North Carolina-area prep basketball star Josh Nickelberry invited to Team USA minicamp in Colorado, picks up scholarship offers

eeeeNo one has to remind Josh Nickelberry of how things were going for him around this time last year.

In fact, he’d be the first to tell you he recalls all too well.

I’m blessed to have the offers that I do,” Nickelberry told MemphiSport during an interview from Fayetteville, North Carolina. “I remember last year around this time, I was barely known, so the offers show that all my hard work is paying off and I’m on the right path.”

Fortunately for Nickelberry, a rising sophomore shooting guard for Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina, he was the beneficiary recently of another remarkable honor, one that was a testament of his overall body of work in recent months.

Rated as the No. 1 shooting guard in North Carolina for the Class of 2019, Nickelberry has been invited to a USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Minicamp.

The four-day event, which will feature the top players in the classes of 2019 and 2020, will be held October 7-10 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and it will help determine the rosters for the upcoming FIBA Americas Tournament and future Hoop Summit games.

“I’m very excited,” Nickelberry said of his latest accolade. “It’s an honor to have an opportunity to represent my country.”

hhhhhhhhhNot only that, Nickelberry’s latest milestone undoubtedly will expand what is already a pretty attractive list of scholarship offers for the 6-foot-5 standout, who boasts immense athleticism in large part because of his remarkable leaping ability. .

With three full seasons of prep basketball ahead of him, Nickelberry has already garnered official offers from Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Providence, Baylor, VCU, Penn State and Howard.

He spent last season playing at Northwood Temple Academy before ultimately transferring to Trinity Christian, where he’s been nothing short of impression.

When word spread of Nickelberry’s invite to next month’s minicamp, no one was as thrilled as Gerald Nickelberry, Josh’s father and arguably his grandest supporter.

A native of Memphis, Gerald Nickelberry is a former football standout at perennial power Melrose.

A RELATED STORY: http://memphisport.com/2015/10/mid-south-recruiting-son-of-orange-mound-native-rated-as-north-carolinas-top-sg-for-class-of-2019/.

“It was obviously exciting and humbling,” Gerald Nickelberry said his son’s latest achievement. “It is quite an accomplishment, but at the same time, it is validation that with a strong faith in God, coupled with hard work, anything is possible and achievable. We are proud of Josh. He has embraced this opportunity and he is focused. His time in the gym training and preparing reflects that.”

In addition, his stellar work ethic and steadfast desire to progress has boost his recruiting stick mightily, according to various recruiting experts, many of whom has listed Josh Nickelberry amongst the Top 60 players in the country for the Class of 2019.

STOCK RISING --- Josh Nickelberry, a rising sophomore shooting guard for Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina, he was the beneficiary recently of another remarkable honor, one that was a testament of his overall body of work in recent months. Rated as the No. 1 shooting guard in North Carolina for the Class of 2019, Nickelberry has been invited to a USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Minicamp. The four-day event, which will feature the top players in the classes of 2019 and 2020, will be held October 7-10 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and it will help determine the rosters for the upcoming FIBA Americas Tournament and future Hoop Summit games.

STOCK RISINGJosh Nickelberry, a rising sophomore shooting guard for Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina, he was the beneficiary recently of another remarkable honor, one that was a testament of his overall body of work in recent months. Rated as the No. 1 shooting guard in North Carolina for the Class of 2019, Nickelberry has been invited to a USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Minicamp.
The four-day event, which will feature the top players in the classes of 2019 and 2020, will be held October 7-10 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and it will help determine the rosters for the upcoming FIBA Americas Tournament and future Hoop Summit games.

This season at Trinity Christian, he will team up with fellow rising sophomore, 6-foot-7 Joey Baker, another highly-recruited standout who has been ranked amongst the ESPN’s Top 25 players nationally for the class of 2019 during rankings that were released in mid-August.

Amongst the reasons that Josh Nickelberry’s stock had risen is that he appeared in the prestigious Super Sophomore Camp in Atlanta, where he led the entire camp in scoring, as well as in six other major categories.

A RELATED STORY: http://memphisport.com/2016/03/north-carolina-prep-hoops-standout-josh-nickelberry-boosting-recruiting-stock-says-his-father-a-native-memphian/.

In addition, he was as good as advertised on the AAU circuit, where he averaged better than 25 points per game this summer for Team Loaded of North Carolina.

“These paths couple months, I’ve just been recovering from the summer but maintaining my strength and skills,” Josh Nickelberry said. “I’ve been working very hard trying to get ready for the upcoming season and the USA minicamp.”

What a difference a year has made.



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nEDITOR’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.

 

Mississippi Valley State swingman Vacha Vaughn has ‘unfinished’ business heading into senior campaign

VALLEY HOOP DREAMS --- In this, his upcoming senior season for the Delta Devils of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Vacha Vaughn figures to finally manufacture the breakthrough season that will give way to greater opportunities for the former Memphis Mitchell High standout. Greater as in being afforded the luxury of putting his immense skills on display at the professional level. (Photos courtesy of MVSU Athletics)

VALLEY HOOP DREAMSIn this, his upcoming senior season for the Delta Devils of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Vacha Vaughn figures to finally manufacture the breakthrough season that will give way to greater opportunities for the former Memphis Mitchell High standout. Greater as in being afforded the luxury of putting his immense skills on display at the professional level. (Photos courtesy of MVSU Athletics)

When asked on Tuesday how would he assess his junior campaign, Mississippi Valley State swingman Vacha Vaughn was forthright and straight to the point.

By and large, he was only keeping it real.

In fact, he fielded the question as if he expected it.

“Unfinished,” Vaughn told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson.

That, after all, means one vital thing, as far as Vaughn is concerned.

In this, his upcoming season senior for the Delta Devils of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Vaughn figures to finally manufacture the breakthrough season that will give way to greater opportunities for the former Memphis Mitchell High standout.

Mississippi Valley State swingman Vacha Vaughn

Mississippi Valley State swingman Vacha Vaughn

Greater as in being afforded the luxury of putting his immense skills on display at the professional level.

“I spent my summer working a summer job and preparing for senior year of basketball,” Vaughn said.

All things considered, Vaughn would be the first to tell you that brushing up on his mechanics was essential as he readies for a pivotal final year of college eligibility for an MVSU team that limped to an 8-27 finished last season, including a 0-13 mark on the road in non-conference play.

For starters, Vaughn is coming off of what was a subpar junior campaign, although he made the necessary adjustments prior to last season that enabled him to enjoy valuable minutes.

NOT DONE YET --- All things considered, Vaughn would be the first to tell you that brushing up on his mechanics was essential as he readies for a pivotal final year of college eligibility for an MVSU team that limped to an 8-27 finished last season, including a 0-13 mark on the road in non-conference play.

NOT DONE YETAll things considered, Vaughn would be the first to tell you that brushing up on his mechanics was essential as he readies for a pivotal final year of college eligibility for an MVSU team that limped to an 8-27 finished last season, including a 0-13 mark on the road in non-conference play.

Of MVSU’s 35 games, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Vaughn made a career-best 34 appearances, averaging 3.9 points while making nearly 68 percent of his field goals.

Add to the fact that he averaged a compelling 20.2 minutes of action and was remarkably aggressive on the boards — he averaged a career-high 4.4 rebounds — and it’s no wonder Vaughn is clinging to lofty aspirations of beefing up his stock as the Delta Devils prepare to open camp in approximately one month.

He registered a career-high of 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 25 minutes last year in a losing effort against Tennessee Tech.

“I am very hard-working,” Vaughn said of his offseason workouts. “I love being in the gym and around basketball. Every day, there is always room for improvement.”

Which, to Vaughn’s credit, is his primary focus heading into his final season of collegiate ball.

KEY CONTRIBUTOR --- Of MVSU’s 35 games, the 6-foot-4 Vaughn made a career-best 34 appearances, averaging 3.9 points while making nearly 68 percent of his field goals.

KEY CONTRIBUTOROf MVSU’s 35 games last year, the 6-foot-4 Vaughn made a career-best 34 appearances, averaging 3.9 points while making nearly 68 percent of his field goals.

Having been the catalyst of a tradition-rich Mitchell program that has emerged as a Shelby-Metro-area dynasty with three consecutive state championships, the 22-year-old Vaughn chose MVSU after having garnered offers from Lane College, Jacksonville University, and Victory University during his stellar prep stint in the basketball-crazed Bluff City.

Now, as he looks ahead with great expectancy to what figures to a long awaited coming-out-party, of sorts, this year for MVSU, he knows full well he’ll have at his disposal a golden opportunity to excel — and make a favorable impression upon pro scouts — for a Delta Devil squad that will aiming to atone for last year’s disastrous finish.

Not only is Vaughn confident he will be as good as advertised as a senior, but his mother, Alesia Franklin, will undoubtedly make regular trips to Itta Bena, Mississippi to watch her son perform in what figures to be a banner season.

“The sky is the limit for my son because he works very hard at what he does,” Franklin said. “He first began playing basketball at Chickasaw Middle but always (played it) as a kid. College basketball is so important for him because it is fun and he loves to play the sport.”

Not only that, someone who’s extremely close to Vaughn is monitoring him closely.

NOT SATISFIED, HE SAID --- “I am very hard-working,” Vaughn said of his offseason workouts. “I love being in the gym and around basketball. Every day, there is always room for improvement.”

NOT SATISFIED, HE SAID“I am very hard-working,” Vaughn said of his offseason workouts. “I love being in the gym and around basketball. Every day, there is always room for improvement.”

“He’s a good role model because his little brother looks up to him and some of the other kids in the neighborhood,” Franklin said. “And the sport keeps him physically fit and it allows him to develop skills, strategies, and communication with others that plays the same sport. I would like to add that anything is possible with God who strengthens us.”

All of which generally explains why the 2016-17 season is arguably the most important of Vaughn’s basketball career.

All of which virtually explains why he isn’t merely satisfied at this stage in his college hoops career.

“Unfinished,” Vaughn said.

With a straight face.



 

12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and you would like an in depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre T. Johnson at 901-690-6587, or Facebook message him under Andre T. Johnson for details.

ABOUT ANDRE: A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former sportswriter for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest  Division and the NFL. To read him, send email to: memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Amid controversy, Colin Kaepernick had better win early and often in 2016

12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nDALLAS — Without question, I am a diehard San Francisco 49ers fan, have been for the past three-plus decades.

And for someone who has actually interviewed and had one-on-one conversations with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, I think he’s a tremendously compassionate and talented guy.

Heck, the guy, all while displaying his signature grin, even asked if he could have the Niners cufflinks I wore in the visitors’ locker room following San Francisco’s game at the Tennessee Titans in September 2014.

MUCH TO PROVE? San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been subject of ongoing criticism amid his sideline national anthem protests. But will his blatant actions translate into wins this upcoming season for a 49ers team that hasn't reached the playoffs since 2013? (Photo by Jim Gensheimer/Getty Images

SO MUCH TO PROVE? San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been the subject of seemingly ongoing criticism amid his sideline national anthem protests. But will his blatant pregame actions translate into wins this upcoming season for a 49ers team that hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2013? (Photo by Jim Gensheimer/Getty Images)

Regardless, in the wake of this seemingly ongoing controversy surrounding the veteran All-Pro quarterback, this is my forthright take on what obviously has become a public relations fiasco for a team that’s expected to be one of the NFL’s worst in 2016.

All things considered, it would be in Kaepernick’s best interest to win early and often this upcoming season, especially if he’s named the starting signal caller for a struggling 49ers team that hasn’t sniffed the postseason in two consecutive seasons.

Anything short of a drastic improvement from the previous two seasons, anything short of why Kaepernick had emerged as the NFL’s most feared dual-threat quarterback under ex-Niners coach Jim Harbaugh’s regime, anything short of a playoff berth or even a near-playoff-clinch would undoubtedly give way to more backlash for an overpaid, underachieving quarterback who, quite frankly, still hasn’t learned the basic fundamentals of reading defenses and, unfortunately, has so much to atone for on the field to even be mentioned in the same breath as, say, fellow NFC West quarterback and Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson.

In essence, while I do not, in any shape or form, oppose to Kaepernick’s sideline national anthem protest that consequently has generated excessive headlines, I do, nonetheless, sense his blatant, dauntless actions will undoubtedly give way to his performance under center being monitored even more closely in 2016, especially by new head coach Chip Kelly and team officials.

Which, of course, in Kaepernick’s case, he had better accomplish at least one of the following feats:

SAN FRANCISCO TREAT? Anything short of a drastic improvement from the previous two seasons, anything short of why Kaepernick had emerged as the NFL's most feared dual-threat quarterback under ex-Niners coach Jim Harbaugh's regime, anything short of playoff berth or even a near-playoff-berth would undoubtedly give way to more criticism for a quarterback who, quite frankly, still hasn't learned to the basic fundamentals of reading defenses and, unfortunately, has ohhh so much to atone for on the field to even be mentioned in the same breath as, say, fellow NFC West quarterback and Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

QUEST FOR WINS: Anything short of a drastic improvement from the previous two seasons, anything short of why Kaepernick had emerged as the NFL’s most feared dual-threat quarterback under ex-Niners coach Jim Harbaugh’s regime, anything short of playoff berth or even a near-playoff-berth would undoubtedly give way to more criticism for a quarterback who, quite frankly, still hasn’t learned to the basic fundamentals of reading defenses and, unfortunately, has ohhh so much to atone for on the field to even be mentioned in the same breath as, say, fellow NFC West quarterback and Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

 

Either he had better engineer the Niners to a somewhat respectable record this upcoming season, either he had better become the ringleader in helping the Niners silence critics and prognosticators by clinching an unlikely playoff berth, or he will surely become the most ridiculed quarterback in the league opposite Robert Griffin III.

For all the right reasons, too.

So for your sake, Kap, here’s hoping you go out and win games early and often this season for a team that hasn’t done much of that in recent years.

Here’s hoping you go out and win games so that you can finally prove that you are worth every penny of the six-year, $126 million extension you signed two summers ago.

And for your sake, here’s hoping you go out and win games so that you can return to kissing your biceps, thus demonstrating you have a leg to stand on.

Figuratively, of course.



Andre T. Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport.com. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA and NFL. To reach him, send email to: memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist. 

Professional massage therapist and dance choreographer Keith Clark thriving in Dallas/Fort Worth area

DALLAS — Keith Clark II was asked earlier this week to recall his past history as an athlete.

After pausing momentarily, the usual outspoken, yet modest Clark responded with the proverbial “Laughing Out Loud.”

TEXAS SIZE IMPACT --- Currently a resident of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Gary, Indiana native Keith Clark II is a professional Dancer/Instructor/Choreographer as well a Licensed Massage Therapist for a business venture he has deemed Revivify Massage Therapy. By and large, the 41-year-old Clark oversees a business called Keith Clark Collection (or KCC), which is an all natural line of skin care and aromatherapy “goodies” to assist in healing one's mind, body and emotions.

TEXAS SIZE IMPACTCurrently a resident of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Gary, Indiana native Keith Clark II is a professional Dancer/Instructor/Choreographer as well a Licensed Massage Therapist for a business venture he has deemed Revivify Massage Therapy. By and large, the 41-year-old Clark oversees a business called Keith Clark Collection (or KCC), which is an all natural line of skin care and aromatherapy “goodies” to assist in healing one’s mind, body and emotions. (Photo by B. Ellis Photography) 

“I (participated in) track (and field) on and off, then made the decision to dance,” Clark told longtime journalist during an exclusive interview “(LOL)…I didn’t complete one full season in track. (SMH)….”

While Clark’s past athletic tenure was rather short-lived, the Gary, Indiana native’s disposition was such that he steadfastly devised ways to broaden his horizon, embraced new challenges, thus took advantage of golden opportunities to excel.

In a nutshell, he’s widely known amongst his peers as one who customarily goes above and beyond to not just create a carefree lifestyle for himself but, most importantly, for those with whom he frequently crosses paths.

That, after all, practically sums up why Clark has delved off into the world of entrepreneurialship.

Currently a resident of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Clark is a professional Dancer/Instructor/Choreographer as well a Licensed Massage Therapist for a business venture he has deemed Revivify Massage Therapy.

mmmmBy and large, the 41-year-old Clark oversees a business called Keith Clark Collection (or KCC), which is an all natural line of skin care and aromatherapy “goodies” to assist in healing one’s mind, body and emotions.

“The reason I chose track is because it is a very individualized sport, where even though you are a team, ultimately your race is on your race,” said Clark, explaining the correlation between the competitive drive of sports and starting a business. “That same dedication, focus, individualism, grit, sweat and determination are needed when you decide to become an entrepreneur and/or step out on your own to start a business.”

Follow Keith on Social Media: Revivify on Facebook/renewrestorerecharge
Website: www.revivify.massagetherapy.com.
Follow KCC on Facebook & Instagram: @keithclarkcollection
Website: www.k2c.bigcartel.com.

If nothing else, Clark undoubtedly possesses the skills and durability, particularly as it pertains to running the business ventures about which he oversees.

aaaFor starters, he’s been diligently involved in dancing, teaching, choreographing for more than three decades and has become an efficient masseuse for the past 18 years (but has been officially licensed for six years.

“When I decided to leave the corporate world,” said Clark, a Purdue University graduate, “KCC about five years old…three years of trial and era and research, but actively selling for years.”

Moreover, Clark would be the first to admit that being a longtime massage therapist has its distinct advantages, of sorts.

yyy“Being a massage therapist, I see firsthand a lot of clients that are medicated and, believe it or not, a lot of these synthetic medications actually hinder the body from naturally healing itself,” Clark explained. “This is where KCC comes into play. As I began to research the benefits of aromatherapy via essential oils and natural alternatives to combat skin issues that some of my clients had, such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, and warts. Or emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, grief. And physical issues such as headaches, migraines, digestive, sinus, respiratory and circulation. So I started creating products that had proven results which led to my clients wanting to purchase what assisted in “healing” them. After two years of coaxing, sampling on friends and colleagues, KCC came to be.”

yyyyyyThe rest, as they say, is history.

Not only is it safe to assume that Clark is well-rounded and quite knowledgeable about his products but, to his credit, his business venture is starting to enhance the lives of his clients.

So much for trial and era.

eee“I love the fact that my very active background, from wanting to be a stunt man to running track to dancing has allowed me to get to know the ultimate piece of machinery, (which is) the human body,” Clark said. “This allows me to pin point the mechanical breakdown of a person’s musculature and try to assist clients in maintaining their body to perform daily activities. And for my athletic clients, optimizing their body to compete at higher levels.

zzzzMore than anything, Clark acknowledges, it is because of his unyielding faith that has elevated his business mightily.

“I am a believer in Christ,” Clark said. “When you know whose you are and why you are, your gifts and talents will make room for you. When one realizes their purpose in this life, you can’t help but to be obedient to the calling on your life — loving, sharing, and helping our fellow man/woman are imperative.”

Spoken like a true, progressive businessman.



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nEDITOR’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.

Shaw (Miss.) High swingman Anthony Jackson aiming for a banner senior campaign

aassAnthony D’Sean Jackson would be the first to tell you that he has a number of short-term goals and ambitions.

Among them:

Continue to make favorable grades in the classroom.

Continue to fine tune his basketball mechanics during what has been a busy offseason for the Shaw (Mississippi) High basketball standout.

And, most importantly, continue to steadfastly strive to solidify for a college athletic scholarship.

“I have a lot of Division II and III colleges looking at me but none of them contacted me besides the University of Mobile,” Jackson told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I have spoken with them about their school.”

Given the considerable strides he’s made, particularly during an efficient offseason in which he has been afforded the golden opportunity to upgrade his skills in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, chances are Jackson figures to garner some feedback from a number of other schools in the foreseeable future.

MAKING PROGRESS --- Given the considerable strides he’s made, particularly during an efficient offseason in which he has been afforded the golden opportunity to upgrade his skills in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, chances are Shaw High swingman Anthony Jackson figures to garner some feedback from a number of other schools in the foreseeable future. A 6-foot-1 swingman who averaged better than 8.1 points per game last season for an Antonio Davis-coached Shaw team that finished 20-9, Jackson in all likelihood will be expected to have a more vital role in what figures to be a banner campaign for a kid that boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate level.

MAKING PROGRESSGiven the considerable strides he’s made, particularly during an efficient offseason in which he has been afforded the golden opportunity to upgrade his skills in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, chances are Shaw High swingman Anthony Jackson figures to garner some feedback from a number of other schools in the foreseeable future.
A 6-foot-1 swingman who averaged better than 8.1 points per game last season for an Antonio Davis-coached Shaw team that finished 20-9, Jackson in all likelihood will be expected to have a more vital role in what figures to be a banner campaign for a kid that boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate level.

A 6-foot-1 swingman who averaged better than 8.1 points per game last season for an Antonio Davis-coached Shaw team that finished 20-9, Jackson in all likelihood will be expected to have a more vital role in what figures to be a banner campaign for a kid that boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate level.

In meantime, the 17-year-old Jackson has issued a direct, forthright message to those who might perhaps hasten to Shaw this fall to monitor his play.

“I would like recruiters to know that I am a small town kid that is very humble and dedicated to the sport,” Jackson said. “I am a very active and athletic two-way guard that can score the ball and defend as well. I’m welcomed to land anywhere that will accept me as a team player and that I’m willing to give my all to bring my talent to a new environment and home.”

All things considered, if Jackson ultimately fulfills his long-awaited dream of signing a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball, no one would be more appreciative and giddy than his mother, LaShunda Jackson.

A single, supportive mother of three and a native of Shaw, LaShunda Jackson said nothing would be more gratifying than to witness her son select the college of his choice in the coming months.

MOTHERLY LOVE --- All things considered, if Jackson ultimately fulfills his long-awaited dream of signing a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball, no one would be more appreciative and giddy than his mother, LaShunda Jackson. A single, supportive mother of three and a native of Shaw, LaShunda Jackson said nothing would be more gratifying than to witness her son select the college of his choice in the coming months.

MOTHERLY LOVEAll things considered, if Jackson ultimately fulfills his long-awaited dream of signing a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball, no one would be more appreciative and giddy than his mother, LaShunda Jackson (on right).
A single, supportive mother of three and a native of Shaw, LaShunda Jackson said nothing would be more gratifying than to witness her son select the college of his choice in the coming months.

“I never really engaged in him playing basketball until he was around fifth or sixth grade when a lot of people was telling me that he is a very bright kid for his age and he could take you somewhere far with his talent for basketball,” LaShunda Jackson explained. “Ever since then, I’ve supported him in every event he participated in as his No 1 fan.

According to LaShunda Jackson, there were times in which her son had represented the Jackson household mightily, particularly when she couldn’t make it to his games.

“I didn’t actually believe he was doing big things like people use to say he was doing,” she said. “Every time I didn’t show up at his games, people use to get on me about me not being (there).”

However, whenever mom made her to the gymnasium to watch Shaw play, her son was as good as advertised.

STOCK RISING? “I have a lot of Division II and III colleges looking at me but none of them contacted me besides the University of Mobile,” Jackson told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I have spoken with them about their school.”

STOCK RISING? “I have a lot of Division II and III colleges looking at me but none of them contacted me besides the University of Mobile,” Jackson told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I have spoken with them about their school.”

As if there were really any doubts.

“I saw him play for myself and he showed out for me,” LaShunda Jackson. “He didn’t always do his best when I showed up, but I will say he is a competitor.”

Speaking of the competitive drive for which Anthony Jackson is known for exemplifying, that is amongst the key attributes he hopes college scouts will take into account — sooner than later.

“I’m just putting in some grind and always trying to become the best player to play the game,” he said. “I didn’t have it easy growing up and it was hard getting through, but basketball was always there . Now that I’m older, I want to accomplish my dreams of being a very gratifying college player and maybe pushing my game to the NBA.”

Which, after all, is yet another of his lofty goals and ambitions.



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nEDITOR’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.

Whitehaven RB Chris Witherspoon using football to help cope with deaths of his three sisters

aaaFor Christopher Witherspoon, it all unfolded some 12 years old.

At the tender age of four at the time, Witherspoon began a game of toss and catch with a water bottle, moments after a youth football practice.

Little did he know, arguably his grandest supporter was right there, observing his every move.

“I picked Chris up for a game and he had a water bottle throwing up in the air back and forth,” Lee Witherspoon told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Wednesday. “And when he came to the car, I asked him, ‘What you were doing?’ He said, ‘I was practicing on my catching the football.’ I knew then that was his first love as a sport.”

The rest, as, they say, was history.

Twelve years removed from that memorable dialogue with his father, Lee Witherspoon has gone to great length to ensure that his son thrives and excels in a sport that for him, essentially has become a way a life.

 

STOCK RISING --- A former Lausanne Collegiate School standout who was the catalyst of a Lynx team that advanced to the second round of the TSSAA Division 2-A playoffs last year and finished 8-4, Chris Witherspoon will be aiming to pick up where he left off this fall, this time when he suits up for perennial power Memphis Whitehaven. A rising junior running back who stands at 5-foot-8 and weighs 180-pounds, Chris Witherspoon spent a majority of his stint at the private ranks assembling a solid resume in the backfield, considering Lausanne possessed an efficient rushing attack.

STOCK RISINGA former Lausanne Collegiate School standout who was the catalyst of a Lynx team that advanced to the second round of the TSSAA Division 2-A playoffs last year and finished 8-4, Chris Witherspoon will be aiming to pick up where he left off this fall, this time when he suits up for perennial power Memphis Whitehaven.
A rising junior running back who stands at 5-foot-8 and weighs 180-pounds, Chris Witherspoon spent a majority of his stint at the private ranks assembling a solid resume in the backfield, considering Lausanne possessed an efficient rushing attack.

Today, with the continuous backing and tireless support of his family, Chris Witherspoon is making a strong case that he’s destined to put his immense football skills on display at the collegiate level.

A former Lausanne Collegiate School standout who was the catalyst of a Lynx team that advanced to the second round of the TSSAA Division 2-A playoffs last year and finished 8-4, Chris Witherspoon will be aiming to pick up where he left off this fall, this time when he suits up for perennial power Memphis Whitehaven.

A rising junior running back who stands at 5-foot-8 and weighs 180-pounds, Chris Witherspoon spent a majority of his stint at the private ranks assembling a solid resume in the backfield, considering Lausanne possessed an efficient rushing attack.

To his credit, all he did was prove that Whitehaven coach Rodney Saulsberry has only reloaded his potent rushing attack, in large part because Chris Witherspoon’s 1,006 yards on the ground last year were tops on a Lausanne team that averaged 190.4 yards rushing per game.

RESPECT DA HAVEN --- To his credit, all he did was prove that Whitehaven coach Rodney Saulsberry has only reloaded his potent rushing attack, in large part because Chris Witherspoon’s 1,006 yards on the ground last year were tops on a Lausanne team that averaged 190.4 yards rushing per game. “Coach Saulsberry is the greatest thing to happen to me and my son,” Lee Witherspoon said.

RESPECT DA HAVENTo his credit, all Chris did was prove that Whitehaven coach Rodney Saulsberry has only reloaded his potent rushing attack, in large part because Chris Witherspoon’s 1,006 yards on the ground last year were tops on a Lausanne team that averaged 190.4 yards rushing per game.
“Coach Saulsberry is the greatest thing to happen to me and my son,” Lee Witherspoon said.

“Coach Saulsberry is the greatest thing to happen to me and my son,” Lee Witherspoon said. “Coach said Chris is an outstanding player and student of the game. Chris was a Whitehaven kid anyway, even though I took him to another school. Coach Saulsberry welcomes us with open arms. We love coach Saulsberry and his staff.”

What’s even more astounding is that the Whitehaven community and residents in the surrounding Memphis-metropolitan area have thoroughly embraced the Witherspoons in recent years, most notably during what undoubtedly were the darkest days of their lives.

On December 19, 1997, Lee Witherspoon’s three daughters, Ashlee (three years old), and twins Asia and Aleecia Witherspoon (18 months at the time), were killed in a house fire in the Orange Mound community in Northeast Memphis, news that sent shock waves through the city and Mid-South.

According to Lee Witherspoon, such an occurrence was a devastating time for his family, which relied on its unyielding faith in God and support of the community to help them cope with such tragedies.

For Lee Witherspoon, so devastating were the deaths of his babies that he admittedly contemplated taking his own life.

vvvv“When it happened, Chris’ mother was pregnant with his brother, Lee III, and I had to drive his mother to the hospital,” Lee Witherspoon explained. “And me… I tried being strong for her and our child. But one night, I blamed myself (for the babies’ deaths) and tried to commit suicide. But God had another plan for us.”

Years removed from such a life-altering experience, Chris doesn’t shy away from the notion that he’s using football as an outset, of sorts, with regards to coping with life without his beloved sisters.

HUGE LOSS --- On December 19, 1997, Chris Witherspoon’s three daughters, Ashlee (three years old), and twins Asia and Aleecia Witherspoon (18 months at the time), were killed in a house fire in the Orange Mound community in Northeast Memphis, news that sent shock waves through the city and Mid-South.

HUGE LOSSOn December 19, 1997, Chris Witherspoon’s three daughters, Ashlee (three years old), and twins Asia and Aleecia Witherspoon (18 months at the time), were killed in a house fire in the Orange Mound community in Northeast Memphis, news that sent shock waves through the city and Mid-South.

As he tells it, playing the game he loves, by all accounts, is his way of recalling and carrying out their legacies.

“I train all week with my coaches and my dad,” said Chris Witherspoon, who’s currently attending camps with several of his Whitehaven teammates. “I know the game and would like to know even more. I will spend the summer getting faster and stronger and smarter.”

As he readies for what figures to be a breakthrough junior season with a Tiger team that boast state championship aspirations, Chris is hopeful that scouts and recruiters will began placing him under their radar.

LOOKING AHEAD --- Years removed from such a life-altering experience, Chris doesn’t shy away from the notion that he’s using football as an outset, of sorts, with regards to coping with life without his beloved sisters. As he tells it, playing the game he loves, by all accounts, is his way of recalling and carrying out their legacies.

LOOKING AHEADYears removed from such a life-altering experience, Chris doesn’t shy away from the notion that he’s using football as an outset, of sorts, with regards to coping with life without his beloved sisters.
As he tells it, playing the game he loves, by all accounts, is his way of recalling and carrying out their legacies.

My long-term goal is to get a full ride (scholarship) to a major college to help my parents with tuition,” Chris Witherspoon said. “Coach Saulsberry has been an inspiration to me. Even though I’m a Whitehaven kid and my parents chose for me to go somewhere else in the ninth grade, he still welcomed me with open arms and me and my family love him for that.”

Especially his adorable little sisters, his biggest cheerleaders who undoubtedly will be cheering him on from heaven as he plays the game he loves in their memories.

This upcoming season and beyond.



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nEDITOR’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.

 

 

 

Memphis BTW hoops standout Ethan Jones figures to have breakthrough senior season

aaassIt is a foregone conclusion that Leslie Jones wants what’s best for her son, Memphis Booker T. Washington basketball standout Ethan Andrew Jones.

Every so often, in fact, she makes it a point to remind him of such.

In all likelihood, she doesn’t plan to let up anytime soon.

“I need him to get an education because I never got that far,” Leslie Jones told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Monday. “And I would be proud to watch him graduate from college.”

As Ethan Jones continues what has been a brutally hectic, but productive summer — particularly on the AAU hoops circuit — his mother yet again is reminding him that she’s undoubtedly his grandest cheerleader.

Fortunately for the 18-year-old rising senior, his mother’s unyielding support couldn’t have come at a better time.

MOM KNOWS BEST --- As Memphis Booker T. Washington basketball standout Ethan Jones continues what has been a brutally hectic, but productive summer --- particularly on the AAU hoops circuit --- his mother, Leslie Jones, yet again is reminding him that she’s undoubtedly his grandest cheerleader.

MOM KNOWS BESTAs Memphis Booker T. Washington basketball standout Ethan Jones continues what has been a brutally hectic, but productive summer — particularly on the AAU hoops circuit — his mother, Leslie Jones, yet again is reminding him that she’s undoubtedly his grandest cheerleader.

For starters, Ethan Jones has yet to generate any official college offers, although while in Orlando, Florida this week for the AAU Nationals, that could all change.

Add to the fact that the 6-foot-6 swingman enjoyed a remarkable junior season in which he helped propel perennial power BTW to the TSSAA Class A state championship game, and it’s no wonder the possibility exists that Ethan Jones could very well garner interests from college scouts and recruiters in the foreseeable future.

“I believe I played the perfect games (all season long) for a big man all around,” said Ethan Jones, assessing his play this past season.

Still, arguably the biggest mystery is whether college scout will at some take notice his overall body of work on the court, most notably his ability to run the floor for a big man, as well as his keen ability to rebound on  both ends of the floor and continue to have an effective presence in the post.

By and large, these are just the key mechanics about which Ethan Jones is determined to upgrade this offseason.

UNDER THE RADAR --- Ethan Jones has yet to generate any official college offers, although while in Orlando, Florida this week for the AAU Nationals, that could all change. Add to the fact that the 6-foot-6 swingman enjoyed a remarkable junior season in which he helped propel perennial power BTW to the TSSAA Class A state championship game, and it’s no wonder the possibility exists that Ethan Jones could very well garner interests from college scouts and recruiters in the foreseeable future.

UNDER THE RADAREthan Jones has yet to generate any official college offers, although while in Orlando, Florida this week for the AAU Nationals, that could all change.
Add to the fact that the 6-foot-6 swingman enjoyed a remarkable junior season in which he helped propel perennial power BTW to the TSSAA Class A state championship game, and it’s no wonder the possibility exists that Ethan Jones could very well garner interests from college scouts and recruiters in the foreseeable future.

After all, he’s months away from the start of his senior prep season, meaning there is no time to let up.

“I am not a regular big man because I can shoot and push the ball down the court,” said Ethan Jones, sounding like the assertive, poised student athlete for which he is widely known. “I work out every day.”

To his credit, it is because of his efficient workouts and conditioning sessions, coupled with his lofty expectations of progressing that he figures to make a solid case that he possess the skills to plat at the collegiate level.

PAW PAW --- Ethan Jones is the grandson of Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones

PAW PAWEthan Jones is the grandson of Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones.

Ethan Jones, who helped BTW to a 25-6 finish this past season, is the grandson of Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones.

“(He’s been playing basketball) since he was about nine years old,” Leslie Jones said. “He played for a summer league. But I wasn’t really surprised because of how tall he was and how he loved to play with his cousins. When I watched him play in the State Championship (last season), it was pure pandemonium. I tend to yell a lot…as much as I love watching them be victorious in close games but, at the same time, it is utterly nerve wrecking.”

As he readies for what figures to be a breakthrough senior campaign for the Antonio Harris-coached Warriors team that is expected to vie for a state crown, Leslie Jones says she’s confident her son will acquire the necessary exposure to lure the attention of college colleges.

“He has always been overlooked and some may have doubted his commitment to the game,” Leslie Jones said. “He is a kid that takes directions well and also takes constructive criticism when he knows it will benefit him in the long run.”

NOT LETTING UP --- To his credit, it is because of his efficient workouts and conditioning sessions, coupled with his lofty expectations of progressing that he figures to make a solid case that he possess the skills to plat at the collegiate level. “(He’s been playing basketball) since he was about nine years old,” Leslie Jones said.

NOT LETTING UPTo his credit, it is because of his efficient workouts and conditioning sessions, coupled with his lofty expectations of progressing that he figures to make a solid case that he possess the skills to plat at the collegiate level.
“(He’s been playing basketball) since he was about nine years old,” Leslie Jones said.

Not to mention, catapult him to his long-awaited dream of dressing out in a college uniform.

“Because basketball is what I like to do,” said Ethan Jones, when asked why is playing college basketball a dream of his. “And I want to play college basketball so I can pursue my dream to make it to the NBA.”

As far as his mother is concerned, amongst the observations about which he instills in her son is to keep his focus on education first and playing professionally a distant second.

“I tell his (team) mates that you can use basketball to advance you to the next level and not necessarily the NBA,” Leslie Jones said. “You have to think long term.”

Every so often, in fact, she makes it a point to remind her beloved son of such.



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nEDITOR’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.

 

Mavs rookie center A. J. Hammons welcomes the monumental challenges that await him

NBA SOUTHWEST DIVISION REPORT 

DALLAS — Upon meeting A. J. Hammons for the very first time, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wasted little time cracking jokes about the NBA rookie’s college alma mater.

FRESH START --- Selected with the 46th pick by Dallas in last month’s draft out of Purdue, A. J. Hammons witnessed his stock plummet considerably, in large part because of the constant concerns about his motor, maturity and age, all of which essentially pushed him farther down draft boards. Nearly three weeks removed from a somewhat tedious night in which Hammons said, "I was a little scared, like, dang, nobody might call my name," the 23-year-old Gary, Indiana native hinted on Thursday that his pre-draft stock reduction is right where it belongs --- behind him.

FRESH STARTSelected with the 46th pick by Dallas in last month’s draft out of Purdue, A. J. Hammons witnessed his stock plummet considerably, in large part because of the constant concerns about his motor, maturity and age, all of which essentially pushed him farther down draft boards. Nearly three weeks removed from a somewhat tedious night in which Hammons said, “I was a little scared, like, dang, nobody might call my name,” the 23-year-old Gary, Indiana native hinted on Thursday that his pre-draft stock reduction is right where it belongs — behind him.

“He said, ‘You’re lucky to be here, being a Boilermaker,’ Hammons, a former Purdue University star, said in recalling his initial conversation with Cuban, who’s an Indiana University graduate. “But he said he’s glad I’m here and that I should be ready to get to work.”

For Hammons, finding his way onto the NBA landscape certainly wasn’t an easy transition.

If nothing else, Hammons appearing on professional basketball’s grandest stage came with much discussion and foresight, all of which was accompanied by a slew of rave reviews from Brian Cardinal, a former Purdue forward who retired from the NBA after the 2011-12 season with the Mavericks.

Talk about getting a much-needed job hookup, one that ultimately resulted in Hammons having signed a guaranteed, three-year contract earlier this week with the Mavs.

“Oh yeah, A. J. can play,” Cuban told reporters following the Mavs’ Summer League team’s practice session on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, he played at my (college) rival, Purdue. But we’re fortunate we had a connection with Brian Cardinal, who had nothing but good things to say about him.”

Now that Hammon’s NBA feat has been decided for at least the next three seasons, the biggest mystery now is whether the 7-foot-2, 250-pound center can prove he’s as good as advertised or, in his case, silence the array of critics who weren’t all that sold on him following his stellar collegiate career.

Selected with the 46th pick by Dallas in last month’s draft, Hammons witnessed his stock plummet considerably, in large part because of the constant concerns about his motor, maturity, and age, all of which essentially pushed him farther down draft boards.

A little more than two weeks removed from a somewhat tedious draft night in which Hammons said, “I was a little scared, like, dang, nobody might call my name,” the 23-year-old Gary, Indiana native hinted on Thursday that his pre-draft stock reduction is right where it belongs — behind him.

As for the existing concerns about whether Hammons will adjust comfortably and have an immediate impact, the former Oak Hill Academy star said he undoubtedly welcomes the monumental challenges that await him. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

As for the existing concerns about whether Hammons will adjust comfortably and have an immediate impact, the former Oak Hill Academy star said he undoubtedly welcomes the monumental challenges that await him. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Asked if he sensed he was overlooked weeks leading to the draft, Hammons said, “Not really. Everything happens for a reason. So you’ve just got to go out there and play with a chip on your shoulder.”

As for the existing concerns about whether Hammons will adjust comfortably and have an immediate impact, the former Oak Hill Academy star said he undoubtedly welcomes the monumental challenges that await him.

The Mavs’ Summer League team held its final practice Friday morning before boarding a plane for Las Vegas.

The team’s opener is Saturday at Cox Pavilion versus Miami at 9 p.m. EST.

“Yeah, I’m tired of (the ongoing criticism),” Hammons said. “But it’s just something you’ve got to work through and just show you’re getting better. I wouldn’t say I was overlooked. I had a couple of questions to come. But like I said, everything happens for a reason.”

Especially a connection with his new boss, who happens to be graduate of Purdue’s intrastate rival.

“He’s got a rep for being a little lackadaisical,” Cuban said of Hammons. “But as Brian said, he’s so competitive when guys start beating on him and then all of that goes away. His skill is undeniable. He can score. He can rebound. He can block shots. I mean, he’s going to have a long NBA career.”

So much for all the Boilermaker jokes.

 

DALLAS MAVERICKS SUMMER LEAGUE ROSTER 

 

  • Justin Anderson (G/F, Virginia)
  • Chane Behanan (F, Louisville)
  • Vander Blue (G, Marquette)
  • Kyle Collinsworth (G, BYU)
  • Perry Ellis (F, Kansas)
  • Dorian Finney-Smith (F, Florida)
  • Jonathan Gibson (G, New Mexico State)
  • A.J. Hammons (C, Purdue)
  • Isaiah Miles (F, St. Joseph’s)
  • McKenzie Moore (G, UTEP)
  • Giovan Oniangue (F, Paris-Levallois Basket/Republic of Congo)
  • Satnam Singh (C, IMG Academy FL/India)
  • Jameel Warney (F, Stony Brook)

 



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nAndre 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.

Former Vol Tony Harris on Pat Summitt’s death: ‘People in Knoxville loved this lady’

ROCKY TOP REMEMBERS PAT --- Having coached the University of Tennessee women's basketball program for 38 years from 1974-2012, Summitt is widely known in the sports world for having brought respectability and relevancy to women’s college basketball. Summitt died Tuesday morning, five years after being diagnosed with early onset dementia in the form of Alzheimer’s. She was 64. (Photo by Wade Payne/AP)

ROCKY TOP REMEMBERS PATHaving coached the University of Tennessee women’s basketball program for 38 years from 1974-2012, Pat Summitt is widely known in the sports world for having brought respectability and relevancy to women’s college basketball. Summitt died Tuesday morning, five years after being diagnosed with early onset dementia in the form of Alzheimer’s. She was 64. (Photo by Wade Payne/AP)

Former University of Tennessee point guard Tony Harris on Tuesday offered a rather riveting suggestion hours after news spread of Pat Summit’s death.

“That’s Pat Summitt University,” Harris, a former Memphis East High star told MemphiSport during a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “I mean, look at her success, her wins…she was the winningest coach in college basketball history.”

Summitt, the legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach who enjoyed an illustrious career that was highlighted by an unprecedented 1,098 wins, eight national championships, and 16 Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles, died early Tuesday, five years after being diagnosed with early onset dementia in the form of Alzheimer’s.

She was 64.

A public memorial service for Summitt has been scheduled for 7 p.m. EST on July 14 at Thompson-Boling Arena on the Tennessee campus.

Having coached the Lady Volunteers for 38 years from 1974-2012, Summitt is widely known in the sports world for having brought respectability and relevancy to women’s college basketball.

TEN-NES-SEE THE SUCCESS --- Besides compiling a .841 winning percentage (1,098-208) during her stint with the Lady Vols, Summitt was named SEC Coach of The Year an unprecedented eight times and National Coach of The Year seven times, including in back-to-back seasons in 1994 and 1995. (AP Photo)

TEN-NES-SEE THE SUCCESSBesides compiling a .841 winning percentage (1,098-208) during her stint with the Lady Vols, Summitt was named SEC Coach of The Year an unprecedented eight times and National Coach of The Year seven times, including in back-to-back seasons in 1994 and 1995. (AP Photo)

Her best display as a Hall of Fame coach undoubtedly occurred in the mid-1990s when Summitt guided the Lady Vols to three consecutive NCAA titles from 1996-1998, that last of which came during Harris’ freshman season in Knoxville.

“It was a great experience,” Harris said of having crossed paths with Summitt. “I knew at the time she was going to be a Hall of Fame coach. So I was blessed to share the same campus with a legend. I had a close relationship with her as far as being a student athlete. The men’s basketball office was right next door to the women’s. And there were times I went in there. She was big on professionalism in everything I did.”

In August 2011, Summitt announced that she had been diagnosed three months earlier with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Still, she chose to coach Tennessee during the 2011–2012 season, but at a reduced role while longtime assistant Holly Warlick — an assistant under Summitt since 1985 — had assumed most of the responsibilities.

Besides compiling an all-time best winning percentage of. 841 (1,098-208) during her stint with the Lady Vols, Summitt was named SEC Coach of The Year an unprecedented eight times and National Coach of The Year seven times, including in back-to-back seasons in 1994 and 1995.

A former Parade All-American who named TSSAA Class AAA Mr. Basketball in 1997, Memphian Tony Harris starred at point guard for East from 1994-97 before ultimately signing a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Tennessee. To his credit, the Vols re-emerged as a national standout, having appeared in the NCAA Tournament in each of Harris’ four seasons, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2000. (Getty Images Photo)

A former Parade All-American who named TSSAA Class AAA Mr. Basketball in 1997, Memphian Tony Harris starred at point guard for East from 1994-97 before ultimately signing a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Tennessee. To his credit, the Vols re-emerged as a national standout, having appeared in the NCAA Tournament in each of Harris’ four seasons, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2000. (Getty Images Photo)

“People say she was stern,” Harris said. “But that sternness got her a lot of wins and won her a lot of championships. She had some of the top players in the country wanting to play for her.”

Although for years, the Tennessee football and women’s basketball enjoyed paralleled success, Harris said it was in large part because of Summitt’s well-publicized resume that the men’s basketball program had finally began to earn mentions on a national platform.

A former Parade All-American who was named TSSAA Class AAA Mr. Basketball in 1997, Harris starred at point guard for East from 1994-97 before ultimately signing a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Tennessee.

To his credit, the Vols re-emerged as a national standout, having appeared in the NCAA Tournament in each of Harris’ four seasons, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2000.

“I can’t put a number on it,” Harris, founder of the Tony Harris Basketball Academy in Los Angeles said, when asked how many Lady Vols games he attended during his time in Knoxville. “But every time they played, I tried to make when we didn’t have a game.”

BEST LADY VOL EVER? Chamique Holdsclaw starred for Summitt's Lady Vols from 1995-1999, having guided the Tennessee to three consecutive NCAA Championships from 1996-1998. The 1998 national title capped Tennessee's first ever undefeated season at 39–0 and also set an NCAA record for the most wins ever in a season. (AP Photo)

BEST LADY VOL EVER? Two-time Naismith Award winner Chamique Holdsclaw starred for Summitt’s Lady Vols from 1995-1999, having guided the Tennessee to three consecutive NCAA Championships from 1996-1998. The 1998 national title capped Tennessee’s first ever undefeated season at 39–0 and also set an NCAA record for the most wins ever in a season. (AP Photo)

Even as the catalyst of the men’s team, Harris said attending Lady Vols’ games was an experience in its own right, largely because tickets were hard to come by.

“It was one the great experiences I’ve been a part of as a student athlete,” Harris said. “I never really watched women’s basketball until I got to UT and saw the impact (Summitt) had on the program.”

Not just in Rocky Top, but the entire Volunteer state, Harris quickly acknowledged.

“(The city of) Knoxville loved this lady,” Harris said. “Not just in Knoxville, but the whole state of Tennessee. When you talk about (the University of) Tennessee, you’ve got to talk about women’s basketball.”

Or, as Harris charismatically suggested, “Pat Summitt University.”



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nAndre 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.

Shaw (Miss.) High basketball star Anthony Davis, Jr. following in footsteps of his father

DALLAS — Anthony Davis, Jr. is a bad man.

Bad as in good, mind you.

bbbbbNot only is Davis a rising senior and the catalyst for a Shaw (Mississippi) High School basketball team that’s coached by his father, Anthony Davis, Sr., but given his well-publicized track record on the amateur hoops circuit in recent years, it’s safe to assume this athletically-gifted prodigy figures to be suiting up in a major college basketball uniform in a little less than two years.

For starters, Anthony Davis — widely known as “Little Tony” amongst family and friends — has become a fixture at Cleveland Cavaliers veteran swingman Mo Williams Academy that’s based in Dallas-Fort Worth area, where he is taught everything from aim to balance athletics and personal development, development as it pertains to the ability to set realistic but challenging individual goals, development as it relates to self-discipline and a commitment to personal success, not to mention a development with regards to respect and appreciation for others and the game as well as his ability to exhibit good sportsmanship.

JUST SHOWING OFF --- In leading Shaw to a 20-9 record this past season, Shaw High basketball star Anthony Davis, Jr. was as good as advertised, having averaged a team-best 14.1 points while appearing in 28 of the Hawks’ 29 games (according to Maxpreps.com). Add to the fact that this 5-foot-9 swingman helped propel his father’s team on an impressive postseason run, coupled with the efficient work he’s put in this offseason, and it’s no wonder that in all likelihood, scouts will surely come calling sooner than he thinks.

JUST SHOWING OFFIn leading Shaw to a 20-9 record this past season, Shaw High basketball star Anthony Davis, Jr. was as good as advertised, having averaged a team-best 12.7 points while appearing in 28 of the Hawks’ 29 games (according to Maxpreps.com).
Add to the fact that this 5-foot-9 swingman helped propel his father’s team on an impressive postseason run, coupled with the efficient work he’s put in this offseason, and it’s no wonder that in all likelihood, scouts will surely come calling sooner than he thinks.

“I’m an outstanding person, always willing to put in overtime work in my craft,” Anthony Davis, Jr. told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Tuesday. “I’m a hard worker and a great leader on the team.”

Fortunately for the 17-year-old guard, his overall body of work on the hardwood in the Magnolia State hasn’t gone unnoticed, not by a long shot.

That’s because Little Tony is currently amongst 150 prep players who are showcasing their skills and mechanics in the Second Annual ScoutsFocus All-American Camp in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A three-day that ran from June 13-15, Little Tony was amongst 5-10 players invited from each showcase location.

Among ScoutsFocus’ notable alums is former University of Kansas and current Minnesota Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins.

Generally, because Little Tony has enjoyed a wealth of success with a full season left of major high school ball, many recruiting analysts believe he will only add to his already favorable stock.

In leading Shaw to a 20-9 record this past season, Little Tony was as good as advertised, having averaged a team-best 12.7 points while appearing in 28 of the Hawks’ 29 games (according to Maxpreps.com).

ddddAdd to the fact that this 5-foot-9 swingman helped propel his father’s team on an impressive postseason run, coupled with the efficient work he’s put in this offseason, and it’s no wonder that in all likelihood, scouts will surely come calling sooner than he thinks.

That, after all, will surface as a good problem, of sorts, for a kid who’s clinging to massive dreams of playing on college basketball’s grandest stage.

“I’ve been training every day at MWA (in Dallas) and conditioning every morning,” Little Tony said. “Whatever college gets me will be inheriting a great listener, team leader and hard worker. It’s a dream that I need to accomplish to get to the next level of play that I will push forward to play on, which is the NBA.”

As his old man tells it, anything’s possible for his giftedly-talented son, who has been nothing short impressive during his tenure at Shaw as well as the AAU circuit.

FAMILY FOCUS --- “I think the sky is the limit for him because of his work ethic,” Anthony Davis, Sr. said. “He wants to be better than his dad. I think that's what drives him. I always push him to better than me.”

FAMILY FOCUS“I think the sky is the limit for him because of his work ethic,” Anthony Davis, Sr. said. “He wants to be better than his dad. I think that’s what drives him. I always push him to better than me.”

“We’ll, I don’t watch him from the bleachers,” Anthony Davis, Sr., a McDonald’s All-American nominee in 1994 and an All SWAC player at the Mississippi Valley State University, said in critiquing his son’s overall progress. “I watch him from the sideline because I’m his coach. He has grown to be a really good basketball and baseball player.”

All of which practically sums up why this hoops prodigy will undoubtedly be heard loud and clear amongst scouts and recruiters in the foreseeable future.

So stay tuned.

In case you haven’t heard, Little Tony is about to do some big things.

“I think the sky is the limit for him because of his work ethic,” Anthony Davis, Sr. said. “He wants to be better than his dad. I think that’s what drives him. I always push him to better than me.”

Again…

Stay tuned.

In case you haven’t heard, Little Tony is about to do some big things.

How many times we’ve got to say it?



MrJohnsonEDITOR’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.