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.

Covington’s scholar athlete Alexis Johnson making the grades, aiming to impress scouts

AJIn case you don’t know her, allow Alexis Samantha Johnson to introduce herself.

For starters, Johnson a senior multi-sport athlete at Covington High School, an institution that is approximately 30 minutes from Memphis.

She is an honor student who is well on her way to graduating in the top 10 percent of her graduating class in the spring.

Aside from having a monumental impact in the classroom, she has become a fixture for the Lady Chargers’ cross country team.

She has routinely provided favorable contributions for Covington’s track and field squad.

GO GETTER --- As far as athletics go, Alexis Johnson works out virtually “daily” to fine-tune her mechanics, most notably her basketball fundamentals. According to the 5-foot-9 combo guard, now is not the time to become complacent, considering she’s doing everything she deems necessary to make a favorable impression upon college scouts and recruiters.

GO GETTERAs far as athletics go, Alexis Johnson works out virtually “daily” to fine-tune her mechanics, most notably her basketball fundamentals. According to the 5-foot-9 combo guard, now is not the time to become complacent, considering she’s doing everything she deems necessary to make a favorable impression upon college scouts and recruiters.

As if that’s not enough of a thorough introduction, she is the catalyst of a streaking Lady Charger basketball team that could very well find itself vying for a state championship sometime next month.

“She’s the type of kid who doesn’t want to sit around and not do anything,” said Nacquia Smith Johnson, Alexis Johnson’s mother, during a telephone interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Sunday. “She’s a true competitor.”

Let alone one who, as she tells it, doesn’t shy away from the notion of what she aspires to do when she sets foot on a college campus this fall.

Surely, Alexis Johnson — who’s ranked No. 6 overall in her graduating class and boasts a 3.96 grade point average — is optimistic mightily in that she will continue to fortify academic excellence at the collegiate level.

As for engaging college athletics, she’d be the first to tell you that embarking upon such a commendable feat will only add to what figures to a memorable college experience.

In a nutshell, this vibrant, assertive student athlete who boasts an array of resiliency appears destined to go full throttle even at the college level just as she has done for a majority of her prep career.

“Playing sports in college is a dream for me, because I have been doing it my whole life,” Alexis Johnson said. “I wouldn’t want all of my hard work and dedication to (sports) to be for nothing. I want to prove to everyone who has ever doubted me and said I can’t do it. Nothing is impossible for me to accomplish.”

TRUE GENIUS --- Johnson is an honor student who is well on her way to graduating in the top 10 percent of her graduating class in the spring.

TRUE GENIUSJohnson is an honor student who is well on her way to graduating in the top 10 percent of her graduating class in the spring.

Covington basketball coach Katrisha Glass echoed Alexis Johnson’s dauntless declaration on Monday prior to her team’s afternoon practice.

“Alexis Johnson is a young lady whose character is what one would like to see in every child that they come across,” Glass said. “I have coached Alexis for the last four years in basketball, and her hard work, dedication, and perseverance is what has left a lasting impression on me.”

All things considered, her resiliency and willingness to persevere are what college scouts and recruiters ought to take in account as it pertains to expressing interest in Alexis Johnson, Glass acknowledged.

Alexis Johnson trains regularly with Team Penny AAU hoops guru Jevonte Holmes as well and with Mid-South area trainer Frank Harris.

“Alexis’ zeal to want to be the best makes her stand out from the rest of her peers,” said Glass, whose team (17-4) is first in the Region 15-AA standings heading into Tuesday night’s game at Liberty Tech in Jackson. “She is not only a great athlete, but she is also an excellent student. She is very deserving of any (scholarship) that is offered to her. Whatever Alexis sets her mind to, she will achieve it. Her humbleness and willingness to help out her teammates are qualities that will help her excel not only in sports, but also in life.”

MOM KNOWS BEST --- “She’s the type of kid who doesn’t want to sit around and not do anything,” said Nacquia Smith Johnson, Alexis Johnson’s mother, during a telephone interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Sunday. “She’s a true competitor.”

MOM KNOWS BEST“She’s the type of kid who doesn’t want to sit around and not do anything,” said Nacquia Smith Johnson, Alexis Johnson’s mother, during a telephone interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Sunday. “She’s a true competitor.”

As far as athletics go, Alexis Johnson works out virtually “daily” to fine-tune her mechanics, most notably her basketball fundamentals. According to the 5-foot-9 combo guard, now is not the time to become complacent, considering she’s doing everything she deems necessary to make a favorable impression upon college scouts and recruiters.

“A college that chooses me will inherit an athlete that will not give up and will do whatever it takes to get to the top,” Alexis Johnson said.

Not bad for a solid introduction.

 

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.

Harding Academy’s Antonio Chew, Jr. rated among top recruits by Maxpreps for Class of 2017

Antonio Chew, Sr. is a rising Mid-South-area entrepreneur as owner of the 901 South Tire Shop/Grillmaster Chew’s BBQ And Catering.

Chew1Aside from attracting a slew of Mid-Southerners to try his assortment of delectable barbecue meals, Chew, Sr. has become quite instrumental with regards to ensuring that his son, Harding Academy athlete Antonio Chew, Jr., generates the essential exposure as it pertains to landing a college athletic scholarship.

“Coaches are always telling me that he’s one of the most underrated, but hardest hitting (defensive) linemen in the (Shelby-Metro) area,” Chew, Sr., told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview.

FATHERLY LOVE --- Antonio Chew, Sr. is a rising Mid-South-area entrepreneur as owner of the 901 South Tire Shop/Grillmaster Chew's BBQ And Catering.  Aside from attracting a slew of Mid-Southerners to try his assortment of delectable barbecue meals, Chew, Sr. has become quite instrumental with regards to ensuring that his son, Harding Academy athlete Antonio Chew, Jr., generates the essential exposure as it pertains to landing a college athletic scholarship.

FATHERLY LOVE — Antonio Chew, Sr. is a rising Mid-South-area entrepreneur as owner of the 901 South Tire Shop/Grillmaster Chew’s BBQ And Catering.
Aside from attracting a slew of Mid-Southerners to try his assortment of delectable barbecue meals, Chew, Sr. has become quite instrumental with regards to ensuring that his son, Harding Academy athlete Antonio Chew, Jr., generates the essential exposure as it pertains to landing a college athletic scholarship.

Though his 5-foot-11, 240-pound frame is considered “undersized,” according to several recruiting analysts, the general consensus regarding Chew is that this lineman is durable and versatile in that he possesses the resiliency to play on both sides of the ball, a key attribute he hopes college scouts and recruiters will take into account as the 17-year-old prepares for Spring practices.

“I work out five days out of the week, and sometimes six or seven,” Chew, Jr. said in assessing his routine offseason conditioning sessions.

In addition to his seemingly tireless offseason drills, Chew, Jr. doesn’t shy away from the notion that acquiring a football scholarship is indeed high on his list of objectives in the foreseeable future.

To his credit, he appears to be on track to ensuring that his long-awaited dream becomes a reality.

That’s because according to Chew, Sr., his son has garnered interest from Kentucky Christian University and Shorter University, a list that is expected to increase, considering Chew, Jr. has one more year of high school eligibility remaining.

“I had an interesting (2015) season…probably my second-best season,” said Chew, Jr., who helped steer Ryan Derrick’s Harding-coached team to a 10-3 finish that was highlighted by a stellar postseason display.

While the heroics of lineman rarely show up on the stats sheets, Chew, Jr. certainly held his own in emerging as the catalyst of Lions defense that recorded two shutouts this season.

Chew. Jr., Tennessee’s No. 61 overall prospect for the Class of 2017 by Maxpreps.com, performed masterfully on both sides of the ball for a Harding squad that will rely on him heavily next season to have a monumental impact.

Once again.

As Chew, Jr. tells, he’s certainly up for the challenge, especially after a season in which he’s managed to draw rave reviews from college scouts and recruiters.

“Whatever college offers me will be investing in a smart, talented, and hard-working young man,” Chew, Jr. said. “Playing football period was a dream of mine, and ever since I started playing, I wanted to go up to the next level.”

STOCK RISING --- According to Chew, Sr., his son has garnered interest from Kentucky Christian University and Shorter University, a list that expected to increase, considering Chew, Jr. has one more year of high school eligibility remaining.

STOCK RISING — According to Chew, Sr., his son has garnered interest from Kentucky Christian University and Shorter University, a list that expected to increase, considering Chew, Jr. has one more year of high school eligibility remaining.

His long-awaited dream, by and large, appears destined to come full circle — a development that would surely bring even more smiles — and business — to the family’s rising entrepreneur.

“Playing at the college level has been something I wanted to do since I was young.”

Stay tuned.

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.

 

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: University of Houston among AAC schools eyeing Cedar Hill’s Xavier Hall

CEDAR HILL, Texas — In case you don’t know him, allow Xavier Hall to introduce himself.

For starters, Hall is senior middle linebacker for a perennial power Cedar Hill team that is amongst the finest in Texas.

STAR WATCH --- As arguably one of the Cedar Hill's most efficient and durable pass rushers who has built a reputation for providing fits to the opposition, Xavier Hall has gone to great lengths to boost his recruiting stock, considering he is currently ranked as the 14th best high school linebackers in Texas, according to Maxpreps.com. (Photos submitted by J. Hall)

STAR WATCH — As arguably one of the Cedar Hill’s most efficient and durable pass rushers who has built a reputation for providing fits to the opposition, Xavier Hall has gone to great lengths to boost his recruiting stock, considering he is currently ranked as the 14th best high school linebackers in Texas, according to Maxpreps.com. (Photos submitted by J. Hall)

As arguably one of the Longhorns’ most efficient and durable pass rushers who has built a reputation for providing fits to the opposition, Hall has gone to great lengths to boost his recruiting stock, considering he is currently ranked as the 14th best high school linebacker in Texas, according to Maxpreps.com.

Add to the fact this resilient athlete — the nation’s 91st overall player for the Class of 2016 by Maxpreps — has improved immensely in the offseason, and it’s no wonder that Hall appears well on his way to signing a National Letter of Intent less than three months from now.

National Signing Day is February 3.

As Hall, 6-foot, 195-pounder tells it, given he has been afforded the golden opportunity to put his skills on display for a tradition-rich Cedar Hill program is amongst the greatest factors that has given way to his drawing rave reviews from a host of college scouts and recruiters.

“My family always says don’t be scared to go after what I want and I should know how to get it on my own,” Hall told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “Being a football player is exciting. It keeps me busy and there is never a dull moment, especially having my own decorated locker and being a part of an (animated) locker room.”

While establishing camaraderie with teammates has contributed mightily to his success on the field, whether his final prep season ends with a state championship or not, Hall doesn’t shy away from the notion that playing football on Saturdays around this time next year is undoubtedly his No. 1 priority. Hall3

After all, as far as he’s concerned, he senses he’s done the necessary things to sway colleges to extend to him a full ride scholarship.

“(Football) was the first sport I played and found a liking for it,” Hall said. “And also I felt it would be my gateway out of what people call the hood. My family has been very supportive of me and my choice of playing football. They always push me to my limit and tell me to strive for excellence.”

Fortunately for Hall, it’s safe to assume that a few colleges have discovered the true talent he has become since bursting on the high school scene four years ago.

That’s because according to Hall, the University of Houston, Southeastern Oklahoma State, Langston University, Lamar University, and Cisco Jr. College are amongst the schools that have expressed interest in him as his prep career draws near.

SUPER MOM --- Among Hall’s biggest supporter is his mother Jontil Hall, who has become a fixture at virtually each of her son’s games. In assessing her son’s career at Cedar Hill, Jontil Hall acknowledges she’s mostly impressed at how well-disciplined he’s been in what undoubtedly is a pivotal season for Xavier.

SUPER MOM — Among Hall’s biggest supporter is his mother Jontil Hall, who has become a fixture at virtually each of her son’s games. In assessing her son’s career at Cedar Hill, Jontil Hall acknowledges she’s mostly impressed at how well-disciplined he’s been in what undoubtedly is a pivotal season for Xavier.

Cedar Hill (9-1) plays Carroll (8-2) Friday night at 7:30 in the second round of the Texas Class 6A playoffs.

Among Hall’s biggest supporter is his mother Jontil Hall, who has become a fixture at virtually each of her son’s games. In assessing her son’s career at Cedar Hill, Jontil Hall acknowledges she’s mostly impressed at how well-disciplined he’s been in what undoubtedly is a pivotal season for Xavier.

“I wasn’t surprised to know he would play in high school because he played in middle school and also throughout pop warner (recreational league),” Jontil Hall said. “Words can’t express the happiness I feel for my son. Being a single mother hasn’t been easy, but very well worth it. I thank God that my son has kept a level head throughout all the struggles and cards he has been dealt.

Also, I’m proud to say that I’ve never had to go to school for any class skipping, disruptions, or fighting. My visit to school has only been for football. That’s a blessing.”

A blessing that, fortunately for Xavier Hall, appears likely to continue on Saturdays around this time next year.

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.

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: Horn Lake OL Nikolas Dean’s sights set on National Signing Day

WAR EAGLE --- Horn Lake High senior linebacker Nikolas Dean’s parents, Byron and Neketta Dean, said that while their son has endured his share of challenges during the course of his high school career, they are mostly impressed by how he has gone about assuming the businesslike approach for a player who’s auditioning for a full ride athletic scholarship. (Photos by N. Dean)

WAR EAGLE — Horn Lake High senior offensive lineman Nikolas Dean’s parents, Byron and Neketta Dean, said that while their son has endured his share of challenges during the course of his high school career, they are mostly impressed by how he has gone about assuming the businesslike approach for a player who’s auditioning for a full ride athletic scholarship. (Photos by N. Dean)

Although the 2015 season did not turn out the way Nikolas Dean had envisioned, the Horn Lake High offensive lineman nnow has his sights set on something that could very well set the tone for his young life for the next four years.

National Signing Day.

A 6-foot, 230-pound senior, Dean enjoyed a stellar career for the Eagles, although his final prep season ended with Horn Lake limping to a 2-10 finish.

Still, during a high school stint whereby Dean enjoyed success virtually on both sides of the ball for coach Brad Boyette’s squad, he’s confident he will fulfill his long-waited dream of putting his football skills on display at the collegiate level.

According to Dean, who is ranked as the 105th best player in tradition-rich Mississippi according to Maxpreps.com, he has generated interest from several schools, most notably Mississippi State, Jackson State, Grambling State, University of Memphis, and Ole Miss, among others.

National Signing Day is February 3.

When asked to assess his career his Horn Lake, Dean, a Carbondale, Illinois native, said he senses he had done enough to persuade college coaches to grant him the opportunity to play next Fall.

STELLAR AUDITION --- A 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior, Horn Lake's Nikolas Dean enjoyed a stellar career for the Eagles, although his final prep season ended with Horn Lake limping to a 2-10 finish.  Still, during a high school stint whereby Dean enjoyed success virtually on both side of the ball for coach Brad Boyette’s squad, he’s confident he will fulfill his long-waited dream of putting his football skills on display at the collegiate level. (Photos submitted by N. Dean)

STELLAR AUDITION — A 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior, Horn Lake’s Nikolas Dean enjoyed a stellar career for the Eagles, although his final prep season ended with Horn Lake limping to a 2-10 finish.
Still, during a high school stint whereby Dean enjoyed success virtually on both side of the ball for coach Brad Boyette’s squad, he’s confident he will fulfill his long-waited dream of putting his football skills on display at the collegiate level. (Photos submitted by N. Dean)

“I love football because it’s a sport that has always come naturally to me,” Dean told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I love the contact of the sport. I really know the sport and I have passion for it.”

Dean’s parents, Byron and Neketta Dean, said that while their son has endured his share of challenges during the course of his high school career, they are mostly impressed by how he has gone about assuming the businesslike approach for a player who’s auditioning for a full ride athletic scholarship.

Byron and Neketta’s son, Nakobe Dean, is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound freshman linebacker for Horn Lake.

“I’m happy because he’s happy,” Neketta said of Nikolas Dean. “It’s been challenging, but I’ve always told him to keep God first and that he can do all things through Christ and to remember that he’s a champion and not a contestant. He was born to succeed and he possesses the heart and passion (for football).”

RAVE REVIEWS --- According to Dean (nO. 71), who is ranked as the 105th best player in tradition-rich Mississippi according to Maxpreps.com, he has generated interest from several schools, most notably Mississippi State, Jackson State, Grambling State, University of Memphis, and Ole Miss, among others.

RAVE REVIEWS — According to Dean (nO. 71), who is ranked as the 105th best player in tradition-rich Mississippi according to Maxpreps.com, he has generated interest from several schools, most notably Mississippi State, Jackson State, Grambling State, University of Memphis, and Ole Miss, among others.

All of which is why the Deans believe the possibility exist that they will be watching their son play football on Saturdays around this time next season.

As Nikolas’ mother’s tells it, her son’s body of work as an efficient athletic speaks for itself.

“Nikolas began playing football at the age of five,” Neketta Dean explains. “I was excited about his enthusiasm, energy, and love for the game. Every weekend was and is monopolized with games, events, and activities surrounding football. It was tiresome, especially working full time up to 50 hours-plus a week at times and having to attend the games. Nevertheless, our presence was a highlight for him and encouraged him to play harder.”

Now with National Signing Day a little more than two months away, Nikolas Dean and his family are now waiting with great expectancy to see which school will ultimately extend to him an offer to suit up in a college football uniform next fall.

Let alone set the tone for his young life for the next four years.

“My parents have always encouraged and supported me to strive at being successful in everything I do,” Nikolas Dean said.

Something about which several college scouts have already taken into account.

 

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.

 

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle described Flip Saunders’ death as a ‘dark day’ in the NBA

REMEMBERING FLIP SAUNDERS (1955-2015)

DALLAS — Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle wasted little time paying homage to Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders following his team’s two-hour practice Monday morning.

“Flip was one of those guys who was a great and intense competitor, always did it the right way,” Carlisle said while addressing reporters. “And as competitive as he was and as great a coach he was, he had no enemies in this league.”

FABULOUS FLIP --- Flip Saunders, who returned to Minnesota for a second stint last summer and compiled more than 1,000 victories during a professional coaching career that spanned more than three decades, died Sunday of cancer at the age of 60. Saunders’ death comes just three days before the Timberwolves’ season-opener at the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Nam Y. Huh/AP)

FABULOUS FLIPFlip Saunders, who returned to Minnesota for a second stint last summer and compiled more than 1,000 victories during a professional coaching career that spanned more than three decades, died Sunday of cancer at the age of 60. Saunders’ death comes just three days before the Timberwolves’ season-opener at the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Saunders, who returned to Minnesota for a second stint last summer and compiled more than 1,000 victories during a professional coaching career that spanned more than three decades, died Sunday of cancer at the age of 60.

Saunders’ death comes just three days before the Timberwolves’ season-opener at the Los Angeles Lakers and two days after the team announced he would not return this season as he continued to battle his dreaded disease.

Saunders announced in August that he was being treated for Hodgkin lymphoma during which doctors described it as “very treatable and curable.” Saunders, in fact, said at the time he had planned to remain the Timberwolves’ head coach and president of basketball operations.

However, after enduring a setback last month that led to him being hospitalized, the team turned the coaching duties over to interim Sam Mitchell while Milt Newton assumed the general manager responsibilities.

In assessing Saunders’ coaching career that also included stints with the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, Carlisle ironically liken Saunders’ style of coaching to the late Chuck Daly, the former Pistons coach who led the franchise to back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990.

“He reminded me a lot of Chuck Daly,” Carlisle said. “He was innovative. He was creative. He was a great coach that coached a lot of different kinds of teams, and he was an impact guy as a GM as well.”

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Saunders was also part-owner of the Timberwolves, although he is widely known for his 35-year coaching tenure.

With the emergence of a young Kevin Garnett, Saunders guided Minnesota to its first-ever playoff berth in 1996-97, his first full season as an NBA head coach. The following year, he led the Timberwolves to their first-ever winning campaign, then helped propelled the team to a franchise-record 50 victories in 1999–2000, a feat they repeated two seasons later. (Getty Images Photos)

With the emergence of a young Kevin Garnett, Saunders guided Minnesota to its first-ever playoff berth in 1996-97, his first full season as an NBA head coach. The following year, he led the Timberwolves to their first-ever winning campaign, then helped propelled the team to a franchise-record 50 victories in 1999–2000, a feat they repeated two seasons later. (Getty Images Photos)

Saunders assumed his first NBA job when he joined the Timberwolves in May 1995 as general manager, working alongside former college teammate Kevin McHale. Seven months later, he was named the team’s head coach, replacing Bill Blair after Minnesota had gotten off to a dismal 6-14 start.

Two seasons later (1996-97), with the emergence of a young Kevin Garnett, Saunders guided Minnesota to its first-ever playoff berth in his first full season as an NBA head coach. The following year, he led the Timberwolves to their first-ever winning campaign, then helped steer the team to a franchise-record 50 victories in 1999–2000, a feat they repeated two seasons later.

LASTING IMPRESSION ---When asked how Saunders’ legacy will be remembered, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle paused briefly then said, “He’s one of the most respected coaches in history. Getty Images Photo)

LASTING IMPRESSIONWhen asked how Saunders’ legacy will be remembered, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle paused briefly then said, “He’s one of the most respected coaches in history. Getty Images Photo)

Consequently, Saunders was fired midway through the 2004-05 season during which the Timberwolves had failed to advance to the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

However, following coaching stints in Detroit (2005-2008) and Washington (2009-2012), Saunders rejoined the T-Wolves organization last summer before his health began to decline.

Saunders, whose professional coaching career began in 1988-89 with the CBA’s Rapid City Thrillers, led the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals during the 2003-04 season.

When asked how Saunders’ legacy will be remembered, Carlisle paused briefly then said, “He’s one of the most respected coaches in NBA history. There’s no doubt about that. He experienced great success. And he helped build that Minnesota franchise, really, from the depths of the lottery to a team that was in the Western Conference Finals.”

With the NBA regular season set to begin on Tuesday, Carlisle described Saunders’ passing as a “dark day” for the NBA.

“But we’ll all look back at all of the great things he did and all of the wonderful things he stood for and we’ll learn from his example,” Carlisle said.

The Mavs will wear lapel pins throughout the season in Saunders’ memory, Carlisle said.

Dallas’ season-opener is Wednesday night at 9 CST at Phoenix, the first of a three-game road trip.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Ex-U of M star Danton Barto gives worthy advice to pro football hopeful Braylon Burks

DALLAS — Braylon Burks doesn’t shy away from the notion that he is auditioning for a roster spot on professional football team.

PRO DREAMS --- Just recently, Dallas native Braylon Burks was introduced to Danton Barto, a former University of Memphis All-American linebacker and ex-Canadian Football League standout who currently works as a college scout for the St. Louis Rams.  According to 24-year-old Burks, he came away thoroughly appreciative and knowledgeable about what it takes to assume --- and retain --- a roster spot as a pro. (Photos courtesy of SAGU Athletics)

PRO DREAMS — Just recently, Dallas native Braylon Burks was introduced to Danton Barto, a former University of Memphis All-American linebacker and ex-Canadian Football League standout who currently works as a college scout for the St. Louis Rams.
According to 24-year-old Burks, he came away thoroughly appreciative and knowledgeable about what it takes to assume — and retain — a roster spot as a pro. (Photos courtesy of SAGU Athletics)

So much, in fact, that the former South Oak Cliff High standout has gone to great lengths in recent weeks to absorb as much pivotal advice he can as he prepares to fulfill a long awaited dream he’s had since his childhood days of playing recreational football in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Just recently, Burks was introduced to Danton Barto, a former University of Memphis All-American linebacker and ex-Canadian Football League standout who currently works as a college scout for the St. Louis Rams.

According to the 24-year-old Burks, the Dallas native came away thoroughly appreciative and knowledgeable about what it takes to assume — and retain — a roster spot as a pro.
After all, who better to learn from than someone who has spent years not just as a player in the professional ranks, but has functioned as the chief executive officer of a professional football franchise?

Barto is a former Arena Football League coach, a stint that included a brief tenure as an assistant and subsequent head coach of the now-defunct Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league. To his credit, Barto enjoyed a wealth of success in Memphis, having guided the Xplorers to a championship.

BIG CHANCE --- Fortunately for Burks, it’s safe to assume his golden opportunity to put his skills on display will take place as early as before year’s end.  Burks said he has been in discussion with team officials of the Arena Football League’s Green Bay Blizzard for a possible tryout. Also, he has generated interest from a few other AFL teams, most notably the Arizona Rattlers.

BIG BREAK — Fortunately for Burks, it’s safe to assume his golden opportunity to put his skills on display will take place as early as before year’s end.
Burks said he has been in discussion with team officials of the Arena Football League’s Green Bay Blizzard for a possible tryout. Also, he has generated interest from a few other AFL teams, most notably the Arizona Rattlers.

For someone who has familiarized himself with the pros and cons with regards to making a favorable impression on pro scouts and general managers, Barto lessoned Burks the best way he knew how during a phone conversation Burks said lasted approximately 15 minutes.

“(Barto) said there is nothing wrong with Arena Football,” Burks told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “He said I must learn as much as I can, stay focused, and don’t get caught up in other things.”

Other things such as what’s in the past are exactly where they belongs — in the past.

For instance, following a remarkable stint at South Oak Cliff in which he emerged as the catalyst for the Bears on both sides of the ball, the 6-foot-7 Burks consequently took his talents to Southwestern Assemblies of God University in nearby Waxahachie, Texas, where he played sparingly, in large part because of a number of coaching changes.

By and large, among those who admittedly were discouraged in Burks’ lack of playing time was his mother, Kimberly Session, who sensed her son — whom SAGU current head coach Frank Tristan in a telephone interview on Tuesday emphasized boasts “a wealth of size and is a true talent” — has possessed the mechanics all along to play major college football.

Professional football too.

DREAM CHASER --- Aside from working his daytime job and partaking in his customary community service as a way to enhance his resume, Burks trains intensely, sometimes as many as five times per weeks, sometimes as late as 10 o’clock nightly.

DREAM CHASER — Aside from working his daytime job and partaking in his customary community service as a way to enhance his resume, Burks trains intensely, sometimes as many as five times per weeks, sometimes as late as 10 o’clock nightly.

“He has been overlooked like so many other great players,” said Session, who has played an integral role in aiding her son to generate the essential exposure in hopes of playing at the professional level.

FOLLOW BRAYLON ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook: Braylon Burks
Instagram: BBURKS_BALLIN
Email: b.burks@yahoo.com

Aside from working his daytime job and partaking in his customary community service as a way to enhance his resume, Burks trains intensely, sometimes as many as five times per weeks, sometimes as late as 10 o’clock nightly.

As he tells it, there is simply no room for error, no time to let up, especially considering his support system has become solid than it has ever been in some time.

“I am very confident in myself as well as my abilities and I feel that God has divinely favored me with a gift of being a professional athlete as well as being a strong leader in the community,” Burks said. “I perform at my best when my back is against the wall. I also feel I can play at the professional level if granted an opportunity. It takes a lot of work, patience, hard work and faith.”

Fortunately for Burks, it’s safe to assume his golden opportunity to put his skills on display for a pro team will take place as early as before year’s end.

The former high school teammate of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jacquies Smith, Burks said he has been in discussion with team officials of the Arena Football League’s Green Bay Blizzard for a possible tryout. Also, he has generated interest from a few other AFL teams, most notably the Arizona Rattlers.

So far, things appear to be holding up nicely for this resilient, opportunistic youngster, who doesn’t shy away from the notion that he is auditioning for roster spot on professional football team.

“I feel like I can play at the next level,” Burks reiterated.

More than anything, he acknowledges, he plans to heed the advice given to him by Barto.

“He just said to me, ‘Keep your eyes on the prize and know what is important,’” Burks said. “He said some guys are comfortable where they are, so I must make sure I keep my eyes on the prize.”

Spoken like a big, soft-spoken athlete who’s yet clinging to Texas-size dreams.

 

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.

Rosa Fort linebacker Ronald Ladd, Jr. making noise in emerging as a 4-Star recruit

Ron1TUNICA, Mississippi — Ronald Ladd, Jr. is only a junior for Rosa Fort High’s football team.

In looking at his athletic resume, one could easily mistake him for a senior.

For starters, Ladd has made appearances at virtually every major football 7-on-7 camp throughout the Mid-South and Southeast regions since embarking upon the high school ranks.

Add to the fact that this speedy, 6-foot, 200-pound outside linebacker has been as good as advertised this season for a Rosa Fort team that carries a 6-0 record into Friday night’s Mississippi Region 2-4A game at Lafayette for first place supremacy, and it’s no wonder college scouts and recruiters have made it a point to keep a close watch on a player that has been upgraded to a 4-Star recruit by various recruiting analysts.

During a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson, Ladd’s father, Ronald Ladd, Sr. said that Memphis, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Alabama, Cincinnati, Florida State, Florida, Indiana, Navy, Mississippi State, Southeast Louisiana, UCLA, Auburn, and Kentucky are among the schools that have expressed interest in Ladd, Jr.

Given his remarkable display in this, his pivotal junior campaign, now we know why.

Through the Lions’ six outings, Ladd has garnered a team-leading six tackles, including 32 solo tackles.

FAMILIAR FACE --- Ladd has made appearances at virtually every major football 7-on-7 camp throughout the Mid-South and Southeast regions since embarking upon the high school ranks.

FAMILIAR FACE — Ladd has made appearances at virtually every major football 7-on-7 camp throughout the Mid-South and Southeast regions since embarking upon the high school ranks.

To his credit, he has been nothing less than impressive for potent Rosa Fort defense that has limited the opposition to an average of just seven points per game.

So how to explain Ladd, Jr’s continuous rise as arguably one of the Mid-South’s finest high school linebackers?

As his father tells it, his son has always envisioned becoming a force on the competitive football circuit since his recreational playing days roughly a decade ago.

STOCK RISING --- During a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson, Ladd’s father, Ronald Ladd, Sr. said that Memphis, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Alabama, Cincinnati, Florida State, Florida, Indiana, Navy, Mississippi State, Southeast Louisiana, UCLA, Auburn, and Kentucky are among the schools that have expressed interest in Ladd, Jr.

STOCK RISING — During a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson, Ladd’s father, Ronald Ladd, Sr. said that Memphis, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Alabama, Cincinnati, Florida State, Florida, Indiana, Navy, Mississippi State, Southeast Louisiana, UCLA, Auburn, and Kentucky are among the schools that have expressed interest in Ladd, Jr.

“(Ronald) Jr. started playing football when he was about five or six years old,” Ronald Ladd, Sr. explained. “He also played basketball, but he stuck with football. I was overwhelmed that he was as good as he is. I knew he had great athleticism, because I was great in sports. Going to games watching him play when he was playing peewee football, I would give him pointers on how to play. I never got tired of trying to get him to the next level. I always wanted him to be active and open-minded. I was excited to know that he could play as good as he has.”

Ronald Ladd, Jr., on the other hand, is swift to acknowledge that a majority of his success as one of the area’s top underclassmen has come to fruition, in large part because of the tireless support of his father and mother, Jill.

Because of them, he said, he had been afforded the golden opportunity to connect with that about which he’s passionate.

What’s even more impressive, particularly for a kid who appears headed — for a lack of better words — tackling a full-ride scholarship is that college scouts and recruiters are watching him intensely, a trend that is almost certain to continue into next season.

WE ARE FAMILY --- Ronald Ladd, Jr., on the other hand, is swift to acknowledge that a majority of his success as one of the area’s top underclassmen has come to fruition, in large part because of the tireless support of his father and mother, Jill.

WE ARE FAMILY — Ronald Ladd, Jr., on the other hand, is swift to acknowledge that a majority of his success as one of the area’s top underclassmen has come to fruition, in large part because of the tireless support of his father and mother, Jill.

“My family has been supportive a lot throughout my football life,” Ladd, Jr. said. “Coming to games, pushing me to work hard, telling me to stay focused and humble.”

Not to mention cling to relentless faith as he continues to add to an already solid resume for National Signing Day 2017.

“If you put God first, anything may happen,” Ladd, Jr. said.

Given his remarkable display in this, his pivotal junior campaign, now we know why.

 

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.

 

 

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: Is prep hoops standout Jordan Reed Chicago-area’s best kept secret?

STAR WATCH ---- Jordan Reed, who is rated as a four-start prospect by various recruiting analysts, is a rising senior point guard for Plainfield (Ill.) East High School. (Photos submitted by R. Reed)

STAR WATCH —- Jordan Reed, who is rated as a four-start prospect by various recruiting analysts, is a rising senior point guard for Plainfield (Ill.) East High School. (Photos submitted by R. Reed)

Robert Reed, the father of Chicago-area high school basketball standout Jordan Reed, describes himself as a self-proclaimed “basketball enthusiast.”

Surely, he has valid reasons for doing so.

Amongst the grandest reasons Robert Reed is one who possesses a rather high basketball IQ is that he has worked diligently throughout the years to help steer his son in the right direction — on and off the court.

Nowadays, it seems, the tireless contributions and support of Robert Reed and his wife, Mona, have benefited their son mightily, considering he has flourished immensely on Chicago’s tradition-rich basketball circuit in recent years.

Jordan Reed, who is rated as a four-start prospect by various recruiting analysts, is a rising senior point guard for Plainfield (Ill.) East High School.

BORN TO PLAY --- Robert and Mona Reed first handed their son a basketball when he was in the second grade and, according to the couple, the rest is history.

BORN TO PLAY — Robert and Mona Reed first handed their son a basketball when he was in the second grade and, according to the couple, the rest is history.

A speedy, slim 165-pounder who has the ability to create his own shot, thus emerge as a game-changer, or sorts, Jordan has quickly come under the radar by a slew of mid-major Division 1 schools in recent years as the featured player for Plainfield coach Braden Adkins’ squad.

“I always tell him to keep working hard and don’t let anything get in the way of his success,” Adkins told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “We’ve seen a maturation process since he’s been around the program a few years now. He knows what the coaches expect of our team. I just expect him to lead those younger guys.”

To get a thorough understanding of how much Jordan Reed has jelled considerably in the recent years, look further than how his parents has steadfastly gone about helping put his dazzling skills on display over the years.

WATCH JORDAN VIA YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkmEfLFkhf8&feature=em-share_video_user

For starters, Robert and Mona Reed first handed their son a basketball when he was in the second grade and, according to the couple, the rest is history.

“Jordan hasn’t looked back since,” Robert Reed said.

Jordan3If nothing else, it seems this vibrant, enthusiastic athlete has made a strong case in recent years that he’s destined to fulfill his lofty dream of playing major college basketball.

And whatever lies beyond that.

Take, for instance, how Jordan, has gone about evolving as a fixture on the AAU circuit in recent years, having played in a number of national tournaments — most notably one run by LeBron James — in several major cities while earning well over 100 medals as a result.

MORE JORDAN IN ACTION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKxNyXt_a3U&feature=em-share_video_user

Jordan also played AAU ball for Evan Turner’s Buckeyes in which he averages 21 points, five assists, and five steals per game. In addition, he made 89 percent of his free throws and shot an impressive 47 percent from beyond the arc — numbers that ultimately gave way to him being named a member of the “5-Star All Star Game” in 2014.

Add to the fact that Jordan Reed has trained several times a week with former University of Wisconsin All-American and current Charlotte Hornets rookie Frank Kimisky and local trainer Lamont White, and it’s no wonder this kid has become one of the Chicago area high school’s most sought-after recruits for the Class of 2016.

In assessing Jordan’s overall display in recent years, Robert Reed acknowledges that about which he’s intrigued the most is his son’s increase in confidence.

To his credit, he has a tear-jerking story as more valid proof to complement that high basketball IQ.

FOLLOW JORDAN VIA TWITTER: @ItsJReed; @pehsathletics; @PEHSOrangeCrush.

“The memorable story I’d like to share is last year he played in the Pekin Holiday tournament, when our big gun — who is presently playing for the Illinois Fighting Illini, Aaron Jordan — was looking to take the last shot,” Robert Reed explained. “As he drove (to the basket), the entire team collapsed on him and the ball floated over the rim. Jordan caught it and put it up at the buzzer, sending us to the championship and beating top recruit Nojel Eastern of Evanston Township. That did wonders for his confidence.”

Indeed it did.

Jordan Reed with Jabari Parker

Jordan Reed with Jabari Parker

Nowadays, it seems that Jordan, armed with a slew confidence that only he can contain, figures to enjoy what is expected to be a memorable final prep season for a Bengals team that finished 18-12 last season.

“I work hard in all that I do and as the oldest son of five,” Jordan Reed said. “I have a “can-do” attitude and now learning how to persevere. I have been through a lot during my short time here on earth. I’ve lived through a good friend passing away suddenly while he played the game of basketball he loved so well, to watching my mom be deployed twice to Iraq…keeping the faith that she’d come back in one piece and of sound mind.”

Fortunately for Jordan, even in the wake of his off-the-court challenges in recent years, the basketball court has always been his sanctuary, of sorts.

“I’ve been the back bone for our basketball organization and I am always positive and up-beat even in the midst of trials in my life,” Jordan Reed explains. “My friends tease me sometimes about that military brat aspect, but it’s made me who I am and has helped shaped my existence.

Jordan Reed with Penny Hardaway

Jordan Reed with Penny Hardaway

“What I love most about basketball is dunking on someone,” Jordan Reed said with a grin. “But I do love dunking the ball. What I really love is the freedom I have out there when I’m playing.”

A favorable trend college scouts and recruiters will almost certainly come to embrace around this time next year.

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.”

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 andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Rosa Fort RB Kevin Perkins progressing mightily, generating interest from colleges

There’s no other way to put it.

Sonia Robinson was downright worried.

Worried whether her son would become acclimated to what was at the time his new sport.

KP1Worried whether he would become a fixture while competing against the finest prep footballers in Mississippi.

Worried whether he would manage to perform free of any devastating injuries.

Worried whether he would handle the immense and sometimes brutal challenges that emerge through athletics.

Fortunately for Kevin Perkins, Jr., a senior standout at Rosa Fort High, he has adjusted superbly as a member of the fraternity that is major high school football.

A multiple-position athlete for the Lions, Perkins is the catalyst for a Rosa Fort team that has already atoned for last year’s disastrous 4-8 finish.

That’s because the Lions, who are idle this week, have won each of their five regular season outings, having done so in rather impressive fashion. What’s even more impressive for a Rosa Fort team that boasts postseason aspirations is that three of its wins have come on the road, including last week’s 7-3 gutsy triumph at Clarksdale.

MAKING MOM PROUD --- Fortunately for Sonia Robinson's son, Kevin Perkins, Jr., a senior standout at Rosa Fort High, he had adjusted comfortably as a member of the fraternity that is major high school football.  A multi-position athlete for the Lions, Perkins is the catalyst for a Rosa Fort team that has already atoned for last year’s disastrous 4-8 finish. (Photos submitted by S. Robinson)

MAKING MOM PROUD — Fortunately for Sonia Robinson’s son, Kevin Perkins, Jr., a senior standout at Rosa Fort High, he had adjusted comfortably as a member of the fraternity that is major high school football.
A multi-position athlete for the Lions, Perkins is the catalyst for a Rosa Fort team that has already atoned for last year’s disastrous 4-8 finish. (Photos submitted by S. Robinson)

Make no mistake, Perkins, a 6-foot, 215-pounder, has been an integral force for a Lion offensive unit that has averaged near 30 points through five contests.

A team that averages a little more than 200 yards on the ground, Perkins is the team’s leading rusher with 679 yards on 74 carries. To his credit, he is the team’s marquee player, particularly on the offensive side of ball, considering he averages 135.8 yards rushing per game and 9.2 yards per carry. In addition, he has accounted for 11 of the Lions’ 12 rushing touchdown.

Not bad for a kid who, through just five games, has already eclipsed his rushing total of last when he amassed 664 yards on the ground and eight rushing scores.

Most importantly, it’s safe to assume that his mother appears more relaxed nowadays, in large part because her son has been as good as advertised.

“I never looked at him as a football player,” Robinson told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “It was his (high school) baseball coach who convinced him to try out for the team during his sophomore year. It actually shocked me to see him become great at a sport that is so physical in such a short period of time.”

That Perkins has adjusted masterfully in recent years, it seems that college scouts and recruiters have taken notice of his rise as a high school standout.

That’s because according to Perkins, Mississippi State, Mississippi Delta Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Alcorn State, Southeast Missouri State, and Copiah Lincoln Community College all have expressed interest in a three-year starter who figures to witness that list increase as the season progresses.

STOCK RISING --- According to Perkins, Mississippi State, Mississippi Delta Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Alcorn State, Southeast Missouri State, and Copiah Lincoln Community College all have expressed interest in a three-year starter who figures to witness that list increase as the season progresses.

STOCK RISING — According to Perkins, Mississippi State, Mississippi Delta Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Alcorn State, Southeast Missouri State, and Copiah Lincoln Community College all have expressed interest in a three-year starter who figures to witness that list increase as the season progresses.

“I want college coaches to know that I am eager to play,” said Perkins, when asked what he wants college coaches to know about him as he continues to audition for a scholarship. “I will go after every play 100 percent each time.”

As for his keen ability to adjust on both sides of the ball, Perkins said, “I am a versatile skills player, and if the ball is in my hands, you can count on me. I work out three times out of a week if I am not practicing. My biggest strengths are running people over, using my speed to get past the opponent, and blocking. My weakness is getting hit below the knees.”

Rosa Fort coach Edwin Norwood on Thursday said he is thoroughly pleased with how Perkins has gone about upgrading his mechanics over the years.

“Over the past three seasons, Kevin has developed as the prototypical student athlete,” Norwood said. “He embodies everything a coach could ask for in a student athlete. Not only does he take care of business on the field, but in the classroom as well. Kevin finished all of major credits for graduation his junior season and has already qualified academically for college. He’s a hard-worker, respectful, and a natural leader. His success on the field is a direct reflection of that. He is the first one on the field and in the weight room and the last to leave.”

So much for mom’s constant worrying.

There’s no other way to put it.

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.”

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.