OAK CLIFF, Texas — Shavarick James was rather forthright when asked recently how he will spend his summer.
“This summer, I plan to work even harder than my previous summers combined,” James told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I plan on making my weaknesses my strengths and my strengths even more strong.”
To get a clear understanding of why James — a 17-year-old Dallas-area basketball standout who recently graduated from nearby Triple A Academy — pledges to upgrade his mechanics on the court, look no further than the sequence of events that transpired in the recent years.
For starters, the Fort-Worth, Texas native, whose hoops prowess soared to immense heights years ago while on the AAU circuit for the Dallas-area Southwest Elite team, his skills went virtually unnoticed by college scouts, in large part because he was a member of an up-and-coming charter school program.
WATCH SHAVA JAMES IN ACTION VIA YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKR0iHvU-RA&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Although he witnessed a significant decrease in minutes, the 6-foot-3 swingman admittedly clung to lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate level alongside fellow Triple A teammate Frank Hollis.
Said Craig Roberts, James’ AAU coach on his progress in recent years: “Shava is an athletic 6-foot-4 wing who has a knockdown jumper and isn’t afraid to drive the lane. He defends very well on the perimeter. Although he needs to get stronger, his best basketball is ahead of him.”
As James tells it, he and Hollis — a combo guard one of the Stallions’ best defenders — often spoke about the idea of playing college ball at the same institution. They will have their chance in the coming months, considering James and Hollis have planned to enroll at Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas.
While the possibility exists that both players could earn scholarships at MWSU, one thing has already been determined: Hollis and James have agreed that is all else fails, they are destined to lobby for roster spots as walk-ons.
“(The MWSU coaching staff) would be getting someone who doesn’t know what slacking looks like,” said James when asked what he could offer a college program. “I would be a suitable fit because I am 100 percent for the team. I learned that when you are for your team, not only does that allow you to become a better player, but a better man. And, in the end, that’s the ultimate goal.”
James spent his first year at nearby Hampton Prep, where he was a force on the junior varsity squad before ultimately earning significant minutes on the varsity team. To his credit, he demonstrated time and again to be among the team’s most efficient reserves, having averaged around 10 points per game.
Unfortunately for James, his saw a substantial reduction in action, particularly after he transferred to Triple. Still, his contributions off the bench helped propel the Stallions to their first ever state championship last year.
Last year, James played sparingly and average around eight points per outing for a Triple A that finished with a 21-8 mark.
Among his key strengths as a speedy swingman is his ability to rebound, penetrate to the basket, and create his own shot, attributes he hopes will draw rave reviews from Midwestern State coaching staff this fall.
In a nutshell, James doesn’t shy away from the notion that among his key objectives is to compete for a roster spot once he sets foot on campus this fall.
“Over the years, Shavarick has shown a genuine true love and compassion for the sport,” said Ericka Hudson, Shavarick’s mother. “He has certainly gained knowledge over the past years and is able to apply that knowledge to the sport and the game. He is definitely worthy of a chance to prove himself. He has the dedication and drive it takes to make it. I believe he is committed to himself and the sport. He is determined to prove himself to anyone that gives him the opportunity.”
Among the reasons James said he has steadfastly remained focused on playing basketball at the collegiate ranks is that his mother has supported him continously ever since he first began playing competitively at the age of three.
“My mother is a big part of my support system,” James said. “She has come to a majority of y games. She even came to (Las) Vegas last summer to watch me play.”
A trend James hopes will continue once he enters college in the coming months.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.