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.

 

Perennial power Tennessee among colleges eyeing Washington, DC-area hoops standout Maya Calder

Maya Calder doesn’t have anything to hide.

As a rising basketball standout at National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Maryland, among the lofty ambitions for the junior forward/center is plain and simple: earn an athletic scholarship.

STOCK RISING --- Given the success National Christian Academy basketball standout Maya Calder has enjoyed since coming to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica some seven years ago, the possibility exist that this hoops prodigy appears well on her way to putting her immense skills on display at the collegiate level. (Photo by Getty Images)

STOCK RISING — Given the success National Christian Academy basketball standout Maya Calder has enjoyed since coming to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica some seven years ago, the possibility exist that this hoops prodigy appears well on her way to putting her immense skills on display at the collegiate level. (Photo by Getty Images)

Given the success on the court Calder has enjoyed since coming to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica some seven years ago, the possibility exist that this hoops prodigy appears well on her way to putting her immense skills on display at the collegiate level.

Entering her third full season at NCA, Calder played an integral role for a Lady Eagle team that produced an impressive postseason run last year en route to a 25-9 finish. In addition, NCA finished the year ranked No. 6 overall in Maryland, according to Maxpreps.com.

For Calder, she enjoyed a stellar sophomore campaign for coach Henry Anglin’s squad, considering she recorded a double-double in nearly every contest.

The team’s second tallest player behind senior Mikiyah Croskey, the 6-foot, 16-year-old Calder averaged 10 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists for the Lady Eagles, who won 11 of 13 games to end the season.

“My last season was good and I always try to make every season better than the (previous one),” said Calder, assessing her overall display as a sophomore. “I practice four days a week in the offseason and practice five days a week during the season. My strength as a player is that I’m very athletic, a great rebounder, and a great defender.”

Some might label that which Calder has expressed as cockiness or boasting. However, to her credit, her consistency, poise, and assertiveness on the court consequently have drawn the attention of a slew of college scouts.

HUGE TIP-IN --- That Calder has progressed considerably as a basketball player in such a brief time span since relocating to the U.S. with her mom has prompted to her uncle, Stephen Baker to assume a vital role in ensuring she garners the essential exposure in her quest to solidify an athletic scholarship.

HUGE TIP-IN — That Calder has progressed considerably as a basketball player in such a brief time span since relocating to the U.S. with her mom has prompted to her uncle, Stephen Baker to assume a vital role in ensuring she garners the essential exposure in her quest to solidify an athletic scholarship.

According to Calder, she has fielded letters of interest from several major Division 1 schools, mostly notably, the University of Minnesota, Jacksonville University,

Hofstra University, Robert Morris, St. Mary’s College, The University of North, North Carolina A&T, George Washington University, Elon University, and the University of Tennessee, among others.

That Calder has progressed considerably as a basketball player in such a brief time span since relocating to the U.S. with her mom has prompted to her uncle, Stephen Baker to assume a vital role in ensuring she garners the essential exposure in her quest to solidify an athletic scholarship.

STAR WATCH --- According to Calder, she has fielded letters of interest from several major Division 1 schools, mostly notably, the University of Minnesota, Jacksonville University,  Hofstra University, Robert Morris, St. Mary’s College, The University of North, North Carolina A&T, George Washington University, Elon University, and the University of Tennessee, among others.

STAR WATCH — According to Calder, she has fielded letters of interest from several major Division 1 schools, mostly notably, the University of Minnesota, Jacksonville University,
Hofstra University, Robert Morris, St. Mary’s College, The University of North, North Carolina A&T, George Washington University, Elon University, and the University of Tennessee, among others.

Baker’s son, Malachi Baker, also is a rising basketball standout in the Washington, DC area and has become a fixture on the local AAU circuit.

“I first saw her interest when she first arrived in this country around 2008,” Baker said of Calder. “She began playing basketball on a team around that same time. I was excited for her as an uncle, considering that she (relocated) here from Jamaica and began playing   playground basketball with little to no skills.”

As Baker tells it, what separates Calder from other youngsters with whom she plays is that she has managed to accept and embrace constructive criticism, something about which she must become familiar at the collegiate level.

“When I’ve watch her play, I’m constantly critiquing her,” said Baker, “but I am also overjoyed to see her hard work on display.”

Said Calder, a marquee player for Team Sol, her DC-area AAU squad, when asked what she’d like for college coaches to know: “The colleges that offer me (a scholarship) will be inheriting a hard-worker, a great rebounder and defender, and also someone that can put it in the basket.”

What’s so astounding for a player of Calder’s caliber is that not only has she done a masterful job of generating interest of scouts, but as it pertains to her weaknesses, she two full season of high school ball ahead of her to fine tune them.

“My weakness is probably my ball-handling,” Calder said. “But I’m not as bad, but it’s also not as great as I want it to be.”

Regardless, she still has more than enough time to progress, something she’s constant done she arrived to the states.

“In the summer, I will be at camps and I’ll have my AAA teammates (to help improve my mechanics),” Calder said. Playing college ball is a dream for me, because that’s what I’ve been working hard for every day. I’ve get in the gym since I was young just so I get a scholarship.”

Plain and simple.

With absolutely nothing to hide.

 

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

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Ex-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.

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.

North Carolina prep hoops standout Dakari Johnson having Mid-South, regional impact

STAR WATCH --- Dakari Johnson is the starting point guard for Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Having adopted No. 10 as his jersey number, this 15-year-old rising basketball standout has become a fixture on the amateur hoops circuit in years, most notably on an AAU platform in which he’s had the luxury to competing with a host of players of former NBA All-Stars. (Photos submitted by G. Johnson)

STAR WATCH — Dakari Johnson is the starting point guard for Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Having adopted No. 10 as his jersey number, this 15-year-old rising basketball standout has become a fixture on the amateur hoops circuit in years, most notably on an AAU platform in which he’s had the luxury to competing with a host of players of former NBA All-Stars. (Photos submitted by G. Johnson)

In case you don’t know him, allow Dakari Johnson to introduce himself.

For starters, Johnson is the starting point guard for Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Having adopted No. 10 as his jersey number, this 15-year-old rising basketball standout has become a fixture on the amateur hoops circuit in years, most notably on an AAU platform in which he’s had the luxury to competing with a host of players who are sons of former NBA players.

A speedy, versatile athlete who stands at 6-foot even and weighs 175-pound, Johnson, by many recruiting experts’ standards, would be considered a rather big point man who, in all likelihood, will present mostly a size advantage for the opposition, particularly at the high school ranks.

Most importantly, for an athlete who figures to emerge as one of the nation’s finest point guards for the Class of 2018 by the time his prep career ends, Johnson’s all-around display at the AAU ranks has given way to a wealth of experience for a kid his age, a pivotal attribute that figures to prove beneficial for a Northwood Academy team that will be aiming to rebound from last year’s unsatisfactory 13-16 finish.

In a nutshell, as Johnson goes, the possibility exist that so could the Eagles in 2015-16.

By all accounts, that Johnson is expected to witness his role increase mightily this upcoming season for Northwood Academy essentially brings Eagle coach Chris Lattimer to smiles whenever he is asked to assess the skills and progress of his prized floor general.

“Dakari is the type of point guard college coaches love,” Lattimer told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Tuesday. “He has a very quick first step, extremely high (basketball) IQ, and has a deadly jump shot.”

What’s equally impressive for Johnson who, for the past couple of years, has thoroughly embraced the golden opportunity of putting his immense skills on display in tradition-rich, basketball-crazed North Carolina, is that he has evolved into an efficient ball handler and scorer, something about which will almost certain draw rave reviews from college scouts and recruiters during the course of what is expected to be a memorable prep hoops stint for the talented floor general.

GOOD AS ADVERTISED --- What’s equally impressive for Johnson who, for the past couple of years, has thoroughly embraced the golden opportunity of putting his immense skills on display in tradition-rich, basketball-crazed North Carolina, is that he has evolved into an efficient ball handler and scorer, something about which will almost certain draw rave reviews from college scouts and recruiters during the course of what is expected to be a memorable prep hoops stint for the talented floor general.

GOOD AS ADVERTISED — What’s equally impressive for Johnson who, for the past couple of years, has thoroughly embraced the golden opportunity of putting his immense skills on display in tradition-rich, basketball-crazed North Carolina, is that he has evolved into an efficient ball handler and scorer, something about which will almost certain draw rave reviews from college scouts and recruiters during the course of what is expected to be a memorable prep hoops stint for the talented floor general.

Take, for instance, Johnson’s performance a couple of summers ago in the YBOA National Championship during which he had had gone on a tear offensively — early and often.

A then-eighth grader who assumed a role on a 10-grade squad assembled by his father and retired military vet, Gregory Johnson, Dakari — known widely as “Kari” — essentially enjoyed an amateur hoops coming-out-party, of sorts. That’s when he caught by registering a team-high 28 points in the title game, a dazzling feat that led to him being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Consequently, Kari was the catalyst for East Hoke Middle’s basketball team, having guided the squad to consecutive championships, thus being christened the team’s Most Valuable Player.

Add to the fact that this up-and-coming hoops prodigy, who boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate and professional levels, have competed against a slew of the nation’s finest amateur players, and it’s no wonder many who have followed the hoops prowess of Kari believe he will be as good as advertised this upcoming season.

And beyond.

Once again, in case you don’t know him, remember the name: Dakari Johnson.

“He started playing basketball at the age of five,” said Gregory Johnson, assessing his son’s rise as a young baller. “We felt basketball could be his thing because at that age, he was so much faster than all the other kids his age. The coaches depended on him to bring the ball up the court. I guess you could say he was destined to be a point guard. How I knew he could be special came at a parks and recreation basketball draft. That was my first year coaching parks, and recreation basketball and I was away with the military the previous year, so many of the coaches didn’t know me. So my son was the first name came up in the draft. I would watch these grown men rant and rave over Dakari.”

Fortunately for Kari, many who have followed him on the amateur circuit in recent years have been ranting and raving ever since.

Given his wealth of success in recent years, don’t expect that change anytime soon.

NATIONAL STANDOUT? Add to the fact that this up-and-coming hoops prodigy, who boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate and professional levels, have competed against a slew of the nation’s finest amateur players --- most notably against Kenny Smith, Jr., the son of former NBA player and current TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith --- and it’s no wonder many who have followed the hoops prowess of Kari believe he will be as good as advertised this upcoming season.  And beyond.

NATIONAL STANDOUT? Add to the fact that this up-and-coming hoops prodigy, who boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate and professional levels, have competed against a slew of the nation’s finest amateur players, several of whom are sons of former NBA players, it’s no wonder many who have followed the hoops prowess of Kari believe he will be as good as advertised this upcoming season.
And beyond.

Among the reasons is Kari enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign in which he averaged 16 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals. In addition, he was named to the All-Conference team, while placing third overall in the voting for Conference Player of the Year as a freshman.

Still, his masterful display as a newcomer enabled him to garner All-Tournament honors as well as the County’s Rookie of the Year, team MVP and captain.

A pretty compelling introduction for a floor general who, well, in case you don’t know him.

“He is a leader and a winner, and his game will continue to progress,” Lattimer said of Kari. “Dakari is a motivated student and has outstanding character.”

Let alone a kid whom college scouts and recruiters will come to know pretty well this year.

And beyond.

Once again, in case you don’t know him, remember the name: Dakari Johnson.

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.

Manassas hoops standout Joslynn Basemore excelling with solid parental support

When Manassas basketball standout Joslynn Basemore decided she would like to give a competitive hoops a try nearly a decade ago, her mother wasted little time conducting a one-on-one meeting with her.

As Michelle Basemore explains, it was imperative that she and daughter got a thorough understanding.

Michelle“See…when she started playing ball, we had this understanding that in order to play, she had to bring me home all A’s regardless of what the school says…that you must have a C average,” Michelle Basemore told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “That just didn’t do it for me. And since day one, she has been bringing all A’s home and staying focus on training on and off the court.”

For Joslynn Basemore, it is because of her mother’s stern but strict approach, coupled with her fiancée’s — Daren Peterson — influential guidance and impact that has greatly enabled Joslynn Basemore to excel in the classroom and on the hardwood, thus make a solid case to solidify an athletic scholarship.

A 5-foot-4 senior combo guard and the team’s leading scorer, Joslynn Basemore is the featured player for a Manassas squad that will be aiming to surpass last year’s 14-10 finish. Since joining the Lady Tigers’ program three seasons ago, Joslynn Basemore admittedly harbored concerns as to whether for a thriving young basketball player in this hoops-crazed Bluff City, she’d generate the essential attention at a school that is housed in inner city North Memphis.

To her credit, though, not only has she garnered interest from a couple of schools — most notably Georgia State and Austin Peay State — but if she manages to duplicate the success she enjoyed the previous two seasons as the Lady Tiger’s best offensive threat, the possibility exists that Joslynn Basemore will almost certainly find herself decked out in a college basketball uniform around this time next year.

Of course, she’ll have her mother and father to thank.

“In the last three years, my dad, Daren Peterson, has been my biggest support by training me,” Joslynn Basemore said. “He has worked with me on and off the court on enhancing my skills. I also train with my AAU team (in the offseason) as well, and also train with (Manassas teammates). I always push myself by keeping a ball in my hand at all times and doing dribbling drills daily when I’m not studying.”

DarenMichelle Basemore and Daren Peterson are former athletes which, for Joslynn Basemore, have provided her with an added advantage, or sorts, as a young, thriving student athlete.

Even aside from their demanding work schedules, this couple has become devoted to ensuring that Joslynn Basemore is generating the necessary exposure that will prevent her from going unnoticed, especially for an athlete who has proven time and again since entering the high school ranks that she possesses the skills, mindset, and maturity to play at the collegiate level.

A program director at Vatterott College, Daren Peter is native Memphian and former Memphis Tech High and Northwest Mississippi Community College basketball player. In addition, he is a former U.S. soldier, having served in the United States Navy, where he was a member of its Fleet Team.

Michelle Basemore, on the other hand, is a native of Horseshoe Lake, Arkansas, and works as a bill collector/debt counselor in the Memphis-metropolitan area. She is a former basketball standout for Hughes (Ark.) High.

COLLEGE HOOPS MATERIAL --- A 5-foot-4 senior combo guard and the team’s leading scorer, Joslynn Basemore is the featured player for a Manassas squad that will be aiming to surpass last year’s 14-10 finish. Since joining the Lady Tigers’ program three seasons ago, Joslynn Basemore admittedly harbored concerns as to whether for a thriving young basketball player in this hoops-crazed Bluff City, she’d generate the essential attention at a school that is housed in inner city North Memphis.  To her credit, though, not only has she garnered interest from a couple of schools --- most notably Georgia State and Austin Peay State --- but if she manages to duplicate the success she enjoyed the previous two seasons as the Lady Tiger’s best offensive threat, the possibility exists that Joslynn Basemore will almost certainly find herself decked out in a college basketball uniform around this time next year.

COLLEGE HOOPS MATERIAL — A 5-foot-4 senior combo guard and the team’s leading scorer, Joslynn Basemore is the featured player for a Manassas squad that will be aiming to surpass last year’s 14-10 finish. Since joining the Lady Tigers’ program three seasons ago, Joslynn Basemore admittedly harbored concerns as to whether for a thriving young basketball player in this hoops-crazed Bluff City, she’d generate the essential attention at a school that is housed in inner city North Memphis.
To her credit, though, not only has she garnered interest from a couple of schools — most notably Georgia State and Austin Peay State — but if she manages to duplicate the success she enjoyed the previous two seasons as the Lady Tiger’s best offensive threat, the possibility exists that Joslynn Basemore will almost certainly find herself decked out in a college basketball uniform around this time next year.

In helping her daughter flourish as one of Shelby-Metro’s top players for the Class of 2016, Michelle Basemore acknowledges among the notable lessons she’s learned through sports that she’s instilled in Joslynn Basemore is to take the initiative to raise the bar in excelling on and off the court.

“One of the main lessons that I have learned and have tried to carry over to her is that you never give up on the things that you want regardless of what it looks like and what others may say,” Michelle Basemore explains. “Joslynn has had to make the same move I did when I was in school, moving from one city to another. But I didn’t have anyone to push me to keep going and to pursue what I loved at the time which was basketball. So I push her to continue to strive to be her best even the more because she is the new kid on the block. She must understand that doesn’t mean that she has to take the backseat she can set the bar and be the standard.”

Said Peterson: “I always tell her that by working hard, everything else will take care of itself, and that if she is going to be a leader, she needs to be a leader on and off the court.”

In addition, Peterson and his fiancée have become fixtures during the summer months when their daughter is putting her skills on display on the AAU circuit. Both, in fact, agree that never do they grow weary of supporting a well-disciplined, teachable child who routinely goes above and beyond to ensure the Manassas girls basketball program remains relevant in this hoops-crazed city.

To her credit, she’s done just that, something about which her parents say college scouts and recruiters shouldn’t overlook or take for granted.

“The sky is the limit for her because not only does she excels in basketball with a 22.5 (points per game scoring) average but she has a 4.3 GPA, which puts her in the top of her class as well as she is part of The National Honor Society,” Peterson said. “Even with all the gifts and talents that she possesses, the sky is the limit because she believes in putting God first in everything that she does and she thanks Him first and foremost, knowing that if she continues to bless Him, He will continue to bless her. She should hold on to the fact the greater is coming so the sky is the limit.”

Spoken like true, loving, supportive parents.

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.

Is Cal-area footballer Dalvin Jamal-Milton being overlooked by Mid-South, Pac 12 schools?

Lorenzo Jackson remembers that 10-foot pole, remembers it like yesterday.

At the tender age of three, Jackson’s grandson, Dalvin Jamal-Milton — a rather active, energetic kid — was seen somehow climbing atop that rather long, medal pole during what ultimately turned into a holiday worth remembering for his beloved paw paw.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' --- A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California --- in the outskirts of Sacramento --- could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.  A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations. (Photos submitted by A. Jamal)

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ — A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California — in the outskirts of Sacramento — could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.
A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations. (Photos submitted by A. Jamal)

“When he was three years old, Dalvin climbed up a 10-foot pole, using pure arm and stomach strength just to reach an Easter egg,” Jackson told sports journalist Andre Johnson. I knew from that point on he would be an elite football player.”

A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California — in the outskirts of Sacramento — could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.

A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations.

Never mind the assortment of accolades he’s garnered in recent years, honors such as: the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in  2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

A TRUE TALENT --- Jamal-Milton was named the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in  2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

A TRUE TALENT — Jamal-Milton was named the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in 2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

To his credit, this thriving multisport athlete had shown flashes of resiliency during what was an efficient junior campaign.

In being installed in his first full season on the varsity squad, Jamal-Milton essentially showed no signs of rust, having ended the season with 424 rushing yards and five rushing scorers. To his credit, he managed to help propel the Marauders on effective drives, considering he averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

He was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings.

MR. ALL-AROUND --- He was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings.

MR. ALL-AROUND — Jamal-Milton was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings last year.

Still, looking ahead, many who have followed Jamal-Milton’s rise and development as a football standout — he runs an average of 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash and bench presses approximately 225 pounds — believe he possesses the tools and skills to play football at the collegiate level, although he has yet to field any official scholarships offers.

But what does Jamal-Milton thinks about all this?

“I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

CHECK OUT JAMAL-MILTON IN ACTION: http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/dalvin-jamal-milton/Hlph8hysEeS00gAmVebEWg/videos.htm?videoid=46d0b324-edd6-40fe-80ae-b627453afd69

What so astounding about his athletic progress over the years, Jamal-Milton said, is that he had grown accustomed to silencing naysayers and critics — or those who sensed that as an undersized athlete, he didn’t have what it takes to compete at a high level.

Uh oh.

Somebody told them wrong.

HE SAID IT --- “I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

HE SAID IT — “I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

“Since the day I first set foot on the field with my helmet and shoulder pads in hand, I’ve always been looked at as a lesser child,” Jamal-Milton explained. “As a result of being looked at this way, I was moved to play on the (offensive) line. I played line until my sixth grade year. I remember my uncle, Rashad Jamal, walking into my room and asking me if I’m ready to work. I replied saying, ‘Yes, but for what?’ He replied to me, saying, ‘For your opportunity.’

“From that day on, I worked every day to cut weight in order to be eligible as a running back,” Jamal-Milton continued. “When the day came for weigh-ins, I made weight and ran the ball for the first time like I never thought I could. Every day I wake up, I remember the work and pain I had to go through that led to the life I live today. I often realize that with hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, great things can be accomplished without a doubt.”

A trend that, to his credit, has taken place time and again since he his grandfather, his self-proclaimed “No. 1 fan,” caught his climbing that 10-foot pole at the tender age of three.

For Jamal-Milton, the biggest question now is at what point college scouts will acknowledge his assertiveness and immense skills.

 

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.

 

California prep footballer Elijah Orr getting looks from Mid-South, West Coast colleges

For Elijah Orr, it wasn’t merely a moment of failure.

Rather, it was a moment that, to his credit, inspired him to overcome the toughest of life’s hurdles.

LISTEN UP --- A player who has gone to great lengths to build a solid resume since being cut from his youth football team more than a decade ago, Elijah Orr has a direct message for schools who are currently eyeing him. “I'm a team first oriented player and I play to win,” Elijah Orr said. “I can be relied upon and feel that I can be an impact player at multiple positions. I give 110 percent every day.

LISTEN UP — A player who has gone to great lengths to build a solid resume since being cut from his youth football team more than a decade ago, Elijah Orr has a direct message for schools who are currently eyeing him.
“I’m a team first oriented player and I play to win,” Elijah Orr said. “I can be relied upon and feel that I can be an impact player at multiple positions. I give 110 percent every day.

At just six years age, Orr’s mother, Tia Orr, allowed him to try out for a Sacramento-area recreational football team.

However, an unfortunate development transpired days before the youngster was looking to suit up for his first competitive outing.

On the final day of tryouts, Elijah was cut by the coaches, something about which gave way to a sense of disappointment for his mother, who recalls like yesterday how it all unfolded.

He was devastated and, of course, I was too,” Tia Orr told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “Elijah realized through that experience however that he was going to have to work really hard to get recognition. At only 6-7 years old he would go outside and practice for hours on his own with out even being asked. I remember watching him over the years going out with his dad learning the mechanics of football and boy did it all his hard work pay off. He is now one of the best defensive players in the game.”

PROVEN LEADER --- Orr's breakthrough season undoubtedly occurred last year when the 6-foot, 180-pound defensive specialist was as good as advertised for a Grant’s national standout squad that took a 14-0 record into last year state championship game before falling big to Folsom.

PROVEN LEADER — Orr’s breakthrough season undoubtedly occurred last year when the 6-foot, 180-pound defensive specialist was as good as advertised for a Grant’s national standout squad that took a 14-0 record into last year state championship game before falling big to Folsom.

As Tia Orr explains, her son had spent countless hours working individually with his father, learning a variety of mechanics from blocking and tackling.

The rest, as they say, is history.

MORE ON ELIJAH ORR: http://www.sacbee.com/sports/high-school/article2925762.html

Not only did Elijah Orr become a marquee player the following year for the very team from which he was cut, but today, the 17-year-old is making his presence felt at the high school ranks.

An All-Section (district) strong safety for Grant High in Sacramento, California, Elijah Orr has been nothing short of impressive, a far cry from a kid who, a little more than a decade ago, was seen with his head buried in the palm of his hands — all because at the age of six, he was force to learn the hard way of just how commendable it is to clear hurdles and conquer arguably the toughest of obstacles.

Orr13To his credit, Elijah Orr had masterfully defied the odds, ultimately blossoming into one of California’s finest prep players for the Class of 2016.

His breakthrough season undoubtedly occurred last year when the 6-foot, 180-pound defensive specialist was as good as advertised for a Grant’s national standout squad that took a 14-0 record into last year state semifinal game falling big to Folsom.

OrrtackleIn helping the Pacers to an undefeated regular season, a Delta League crown, and an impressive postseason run, Elijah Orr started every game and was among the team’s best defenders, registering near 10 tackles per game.

Add to the fact that Elijah Orr runs an average of 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, bench presses somewhere around 250 pounds, and squats at 425, and it’s no wonder a number of colleges have taken into account that this kid undoubtedly possesses the skills and maturity to play at the next level.

MORE ON ELIJAH ORR: http://www.sacbee.com/sports/high-school/joe-davidson/article32275617.html

Elijah Orr, who has qualified academically, said he has garnered “countless letters” from a number of colleges, most notably from the University of Wyoming, the University of Nevada, the University Cal-Poly, Colorado State, and a host of Mid-South-area schools.

While he has yet to receive any official offers, many associated with Grant’s tradition-rich program believe Elijah Orr’s recruiting process will become more favorable in the coming weeks.

Among the reasons is that Elijah Orr was selected play in the annual Blue Grey All-American Game at season’s end. Also, he was chosen to play in the National All-American Game in Dallas’ AT&T Stadium in late December, an event that will feature a number of the elite players for the Class of 2016.

STOCK RISING --- Elijah Orr, who has qualified academically, said he has garnered “countless letters” from a number of colleges, most notably from the University of Wyoming, the University of Nevada, the University Cal-Poly, Colorado State, and a host of Mid-South-area schools. While he has yet to receive any official offers, many associated with Grant’s tradition-rich program believe Elijah Orr’s recruiting process will become more favorable in the coming weeks.

STOCK RISING — Elijah Orr, who has qualified academically, said he has garnered “countless letters” from a number of colleges, most notably from the University of Wyoming, the University of Nevada, the University Cal-Poly, Colorado State, and a host of Mid-South-area schools.
While he has yet to receive any official offers, many associated with Grant’s tradition-rich program believe Elijah Orr’s recruiting process will become more favorable in the coming weeks.

And, just recently, Elijah Orr was selected to participate in an Elite MVP Camp MVP in Los Angeles.

ELIJAH ORR’S SCOUTING REPORT/FOOTAGE: https://athletesforcollege.com/athletes/show/id/3412

A player who has gone to great lengths to build a solid resume since being cut from his youth football team more than a decade ago, Elijah Orr has a direct message for schools who are currently eyeing him.

“I’m a team first oriented player and I play to win,” Elijah Orr said. “I can be relied upon and feel that I can be an impact player at multiple positions. I give 110 percent every day. I have more heart than anyone on the field. I’m all about winning and perfection. Winning comes before personal satisfactions.

“I will do whatever it takes for my team to win ball games,” Elijah Orr continued. “I am a high energy player and am considered a leader among my peers. I love the excitement of the game and love contact.”

So much for being cut at the tender age of six.

 

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.

 

 

Prep hoops standout Tiffany Byrd making her presence felt in Tennessee and Texas

TiffanyHOUSTON — Tiffany Nicole Byrd is what one would describe as a military child.

How else to explain why she’s resided in a number of establishments across the country.

Born in Pensacola, Florida, Byrd has lived in Bartlett, Tennessee — which is the outskirts of Memphis — and Chesapeake, Virginia. Since earlier this year, she’s been a resident of Houston, where the rising basketball standout seemingly hasn’t missed a beat following masterful stints for Bon Lin Middle and Bartlett Ninth Grade Academy.

A newcomer to Houston’s George Ranch High basketball team this upcoming season, the speedy point guard figures to contribute immediately for a Lady Longhorn squad that ended the 2014-15 season having won eight of its last 12 outings to end the year with a 16-12 mark.

TEXAS SIZE IMPACT --- A newcomer to Houston’s George Ranch High basketball team this upcoming season, Tiffany Byrd figures to contribute immediately for a Lady Longhorn squad that ended the 2014-15 season having won eight of its last 12 outings to end the year with a 16-12 mark.

TEXAS SIZE IMPACT — A newcomer to Houston’s George Ranch High basketball team this upcoming season, Tiffany Byrd figures to contribute immediately for a Lady Longhorn squad that ended the 2014-15 season having won eight of its last 12 outings to end the year with a 16-12 mark.

Known largely for her resiliency and keen ability to be a facilitator on the floor, Byrd’s ability to create her own her shot coupled with her passion for the game will almost certainly prompt scouts to inquire about her services once her prep hoops career ends.

“I’ve been playing (basketball) since I was four,” Byrd told longtime journalist Andre Johnson. “I love the sport. When I play, I don’t think of anything else when I’m on the court.”

Because passion and enthusiasm for a sport are attributes coaches can’t merely teach athletes, the admiration Byrd’s exemplifies for basketball could prove beneficial now that she will be afforded the golden opportunity to put her hoops heroics on display in Texas, where they do things bigger here.

No one, it seems, realizes this more than her mother, Tena Byrd, who served 28 years in the Navy. As she tells it, ever since she first witnessed her daughter reach for a basketball nearly a decade ago, she sensed she would ultimately blossom into an efficient athlete.

MOM KNOWS BEST --- Because passion and enthusiasm for a sport aren’t attributes coaches can’t merely teach athletes, the admiration Byrd’s exemplifies for basketball could prove beneficial now that she will be afforded the golden opportunity to put her hoops heroics on display in Texas, where they do things bigger here.  No one, it seems, realizes this more than her mother, Tena Byrd, who served 28 years in the Navy.

MOM KNOWS BEST — Because passion and enthusiasm for a sport aren’t attributes coaches can’t merely teach athletes, the admiration Byrd’s exemplifies for basketball could prove beneficial now that she will be afforded the golden opportunity to put her hoops heroics on display in Texas, where they do things bigger here.
No one, it seems, realizes this more than her mother, Tena Byrd, who served 28 years in the Navy.

To Tiffany Byrd’s credit, she has been nothing short of impressive on the amateur hoops circuit.

“I was very proud of her and excited at the same time,” said Tena Byrd, recalling the first time Tiffany picked up a basketball at Bartlett Community Center.

As for a typical weekend, particularly as a basketball mom, Tena Byrd said that by all accounts, three words come to mind.

“Practice, practice, practice,” she said, “whether it’s going to a local, college, or NBA game. But I love to see her play, love it when she steals a ball and hits her (three-pointers).”

In her rise a basketball standout, Tena Byrd said she was mostly impressed when her daughter earned a spot on Bartlett’s junior varsity team last.

Once again, she didn’t disappoint. Instead, she made a strong case that surely, she has a future in the sports she has come to embrace.

“I was even happier to see her start (on JV),” Tena Byrd said in assessing her daughter’s play last year. I’m very happy for her. I pray that she stays focused off and on the court…prays she makes varsity. But if not, I hope she gets lots of playing time on JV.”

In addition to her impressive showing last year, Tiffany Byrd had proven to be just as effective off the court, in large part because she trained intensely under the direction of Cedric Anderson, her personal training coach. Besides basketball, she played T-ball for two-years and strongly considered soccer before deciding to settle solely on playing hoops.

“Her coaches have been very supportive,” Tena Byrd said. “I tell her constantly to get good grades, stay positive, and that basketball is a team sport. That means she is to respect her teammates because everyone makes mistakes.”

BRIGHT FUTURE --- Known largely for her resiliency and keen ability to be a facilitator on the floor, Byrd’s ability to create her own her shot coupled with her passion for the game will almost certainly prompt scouts to inquire about her services once her prep hoops career ends.

BRIGHT FUTURE — Known largely for her resiliency and keen ability to be a facilitator on the floor, Byrd’s ability to create her own her shot coupled with her passion for the game will almost certainly prompt scouts to inquire about her services once her prep hoops career ends.

As Tiffany Byrd — who has begun to build a solid rapport with her George Ranch teammates and coaches — continues to prepare for first full season of varsity basketball, her mother, like many others who have witnessed her development as a young athlete, knows the sky’s the limit for a kid who possesses the skills to play at the collegiate level.

“Because she is a child of God, anything is possible,” Tena Byrd said. “If she gives 100 percent at practice, stays positive, stays focus, and takes responsibility for her actions and respects others, there’s no limit to where she can go.”

Regardless of where around the country this military kid resides.

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.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle praises each Southwest Division team on making playoffs

SOUTHWEST SUCCESS --- Dallas Mavericks coach Carlisle’s most memorable campaign as an NBA coach came four years ago when he led Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs to their first world championship in franchise history, a six-game upset of the Miami Heat in their best-of-7 NBA Finals series. That year, three teams from the NBA’s Southwest Division (Dallas, San Antonio, and Memphis) had clinched playoff berths. This year, however, each of the division’s five teams have advanced to the postseason, a feat that was effectively decided on the regular season’s final day when the New Orleans Pelicans clinched a berth with a 108-103 win against the Spurs. (Joe Murphy/Getty Images Photo)

SOUTHWEST SUCCESS — Dallas Mavericks coach Carlisle’s most memorable campaign as an NBA coach came four years ago when he led Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs to their first world championship in franchise history, a six-game upset of the Miami Heat in their best-of-7 NBA Finals series. That year, three teams from the NBA’s Southwest Division (Dallas, San Antonio, and Memphis) had clinched playoff berths. This year, however, each of the division’s five teams have advanced to the postseason, a feat that was effectively decided on the regular season’s final day when the New Orleans Pelicans clinched a berth with a 108-103 win against the Spurs. (Joe Murphy/Getty Images Photo)

DALLAS — First team to 16 wins…

“The first one to 16 will have a pretty nice piece for their jewelry cabinet,” Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said while addressing reporters Thursday afternoon at American Airlines Center.

Carlisle was alluding to the 16 teams that have punched tickets to this year’s NBA playoffs, a nearly two-month-long marathon that will culminate with one franchise hoisting the covenant Larry O’Brien trophy.

Now in his seventh season as the Mavericks’ head man, arguably Carlisle’s most memorable campaign as an NBA coach came four years ago when he led Dallas to its first world championship in franchise history, a six-game upset of the Miami Heat in their best-of-7 NBA Finals series.

That year, three teams from the NBA’s Southwest Division (Dallas, San Antonio, and Memphis) had clinched playoff berths.

This year, however, each of the division’s five teams have advanced to the postseason, a feat that was effectively decided on the regular season’s final day when the New Orleans Pelicans clinched a berth with a 108-103 win against the Spurs.

HOT HANDED HARDEN --- The Southwest Division champion Rockets (56-26) are led by NBA Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden, the league’s second-leading scorer. Winners of three straight, the Rockets are in the postseason for a third consecutive year. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

HOT HANDED HARDEN — The Southwest Division champion Rockets (56-26) are led by NBA Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden, the league’s second-leading scorer.
Winners of three straight, the Rockets are in the postseason for a third consecutive year. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

“I think this is the toughest division in all of (professional) sports,” Carlisle said. “It has been for the last several years.”

Among the reasons is the Spurs (55-27) undoubtedly have been the division’s most consistent and dominant team. Making their franchise-best 18 consecutive postseason appearance when they open defense of their NBA title Sunday night at the No. 3 seed Los Angeles Clippers (56-26), the six-seeded Spurs have won five world titles during this stretch.

As for the Mavs, erasing the memory of last year’s seven-game opening-round defeat to San Antonio certainly will be a brutal task, considering seventh-seeded Dallas (50-32) will face the No. 2 seed Houston Rockets Saturday at 8:30 p.m. CST in Game 1 of their best-of-7 opening-round series.

BLOCK PARTY --- Marc Gasol (left) and the fifth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (55-27), whose 9-7 division record was the best among the other four teams, is making their franchise-record fifth consecutive playoff appearance and will open postseason play Sunday night at 7 CST against the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in FedExForum. (Photo by Jerome Miron/Getty Images)

BLOCK PARTY — Marc Gasol (left) and the fifth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (55-27), whose 9-7 division record was the best among the other four teams, is making their franchise-record fifth consecutive playoff appearance and will open postseason play Sunday night at 7 CST against the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in FedExForum. (Photo by Jerome Miron/Getty Images)

The Rockets (56-26) are led by NBA Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden, the league’s second-leading scorer.

Winners of three straight, the Rockets are in the postseason for a third consecutive year. Dallas is making its second straight playoff appearance.

The fifth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (55-27), whose 9-7 division record was the best among the other four teams, is making their franchise-record fifth consecutive playoff appearance and will open postseason play Sunday night at 7 CST against the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers (51-31) in FedExForum.

Memphis’ best postseason outing during this span took place two years ago when the Grizzlies manufactured their highest winning percentage and advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history.

Arguably the surprise Southwest Division team to make the playoffs is New Orleans.

The NBA’s fourth youngest team with an average age of 24.9 years, the Pelicans (45-37) played arguably their most complete game of the season, which couldn’t have come at a better time, considering New Orleans controlled its own destiny.

Led by Anthony Davis’ 31 points and 13 rebounds, the Pelicans withstood a furious late rally by the defending champs to solidify the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot in the regular season finale, thus ending a four-year postseason drought.

Next up for upset-minded Pelicans is an opening-round date with the top-seeded Golden State Warriors, starting with Saturday’s Game 1 at 2:30 p.m. CST.

Led by Stephen Curry, whom many consider the frontrunner for league MVP, the high-octane Warriors enter the postseason with the NBA’s best record at 67-15.

Come Saturday, the race to 16 wins begins.

Which, of course, begs the question: Will the Larry O’Brien trophy remain in the Southwest Division for a second consecutive year?

As far as Carlisle is concerned, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if it does.

“It’s just quality teams from top to bottom,” Carlisle said of the Southwest Division. “During the battles of the division opponents during the year, I mean those were slugfest games. They were extremely meaningful. There’s a lot of wear and tear. (Games) were very physical. They’re emotional. But when you get a division like this, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and it gets everybody primed for this time of year.”

Let the nearly two-month-long marathon begin.

First team to 16 wins…

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.