Former Memphis-area educator Rekeshia Hudson takes brave leap of faith into entrepreneurship

“The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.” (Deuteronomy 28:12)

 

hhhhJust days ago, Rekeshia Hudson was asked to assess why the above Biblical passage undoubtedly is her favorite.

As usual, she wasted little time paying homage to her Creator.

“This passage impacts my life daily, because it is a promise from the Lord,” Hudson told longtime journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “He keeps His promises.”

From the time she recalled like yesterday when she roamed the campus of tradition-rich Memphis Whitehaven High, to when she worked earnestly toward pursuing her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Memphis, to when she steadfastly persevered until she possessed her much-anticipated Master’s of Education degree from nearby Freed Hardeman University, Hudson can dauntlessly attest that God has kept His promises.

In fact, given the immense strides she’s made over the years, it’s safe to assume that God not only delivered on His emphatic, life-changing pledges but, for Hudson, He’s shown her daily the calling about which He’s intentionally given her.

Now, unlike never before, it’s safe to assume that she’s not only basking in the glory and splendor of these promises but, above all, she’s walking diligently in her divine purpose.

“I have a heart for children,” Hudson explained. “I have a love for helping. I believe I can change the world, one child at a time.”

To her credit, she’s doing just that — with God, her Helper, leading the way.

AMAZING GRACE AND FAVOR --- A native Memphian and a married mother of two adorable daughters (Chance Imani and Rylee Grace), Rekeshia Hudson is a former Memphis-area educator and a current Mid-South area business owner. A notable education tenure in which she served Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade students, as well as assumed the role as an elementary school counselor in what she describes as an “urban setting,” Hudson has appropriately shifted her focus to entrepreneurialship. As she tells it, such a lofty transition, by all accounts, was a colossal leap of faith, one about which she’s thoroughly convinced was orchestrated by Almighty God from the outset.

AMAZING GRACE AND FAVORA native Memphian and a married mother of two adorable daughters (Chance Imani and Rylee Grace), Rekeshia Hudson is a former Memphis-area educator and a current Mid-South area business owner.
A notable education tenure in which she served Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade students, as well as assumed the role as an elementary school counselor in what she describes as an “urban setting,” Hudson has appropriately shifted her focus to entrepreneurialship.
As she tells it, such a lofty transition, by all accounts, was a colossal leap of faith, one about which she’s thoroughly convinced was orchestrated by Almighty God from the outset.

A native Memphian and a married mother of two adorable daughters (Chance Imani and Rylee Grace), Hudson is a former Memphis-area educator and a current Mid-South area business owner.

A notable education tenure in which she served Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade students, as well as assumed the role as an elementary school counselor in what she describes as an “urban setting,” Hudson has appropriately shifted her focus to entrepreneurship.

As she tells it, such a lofty transition, by all accounts, was a colossal leap of faith, one about which she’s thoroughly convinced was orchestrated by Almighty God from the outset.

Never mind that she’s relatively new to all of this.

After all, with God, all things are possible because, if Hudson said it once, she’s said it countless times.

He keeps His promises.

“God is awesome and I am excited about the possibilities of what is to come,” said Hudson, explaining the significance of why she had to obey the voice of God and change careers. “I am thankful that I can take my daughter back and forth to school without stressing to get to work on two wheels. I am thankful that I can volunteer at my daughter’s school. I am blessed to wake up in the morning excited about going to do what I absolutely love, helping middle income families plan their finances. I am glad I jumped.”

Fortunately for Hudson, she had arguably her grandest cheerleader, who pushed her to jump, thus take that long-awaited leap of faith both in the natural and spirit.

“My husband is that calming voice that reminds me that all is well,” said Hudson, acknowledging Cleothues Hudson, Jr., her high school sweetheart and husband of nine years. “He allows me to pour out of my soul what I envision. He is extremely supportive in business and in our personal life. He is very hands-on and very vocal.”

Not to mention arguably the best coworkers with whom she’s ever crossed paths.

“His partnership is further confirmation from God that it was more than permissible to leap and change our lives so that we can be free from a boss, love God more through the ministry of generosity, spend time with our girls, date one another and help other families to achieve their financial goals,” Rekeshia Hudson said. “My husband keeps me focused. I am grateful for my forever friend.”

LOVE BIRDS --- Fortunately for Hudson, she had arguably her grandest cheerleader, who pushed her to jump, thus take that long-awaited leap of faith both in the natural and spirit. “My husband is that calming voice that reminds me that all is well,” said Hudson, acknowledging Cleothues Hudson, Jr., her husband of nine years. “He allows me to pour out of my soul what I envision. He is extremely supportive in business and in our personal life. He is very hands-on and very vocal.”

LOVE BIRDSFortunately for Hudson, she had arguably her grandest cheerleader, who pushed her to jump, thus take that long-awaited leap of faith both in the natural and spirit.
“My husband is that calming voice that reminds me that all is well,” said Hudson, acknowledging Cleothues Hudson, Jr., her husband of nine years. “He allows me to pour out of my soul what I envision. He is extremely supportive in business and in our personal life. He is very hands-on and very vocal.”

A little more than seven years removed from having suffered consecutive miscarriages — in October 2008 and April 2009 — for the Hudsons, it’s evident that God has surely allowed His countenance to shine upon them.

“We quickly learned how precious life is,” Rekeshia Hudson said of losing two sons to miscarriages. “This experience taught us the importance of togetherness. We have conquered many battles and entrepreneurship is definitely squeezing the potential from my husband and me.”

Now it’s on to bigger and better things, on to creating more lasting memories that, come to think of it, were apart of God’s plans all along.

Besides, if Rekeshia Hudson said it once, she’s said it countless time.

He keeps His promises.

“We realize if we can dream it, we can do it,” she said. “If we can think it, we can bring it to past. We are on another level with our thinking and with Christ, there is nothing impossible.”

As usual, she wasted little time paying homage to her Creator.



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nEDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, athlete, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

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

Health-Tech Institute of Memphis becoming a fixture in Bluff City, surrounding areas

AAAAAJust recently, Ronald Kendall Washington was asked to summarize the longstanding mission for his flourishing organization, the Health-Tech Institute of Memphis.

He appropriately fielded the question as if he expected it.

“HTIM’s mission statement is, ‘Learn It! Know It! Apply It!’ Washington told long time journalist Andre Johnson.

To his credit, coupled with the dedicatory service and favorable contributions of his staff, this is, by all accounts, amongst the grandest reasons Washington’s organization has become the educational beacon of light, of sorts, for which it is widely known.

“This motto states exactly how we treat and the expected outcomes we have for our students,” Washington explained. “From the initial interview, to graduation, and any post graduate contact we have with our students, we design a training plan for them to achieve their goals in their chosen field.  It is imperative that they understand that day one.”

WWWWThe longtime owner and chief executive officer of Health-Tech Institute of Memphis along with his wife, Melanie, who’s the institution’s president and brings to HTIM well over two decades of experience in the education sector, HTIM for some time has been a fixture in the Memphis-metropolitan area.

Located at 571 Vance Avenue in the heart of South Memphis, HTIM is a post-secondary educational institution by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and is approved for Veterans Training by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

According to the organization’s website (http://www.htimphs.com/), HTIM routinely offers certifications in Certified Medical Assisting, Health-Information Management (or Medical Billing and Coding), Office Administration,  Patient Care Technician, and National Craft Assessment (NCCER).

“HTIM (also) provides training in the fields of Allied Health and Business Services,” Ronald Washington acknowledged.

That’s because Allied Health and Business Services both are demand occupation sectors in the United States, in large part because they have been identified by the local greater Memphis Labor Analysis Data as well for the area.

CHECK OUT HTIM ONLINE: http://www.htimphs.com/.

That, as a result, figures to benefit the Bluff City and surrounding areas for years to come.

In a nutshell, HTIM is just what Memphis needs and, because its staff is one that is well-experienced and has made education an integral force surrounding his mission, it’s safe to assume this organization’s best and brightest days are well ahead of it.

According to a spokesperson for HTIM, this post-secondary educational institution has been training individuals since November 1999.

MAKING STRIDES --- Located at 571 Vance Avenue in the heart of South Memphis, HTIM is a post-secondary educational institution by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and is approved for Veterans Training by the Department of Veterans Affairs. According to the organization’s website (http://www.htimphs.com/), HTIM routinely offers certifications in Certified Medical Assisting, Health-Information Management (or Medical Billing and Coding), Office Administration, Patient Care Technician, and National Craft Assessment (NCCER).

MAKING STRIDESLocated at 571 Vance Avenue in the heart of South Memphis, HTIM is a post-secondary educational institution by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and is approved for Veterans Training by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to the organization’s website (http://www.htimphs.com/), HTIM routinely offers certifications in Certified Medical Assisting, Health-Information Management (or Medical Billing and Coding), Office Administration, Patient Care Technician, and National Craft Assessment (NCCER).

Add to the fact that countless students have earned diplomas and professional/technical certifications in their chosen fields since HTIM’s inception, and it’s no wonder that even the mainstream media is starting to take in account just how vital a credible institution such as HTIM is in greater Memphis.

“As part of our projected growth to serve more potential students with our training services, HTIM applied and completed the initial process for accreditation with the Council on Occupational Education,” Ronald Washington said.

LOOKING AHEAD --- “HTIM’s expectation for growth is to add two additional locations in Memphis and spread to the Nashville area with additional schools before doing the same in the eastern parts of Tennessee,” Washington said. “Our goal is to have 5,000 students by the 2022 in the state of Tennessee.”

LOOKING AHEAD“HTIM’s expectation for growth is to add two additional locations in Memphis and spread to the Nashville area with additional schools before doing the same in the eastern parts of Tennessee,” Washington said. “Our goal is to have 5,000 students by the 2022 in the state of Tennessee.”

According to Washington, Council on Occupational Education — or COE — is a leading accreditor of institutions seeking eligibility for federal Department of Education Title IV participation, or Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, etc.  Moreover, COE has scheduled the “full” Accreditation Visit for April 17, 2017 and, as Washington acknowledged, such a sequence will greatly advance the number of students, particularly as it relates to enrolling and training at his institution.

Not only that, because of its well-experienced staff that includes Jennyfer Washington, HTIM’s Director of Admissions, as well as stellar advisory board, chances are the State of Tennessee in all likelihood will start to become more enlightened about this flourishing institution.

Much sooner than later.

“HTIM’s expectation for growth is to add two additional locations in Memphis and spread to the Nashville area with additional schools before doing the same in the eastern parts of Tennessee,” Washington said.  “Our goal is to have 5,000 students by the 2022 in the state of Tennessee.”

All of whom will be expected to live up to and fortify the longstanding, flagship mission:

“Learn It! Know It! Apply It!”

 

HEALTH-TECH INSTITUTE OF MEMPHIS’ ADMINISTRATION & FACULTY

Melanie K. Washington, President

Melanie Washington is the owner & President of HTIM. She is a retired Memphis City Schools teacher of 20 years who has devoted her life to education.

Melanie has a Bachelor of Science in Education from Lemoyne-Owen College & a Masters of Education from Cumberland University.

Ronald K. Washington, Dean of Business Affairs

Ron serves as the Dean of Business Affairs. Before joining HTIM, he was a Program Specialist with the Private Industry Council specializing in designing employment and training programs for dislocated workers.  Ron holds several certifications in business and allied health services which gives him insight on how to design each training program curriculum offered by HTIM. 

Veronyca Washington, Vice President of Academic Affairs

Veronyca joined HTIM in 2008 as an Executive Administrative Assistant to the President & was promoted to Vice President of Academic Affairs in 2011.

Veronyca has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Fisk University & a Master of Science in Public Health from Meharry Medical College.

Jennyfer Washington, Director of Admissions & Financial Aid

Jennyfer serves as Director of Admissions & Financial Aid & has been with HTIM for 7 years. In her role, she is responsible for student admission & retention.

Jennyfer has a Bachelor of Science in Sociology/Education/Health from Middle Tennessee State University.

Michelle Cotton, Health Information Management Professor

Rachel Lester, Medical Assistant Clinical Professor

Melissa Garrett, Pharmacy Technician Professor

 

OUR ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Institutional Advisory Board Members

Patricia Sonyika, MD, Board Anesthesiologist Chair

Mariah H. Mardis, MD, Associate Director; OccuMed; Vice-Chair

Program Committee Board Members

Betty Rodgers, RN, Chief Operating Officer, Pulse First 1      

Carlotta Hill, BS, Medical Support Administrator, Union Avenue  Dental   

Jacqueline Williams, CCAT, CPAT, Billing & Collections Specialist, Methodist Healthcare Systems

Michelle Cotton, CCA, Lead Inpatient Coder, Parkwood Behavioral Systems  

Doris Brown, CCAT, Reimbursement Specialist, The West Clinic      

Victor Anderson, MBA, Chief Fiscal Officer, Memphis Overton Park Zoo

 

For more information about the Health-Tech Institute of Memphis, call 901-529-9007.  

                                                                                                  



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nEDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, athlete, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

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

Memphian Shallisa Alexander to her mother Ruby Wilson: ‘Mama, go home.’

REMEMBERING RUBY --- Having spent several days in a coma, Memphis blues singing icon Ruby Wilson died at 1:10 p.m. Friday, nearly 24 hours after she had been taken off a respirator. She was 68.

REMEMBERING RUBYHaving spent several days in a coma, Memphis blues singing icon Ruby Wilson died at 1:10 p.m. Friday, nearly 24 hours after she had been taken off a respirator. She was 68.

DALLAS — In what was their final exchange Friday afternoon, Shallisa Alexander assured her mother, renowned blues singer Ruby Wilson, that she’d be okay.

“I’m okay for the most part,” Alexander said during a telephone interview from Memphis. “I’m okay.”

Having described the past few days as “stressful and overwhelming,” Alexander, along with her three siblings, were left to reflect on their mother’s well-publicized legacy moments after Wilson had died at Methodist South Hospital.

She was 68.

Having spent several days in a coma, Wilson expired at 1:10 p.m. Friday, nearly 24 hours after she had been taken off a respirator.

“She had been off the respirator since 1:30 p.m. Thursday,” Alexander said. “She almost made it to 1:30 today.”

BEALE STREET LEGEND --- Born on February 29, 1948 in nearby Fort Worth, Texas, Wilson relocated to Memphis and started her professional singing career when she was 16 old and would later become widely known as the “Queen of Beale Street,” arguably one of Memphis’ major tourist attractions.

BEALE STREET LEGENDBorn on February 29, 1948 in nearby Fort Worth, Texas, Wilson relocated to Memphis and started her professional singing career when she was 16 old and would later become widely known as the “Queen of Beale Street,” arguably one of Memphis’ major tourist attractions.

Still, Alexander, who seemed in high spirits approximately two hours after Wilson’s passing, admittedly was happy of the way her mother had gone about taking her last breath.

“She went out Ruby style,” Alexander said. “She went out in her own way, in her own timing. Her hands were not forced. She left here in her leap year.”

Born on February 29, 1948 in nearby Fort Worth, Texas, Wilson relocated to Memphis and started her professional singing career when she was 16. She would later become widely known as the “Queen of Beale Street,” arguably one of Memphis’ major tourist attractions.

For years, Wilson, who was the goddaughter to late fellow musician B. B. King, had been one of the house staples at B.B. King’s Blues Club in downtown Memphis.

To her credit, her celebrity was heightened, in large part because of her global impact to the music world.

“When I look back on her legacy, it’s one that can’t be copied,” Alexander said. “She’s been all over the world. She’s been to Europe, Beijing, New Zealand, Germany, and she’s been on countless cruises. And I’ve never been on a cruise.”

Wilson’s final public appearance was on August 3 at B. B. King’s.

MOUNT RUSHMORE OF BEALE --- For years, Wilson, who was the goddaughter to late fellow musician B. B. King (center), had been one of the house staples at B.B. King’s Blues Club in downtown Memphis. Generally, her celebrity was heightened, in large part because of her global impact to the music world.

MOUNT RUSHMORE OF BEALEFor years, Wilson, who was the goddaughter to late fellow musician B. B. King (center), had been one of the house staples at B.B. King’s Blues Club in downtown Memphis. Generally, her celebrity was heightened, in large part because of her global impact to the music world.

Arguably one of the most decorated blues singers ever to perform in the heart of downtown Memphis, Wilson had a global impact in the entertainment industry, considering she had recorded more than ten albums and performed with other artists, most notably Isaac Hayes and Ray Charles, among others.

In addition, she assumed roles in several movies, including The Chamber, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Cookie’s Fortune, and Black Snake Moan, and her music was included in several of their soundtracks.

Consequently, Wilson was also one of the blues musicians included in the documentary film Delta Rising, alongside other recording artists such as Willie Nelson, Chris Cotton, and Morgan Freeman.

LASTING MEMORIES --- “She went out Ruby style,” Shallisa Alexander said of her mother's passing on Friday. “She went out in her own way, in her own timing. Her hands were not forced. She left here in her leap year.”

LASTING MEMORIES“She went out Ruby style,” Shallisa Alexander said of her mother’s passing on Friday. “She went out in her own way, in her own timing. Her hands were not forced. She left here in her leap year.”

She performed at the White House, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and many other prominent venues around the world.

Also, she was the beneficiary of an array of accolades, most notably having been honored with the Memphis Sound Award For Best Entertainer, the Authentic Beale Street Musician Award, and a Supporter’s Award from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

A longtime member of the Memphis-Shelby County Film And Tape Commission, Wilson was inducted into the African American Hall of Fame.

Moments before her passing, Alexander sensed the time had come to bid her mother one last goodbye.

“Before the (doctors) called it, he checked her vitals first,” Alexander said. “So when he left out the room, I said, ‘Mama, go home.’ I told her to stop stressing and let it go. And she let it go, and I told her to kiss my big mama and my paw paw, which were her mother and father.”

Funeral arrangements for Wilson are incomplete.



12308302_1264615573553243_4556209296677596210_nAndre Johnson is the publisher and senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter for The Memphis Commercial Appeal, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Playing Hurt Podcast: Let’s Fix the Memphis Grizzlies

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Playing Hurt Podcast: Top Memphis Grizzlies Moments From 2014-2015 Season

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Playing Hurt Podcast: Memphis Grizzlies Grades at the All-Star Break

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Randolph on Conley for All-Star appearance: ‘I want the young fella to get in there’

DALLAS — No one, it seems, is more impressed with Mike Conley’s body of work this season than Zach Randolph.

The Memphis Grizzlies power forward, in fact, has been complimentary of Conley’s display since the early stages of the season.

Tuesday night was no exception.

BOLD PREDICTION --- Following the shorthanded Grizzlies’ decisive 109-90 win against the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night in American Airlines Center, Grizzlies star Zach Randolph hinted that he anticipates point guard Mike Conley to be named to the All-Star team, a milestone he’s been seeking for some time. (LM Otero, Getty Images)

BOLD PREDICTION — Following the shorthanded Grizzlies’ decisive 109-90 win against the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night in American Airlines Center, Grizzlies star Zach Randolph hinted that he anticipates
point guard Mike Conley to be named to the All-Star team, a milestone he’s been seeking for some time. (LM Otero, Getty Images)

Following the shorthanded Grizzlies’ decisive 109-90 win against the Dallas Mavericks in American Airlines Center in which the team was without Conley, Randolph hinted that he anticipates the Grizzlies’ starting point guard to achieve a milestone he’s been seeking for some time.

“It’s big when you can play like that without your All-Star point guard,” Randolph told reporters after posting a game-high 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting and 10 rebounds against Dallas.

While Randolph doesn’t shy away from the notion that he would like to see Conley, his teammate of six years, earn his first All-Star appearance of his career, the seven-year veteran won’t know for certain until Thursday when the East and West reserves are announced.

Just as it has been in recent years, making the All-Star team undoubtedly will be monumental for Conley, in large part because the Western Conference is loaded with a slew of All-Star-caliber point guards such as Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook, among others — all of whom have played in the NBA’s annual midseason showcase.

The 64th annual All-Star Game is February 15 in Madison Square Garden.

While many media pundits believed Conley should have been named to the All-Star team last year, the 27-year-old Fayetteville, Arkansas native certainly has made a strong case to earn a spot for the West this season.

At 33-12, the Grizzlies currently own the NBA’s third-best record and are second in the Western Conference standings behind Golden State. Add to the fact that Conley, Memphis’ second-leading scorer, has been as assertive on both ends of the floor as he’s ever been since he entered the NBA ranks, and it’s no wonder many believe this year could very well be his to crash the All-Star party along with fellow Grizzlies teammate Marc Gasol.

A 7-foot-1 Spaniard, Gasol will be making his second All-Star appearance and his first as a starter.

“You know, it’ll be nice if it happens,” said Randolph, when asked if making his third All-Star appearance was one of his personal goals in this, his 13th season. “I said the other day in Memphis I prefer it be Mike Conley. He deserves it. You know, I’ve been there before. So it’ll be nice if someone else from our team makes it and hopefully it’s him.”

CASE CLOSED? While many media pundits believed Conley should have been named to the All-Star team last year, the 27-year-old Fayetteville, Arkansas native certainly has made a strong case to earn spot for the West this season.

CASE CLOSED? While many media pundits believed Conley should have been named to the All-Star team last year, the 27-year-old Fayetteville, Arkansas native certainly has made a strong case to earn spot for the West this season.

According to a four-panel of CBSSports.com writers who cover the NBA, neither listed Conley as an All-Star reserve in a story that was released Wednesday afternoon. During a preseason interview with MemphiSport, however, Conley reiterated that making his first All-Star appearance was something about which he would strive for this year and that being left off the roster “would suck.”

“Obviously, I want to make my first All-Star appearance,” Conley said.

However, whether the former Ohio State star will be shown some love Valentine’s Day weekend in the Big Apple as a member of the West roster remains a mystery.

At least until sometime Thursday.

“It’ll be nice,” Randolph said of Conley being christen an All-Star reserve. “It’s a lot of politics in the All-Star Game. But I’m not going to lose any sleep (if I don’t make it). Like I said, I want the young fella to get in there.”

Still, regardless of how things stack up when the All-Star reserves are announced, Randolph said nothing overshadows the bigger aspirations for a team that figures to be a legitimate threat to make its first NBA Finals appearances this year.

“Right now, we’re focusing on winning and that’s our big picture right now…especially mine,” Randolph said. “We’re playing good. Our team is playing good. Our bench is playing good. So that’s our main focus right now.”

Something even the team’s starting point guard would agree with as the season progresses.

All-Star appearance or not.

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

 

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Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley: ‘Obviously, I want to make my first All-Star appearance’

EDITOR’S NOTE: When Mike Conley, Jr. entered the NBA ranks in 2007, he was widely viewed as an unproven rookie and the son of Olympic gold and silver medalist triple jumper Mike Conley, Sr. Now in his seventh professional season for the Memphis Grizzlies, Conley, the longest-tenured player on the roster, has emerged as arguably the most underappreciated point guard in the NBA. No doubt, the 27-year-old Conley is the catalyst of a Grizzlies team that boasts the league’s best record and is a legitimate contender to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals this year. During a recent exclusive interview with MemphiSport NBA Southwest Division reporter Andre Johnson, Conley spoke about the lofty expectations for this year’s team as well as assessed what has been a stellar career for the native of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Here are 11 questions for No. 11.

BOLD CONFESSION --- Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley doesn't shy away from the notion that he's aiming to make his first All-Star appearance in this, his seventh NBA season. Conley is Memphis' second-leading scorer, averaging 16.6 points per game. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE Getty Images

BOLD CONFESSION — Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley doesn’t shy away from the notion that he’s aiming to make his first All-Star appearance in this, his seventh NBA season. Conley is Memphis’ second-leading scorer, averaging 16.6 points per game. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE Getty Images

ANDRE: A lot has been said about the organization drafting Memphian Jarnell Stokes back in June. What’s so special about his presence on the team?
MIKE: Jarnell’s done a great job for us since Day 1. He has brought energy to our team. You know, he’s a hard-nosed worker and he wants to get better. He has two great big men to learn from in Marc (Gasol) and Zach (Randolph) and even Kosta (Koufos) and Jon (Leuer). You know, those guys have a wealth of experience and can help Jarnell. I think he’s done a great job with the minutes he’s been given. He really hasn’t been able to show much out there as he wants to. But for the most part, in his short time, he’s done a great job, knowing the plays, where to be on the floor, being in the right spots and capitalizing off that.

ANDRE: Zach Randolph decided in the offseason to return to the organization. There were many speculations as to whether he might move on, but he’s back in a Grizzlies uniform. In your estimation, how special is it having Zach back?
MIKE: It is huge. He’s the head of this ship, man. He always will be. He’s made this team what it is today. So without him, we wouldn’t be here. With him, we’re like family, so it’s awesome to have him back.

ANDRE: Did the Grizzlies get better in the offseason?
MIKE: I thought we did get better in the offseason. And not only because of (the acquisition) Vince Carter and the rookies, but a lot of guys have added a little bit more to their game. So we’re looking forward to a lot of guys stepping up and taking on different roles. They’ll have more on their plate, so hopefully that’ll improve our team and give us a chance to make a deep run.

ANDRE: Much had been said about your constant progress last year, particularly before the All-Star break. In fact, there were a lot of national media prognosticators who sensed you should have gotten serious consideration to represent the West in the All-Star Game. But because the West is so deep at that position with the Chris Pauls and Damian Lillards of the world, you weren’t selected. Do you feel at this stage in your career you’re getting the respect you deserve?
MIKE: Um…slowly. You know, it’s a journey, man. It’s been a journey for me just trying to get better every year and getting attention by adding more to my game and proving that I can play. So I think people are starting to understand my style of play and I just want to keep getting better and not worry about whether people will respect me or not. I just want to go out there and play the best basketball I can.

HUGE IMPACT --- A majority of Conley's seven NBA seasons has been spent under the direction Lionel Hollins. Hollins coached the Grizzlies from 2009-2013 before being hired as the Brooklyn Nets' coach in July.

HUGE IMPACT — A majority of Conley’s seven NBA seasons have been spent under the direction Lionel Hollins. Hollins coached the Grizzlies from 2009-2013 before being hired as the Brooklyn Nets’ coach in July.

ANDRE: Obviously, this team would like to finish in the top three or top four in the Western Conference standings heading into the postseason. But what are your personal expectations in this, your seventh NBA season?
MIKE: I want to be a better leader. I want to be a better leader for this team, want to be someone everybody can count on. Obviously, I want to make my first All-Star appearance. You know, everyone wants to be an All-Star. But I’m beyond that. I just want to win. If we win, I think we’ll get the attention we deserve.

ANDRE: Now, of course, (Grizzlies head coach Dave) Joerger is back after much reshuffling in the front office in the offseason. Describe your relationship with your coach.
MIKE: It was good that Dave came back because we didn’t need a new rotation of coaches coming in. We need that stability. He’s been here pretty much my entire career and just to have him here as the head coach two years in a row will be great. After his first season, he’s going to be much better.

ANDRE: Speaking of head coaches, Lionel (former Grizzlies coach Hollins) has resurfaced in the head-coaching ranks in the league. Of course, a lot of people felt he should have landed a head coaching job last year. Lionel was very, very big on you, particularly when people said negative things about your style of play. How happy were you when he resurfaced in the NBA?
MIKE: I was very happy for him. I texted him, called him and congratulated him. It was well-deserved, man. He’s a great coach. I know they (Brooklyn Nets) got a good one and he’s looking forward to that opportunity and he’s going to make the best of it.

ANDRE: In terms of NBA point guards, you’ve made a name for yourself. Clearly, your stock has risen and people are now starting to respect your overall body of work. But who are among of the NBA point guards Mike Conley likes to watch?
MIKE: Who Mike Conley likes to watch? Well, I like to watch the ones on all 32 teams.

ANDRE: Of course, I can’t let you off the hook that easily, Mike. Tell me. Who do you like to watch the most?
MIKE: Well, every team has a great point guard. You have athletic points like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. You have some smaller points…Isaiah Thomas is a good one and plays well. Eric Bledsoe is another good one. So you have a lot of good ones. But I can tell you it’s tough to play against them. It’s not too much to watch them. But I have to deal with them on the court.

ANDRE: Is there any player on the team you hang out with on a regular basis?
MIKE: I pretty much hang out with all of them. We try to do as much together as we can. But Marc is probably the closet one I’m with.

ANDRE: Do you expect to be more vocal this year as the Grizzlies’ floor general?
MIKE: I do. I figured I’ve earned the respect to do that, just coming out and being assertive and more vocal because they believe in me running the show.

ANDRE: Here’s a bonus question, Mike. Of course, you’re an Ohio State man after having played two seasons for the Buckeyes. This is seemingly a down year for Michigan football. But I’ve got to ask you this as these schools prepare to meet in a few weeks. Ohio State or Michigan?
MIKE: Ohio State, man.

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.