with coaching our little brother’s baseball team, football team, and the Upward basket program,” Cody McCardle said.

Most importantly, at least as it pertains to enhancing his skills set and mechanics, Cody McCardle acknowledges that working out and conditioning with his brother has inspired him immensely in recent years.

“I train about six days a week and with my brother,” Cody McCardle said. “We will just head out to the baseball field to practice our hitting year around. I can field in tough situations, trying to make a play when that play doesn’t seem possible.

As for conditioning away from the diamond, Cody McCardle said, “I spend my time weight and strength training and with the ball field being three minutes from our house. We are always taking batting practice.”

Fortunately for Cody, as oddly as it seems, that his family owns a farm has also helped him to evolve as a durable, efficient prep student athlete.

“We own a family farm and, during summer months, we pick and load thousands of watermelons and cantaloupes all day long in the South Alabama heat,” Cody McCardle said with a grin. “So I am used to these situations that have helped with my endurance on the field.”

Cody5Amongst Cody’s key strengths as a prep baseball player who’s aiming to turn heads of scouts is that he has what he describes as “quick hands,” let alone emerging as a player who has become a quick and fast outfielder who is able to cover a lot of ground as competitive middle infielder.

“I am very dedicated to the sport of baseball,” Cody said. “I have been playing since I was three years old. I am hard-working and dedicated (to the sport). I am flexible to where I can play mostly any position.”

All of which routinely bring smiles to the faces of those who make up the McCardle household.

Mom especially.

“We just love watching all of the kids play, but it’s exciting to see two brothers working together with the team,” Kim McCardle said. “Cody has this way of getting to balls infield and outfield that otherwise I thought have been impossible to stop. When we see him lay down a bunt and beat it to first (base), we are thrilled. “He loves baseball and sports enough to major in it after high school. Sometimes the smallest guy doesn’t get a shot but as he says, ‘They haven’t met me yet and small packages have the best competition.’”

Spoken like a prep baseball standout whose dreams include playing at the collegiate level.



 

AndreEDITOR’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 memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Ex-Memphis Central basketball star Danielle Ballard aiming for a new start in WNBA

Despite been dubbed arguably one of the best players in LSU women’s basketball history, Danielle Ballard still senses she has so much to prove.

DYNAMIC DANIELLE --- Just as she has done at the high school and collegiate ranks, former Memphis Central and ex-LSU star Danielle Ballard has been nothing short of impressive, leading Espoo in scoring, averaging 18.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. The 22-year-old Ballard is now aiming for a roster spot in the WNBA.

DYNAMIC DANIELLEJust as she has done at the high school and collegiate ranks, former Memphis Central and ex-LSU star Danielle Ballard has been nothing short of impressive, leading Espoo of Finland in scoring, averaging 18.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. The 22-year-old Ballard is now aiming for a roster spot in the WNBA.

“Well the best thing is to be myself and to let (people) know who I really am as a player,” Ballard told MemphiSport earlier this week. “You can tell that I am a good person. People already know that I work hard. But the most important thing is growth and that’s what I want to show people…that I have grown as young lady.”

Ballard is alluding primarily to her somewhat troublesome career at Memphis Central High, coupled with her unceremonious ending to her tenure at LSU.

Last June, LSU coach Nikki Caldwell announced that Ballard, who was first-team All-SEC last year as junior, would not return for her senior season, news that had surfaced after the star point guard was suspended the first 14 games of the 2014-15 season for violating team rules.

Prior to witnessing her collegiate career end prematurely, Ballard was the catalyst of an upstart Lady Tiger team that made consecutive NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances.

To her credit, though, she wasted little time making her presence felt at LSU, where she enjoyed a record-setting freshman campaign when she amassed a school-record 100 steals while making 28 starts in 34 appearances.

Although her college career was unceremoniously cut short, the 22-year-old Ballard clung to lofty hopes of playing professionally, having taken her talents overseas, where she currently is the featured player for the Espoo Team in Finland.

Just as she has done at the high school and collegiate ranks, she has been nothing short of impressive, leading Espoo in scoring, averaging 18.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game.

FIGHTIN' TIGER --- Prior to witnessing her collegiate career end prematurely, Ballard was the catalyst of an upstart Lady Tiger team that made consecutive NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances. (Photo by Crystal LoGiudice/Getty Images)

FIGHTIN’ TIGERPrior to witnessing her collegiate career end prematurely, Ballard was the catalyst of an upstart Lady Tiger team that made consecutive NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances. (Photo by Crystal LoGiudice/Getty Images)

“What I like about playing overseas is experiencing how it is living on the other side of the world and seeing how others players play the game of basketball,” Ballard said. “I must say they have a different kind of toughness about them, and that’s very interesting because it’s totally different from the U.S. because for them, it’s mostly a hobby. For us, it’s a dream.”

According to Ballard, while her tenure at LSU ended prematurely, she hopes WNBA general managers will take into consideration her overall body of work in helping the Lady Tigers re-emerge as a national standout.

Ballard, who led Memphis Central to the TSSAA Class AAA state championship as a junior, helped propelled LSU to the NCAA Tournament in each of her three seasons at the school.

“Coming into college, I wasn’t excepting to break many records as a freshman and so on,” Ballard said.

Now that she’s facing what appears arguably the greatest challenge of her basketball career, Ballard admittedly has taken ownership of her past off-the-court behavior, but believes she’s worthy of a chance to play on women’s basketball’s grandest stage — the WNBA.

According to her agent of 610 Sports Management, Ballard is scheduled to attend the invitation only ProHoops Cobine April 2 in Indianapolis, where she will be evaluated by WNBA coaches and other staff members before the draft, which will be held later that month.

“We have been in contact with a lot of teams about Danielle over the recent weeks,” said Ballard’s agent, who did not want to be identified. “We have heard about the same thing from them. All of them know she is a special talent. The main question is, ‘How has she matured?’ Our answer on this has been, Se has grown up a lot over the seven months. Being in Finland, she is learning how to be a professional as she is learning it is a business now.

RISING STAR --- Ballard, who led Memphis Central to the TSSAA Class AAA state championship as a junior, helped propelled LSU to the NCAA Tournament in each of her three seasons at the school.

RISING STARBallard, who led Memphis Central to the TSSAA Class AAA state championship as a junior, helped propelled LSU to the NCAA Tournament in each of her three seasons at the school. (Photo courtesy of LSU Athletics)

“Danielle knows she is not fighting for a Pell grant, but for a living now, and I believe (playing overseas) has really helped her mature,” Ballard’s agent added. “We as a company have seen her grow over these seven months just in conversations.”

Still, whether WNBA coaches and GMs will recognize how much Ballard has handled her off-the-court maturation process remains a mystery.
Fortunately for the talented point guard, she’ll be afforded the chance to prove herself in the coming weeks.

Once again.

“My coaches instilled in my mind that nothing is easy,” Ballard said. “Everything is earned.”

Most notably the chance to appear on women’s basketball’s grandest stage.



AndreAndre 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 memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

North Carolina prep hoops standout Josh Nickelberry boosting recruiting stock, says his father, a native Memphian

Josh2Without question, Josh Nickelberry enjoyed what undoubtedly was a coming-out-party in this, his freshman season of major high school basketball.

For starters, Nickelberry was the catalyst of a Northwood Temple Academy team that erased the memory of last year’s 13-16 finish by ending the year with an 18-9 mark that was highlighted by a NCISAA Carolina Christian regular season title.

As if that wasn’t enough to draw rave reviews from Northwood coach Chris Lattimer and his staff, Nickelberry was the Eagles’ second-leading scorer, averaging better than 15 points per game.

Add to the fact that his attractive size — 6-foot-4 — for a newcomer, coupled with his keen ability to inspire those alongside him to flourish, and it’s no wonder letters of interest from a slew of colleges arrived at Nickelberry’s residence quicker than he managed to fill up the stat sheet.

According to Nickelberry’s father, Gerald Nickelberry, his son has fielded letters from a number of major Division 1 schools, a list that includes the University of North Carolina, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Virginia Commonwealth, Oregon, Maryland, Xavier, College of Charleston, Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgetown, Howard University, and North Carolina-Charlotte.

STAR WATCH --- According to Nickelberry’s father, Gerald Nickelberry, his son has fielded letters from a number of major Division 1 schools, a list that includes the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia Commonwealth, Oregon, Maryland, Xavier, College of Charleston, Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgetown, Howard University, and North Carolina-Charlotte.

STAR WATCHAccording to Nickelberry’s father, Gerald Nickelberry, his son has fielded letters from a number of major Division 1 schools, a list that includes the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia Commonwealth, Oregon, Maryland, Xavier, College of Charleston, Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgetown, Howard University, and North Carolina-Charlotte.

In addition, Gerald Nickelberry — a former Memphis Melrose football standout — said his son has been extended unofficial visits to UNC, Georgetown, NC State, Maryland, VCU, Howard, and that an unofficial visit to Xavier is currently in the works. Josh Nickelberry has taken part in an unofficial visit to Wake Forest.

In assessing his son’s overall display in his second full season as a starter, Gerald Nickelberry said things couldn’t have turned out better for Josh Nickelberry who, prior to the season, was considered North Carolina’s No. 1 shooting guard for the Class of 2019.

To Josh Nickelberry’s credit, he was as good as advertised, thus making a favorable impression on a laundry list of recruiters.

“Joshua is a much more mature player this year with regards to basketball IQ, shot selection and a feel for the game,” Gerald Nickelberry told longtime journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “ At 14, he already has the poise and feel for the game that guys much older than he possess. Joshua is also a greatly improved defender. This was a point of emphasis in the offseason and in our daily preparation. He is the team leader in deflections and amongst the leaders in steals. As some prominent scouts in the region say when they see him play, ‘Joshua simply has the it factor.’”

HIGH RISER --- In leading Northwood in scorer, Josh registered more than 400 points, coupled with an ALL NCISAA Carolina Christian Conference selection for a second straight year --- the youngest player to ever accomplish such a feat. In addition, he was amongst the team leaders in minutes played, having generated approximately 29 minutes per contest.

HIGH RISERIn leading Northwood in scorer, Josh registered more than 400 points, coupled with an ALL NCISAA Carolina Christian Conference selection for a second straight year — the youngest player to ever accomplish such a feat.
In addition, he was amongst the team leaders in minutes played, having generated approximately 29 minutes per contest.

In a nutshell, as Josh Nickelberry goes, so goes Northwood. At least, that apparently was the case this season.

In leading Northwood in scorer, Josh registered more than 400 points, coupled with an ALL NCISAA Carolina Christian Conference selection for a second straight year — the youngest player to ever accomplish such a feat.

In addition, he was amongst the team leaders in minutes played, having generated approximately 29 minutes per contest.

As for drawing the attention of an assortment of major schools, Josh Nickelberry hinted that now is not the time to become complacent, considering there is so much basketball left to play, let alone so much progress to be made.

Gerald and Josh Nickelberry pose with Wake Forest head basketball coach Danny Manning.

Gerald and Josh Nickelberry pose with Wake Forest head basketball coach Danny Manning.

“It is fun,” Josh Nickelberry said of the early hoopla surrounding his recruiting process. “But I also know that I have to keep working hard and improving every day. I have enjoyed the schools that I have visited. I also greatly appreciate getting the opportunity to meet members of the coaching staffs, including the head coaches. I feel blessed to have visited (those schools) this early in my high school career, which has motivated me even more. But I also keep it in perspective and don’t let any of it go to my head. I have good people around me who help me with that as well. We always talk about staying in the moment and staying hungry and humble.”

Amongst the reasons is that what already is a remarkable list of major colleges inquiring about Josh Nickelberry figures to certainly become a longer one in the foreseeable future.

 



AndreEDITOR’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 memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.