Rosa Fort lineman Kylon McMullen’s stock rising as he aims to impress scouts

Kylon3TUNICA, Mississippi — Fortunately for Kylon McMullen, he’s still got time.

He’s still got time to tone up on his 6-foot-2, 280-pound frame.

He’s still got time to enhance his speed in the 40-yard sprint.

He’s still got time to upgrade his mechanics on both sides of the ball.

Most importantly, he’s still got time to improve his recruiting stock as he readies for what he hopes will be a memorable senior campaign next year.

As it stands, McMullen, a junior offensive guard for Rosa Fort High, has yet to generate any scholarship offers from four-year colleges, although many whom have followed his football prowess believe that will likely change in the coming months.

For starters, Rosa Fort coach Edwin Norwood and his staff are working intensely to help increase McMullen’s stock, mostly doing the necessary things to expose their standout lineman in various camps this spring and well into the summer.

STOCK RISING? Rosa Fort football coach Edwin Norwood and his staff are working intensely to help increase Kylon McMullen’s stock, mostly doing the necessary things to expose their standout lineman in various camps this spring and well into the summer. By then, McMullen and the Lions coaching staff are confident things will begin to work out in McMullen’s favor

STOCK RISING? Rosa Fort football coach Edwin Norwood and his staff are working intensely to help increase Kylon McMullen’s stock, mostly doing the necessary things to expose their standout lineman in various camps this spring and well into the summer.
By then, McMullen and the Lions coaching staff are confident things will begin to work out in McMullen’s favor.

By then, McMullen and the Lions coaching staff are confident things will begin to work out in McMullen’s favor, in large part because, well, he’s still got time.

“No college offers right now, but hopefully that will change by next season,” McMullen told sports journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “My coaches are working on the camps I will attend this spring.”

As he implements the essential strategies he believes will draw rave reviews from college scouts and recruiters, McCullen has a forthright message to those are contemplating sending his letters of interest to his mailing address in the foreseeable future.

“I would like for them to know that I am a great listener, a hard worker on and off the field, and a good team player,” McMullen said. “I have been working out every day…Monday through Friday to get ready for next season.”

In the process of working intensely on his mechanics, most notably his weaknesses, McMullen fortunately has taken on a solid supporting cast besides the Rosa Fort coaching staff.

His uncle, Darrelle Steele, has proven to be one of his grandest supporters ever since McMullen began playing competitive football.

As far as Steele is concerned, that his nephew has yet to acquire any official offers is indicative of how much his talents have been overlooked in recent years.

STAR WATCH --- McMullen (No. 54) is ranked as the 60th overall recruit in Mississippi by MaxPreps for the Class of 2017.

STAR WATCHMcMullen (No. 54) is ranked as the 60th overall recruit in Mississippi by MaxPreps for the Class of 2017.

Whichever college lands McMullen, Steele said, it will be inheriting a player whose reputation is such that he possesses a wealth of resiliency on the gridiron, let alone a player who harbors a winning attitude.

WATCH KYLON IN ACTION: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1034561083295311&id=100002242879696

“When he was in sixth grade he was bigger than the other kids,” Steele said of McMullen, who is ranked as the 60th overall recruit in Mississippi by MaxPreps for the Class of 2017. “I told him he should go out for football. So he started playing in seventh grade.”

As he tells it, Steele has been blow away by his nephew’s talents ever since.

“My immediate reaction was, ‘Man, if he keeps putting in work he could be the first in the family to go to college and play sports,’” Steele said. “What normally goes through my head (on game day) in the stands is, ‘Man, he’s going to be a beast.’”

All of which is why many who have followed his rise to a prep football standout believe McMullen’s best day are well ahead of him.

“They will be inheriting a great learner and a hard worker,” said McMullen, reiterating what kind of player colleges will ultimately acquire. “I want to be the first person in my family to play college football.”
More than anything, he’s still got time to improve his recruiting stock as he readies for what he hopes will be a memorable senior campaign next year.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

There’s no other way to put it.

Sonia Robinson was downright worried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So much for mom’s constant worrying.

There’s no other way to put it.

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

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

 

Memphis Manassas’ Joslynn Basemore: ‘I am the best player in the Shelby-Metro area’

BaseMainJoslynn Basemore on Thursday was asked if she’s getting the respect she deserves as a Memphis-area high school basketball player.

She didn’t hold back.

“The respect I’m getting, I deserve it,” Basemore, a rising senior standout for Manassas High, told sports journalist Andre Johnson. “I will say I am respected, but can be taken for granted or overlooked because of where I attend school.”

Shortly, thereafter, Basemore wasted little time being forthright about where she ranks amongst Shelby-Metro’s finest prep girls basketball players.

“I truly believe I am the best player in the Shelby-Metro area,” Basemore said with a straight face. “My outlook on my final prep season is that it will be a success, because I will work even harder to make sure that my team and I am not overlooked because of our location. This season is the beginning of my new life.”

STOCK RISING --- According to many who have followed Basemore’s rise as arguably one of the best basketball players in the history of Manassas High, she has every right to embark upon the 2015-16 season harboring some newfound swagger.  For starters, Basemore has yet to field official scholarship offers from any colleges, although she has garnered letters of interest from a few Division 1 mid-major schools, most notably Georgia State and Austin Peay State. (Photos submitted by D. Peterson)

STOCK RISING — According to many who have followed Basemore’s rise as arguably one of the best basketball players in the history of Manassas High, she has every right to embark upon the 2015-16 season harboring some newfound swagger.
For starters, Basemore has yet to field official scholarship offers from any colleges, although she has garnered letters of interest from a few Division 1 mid-major schools, most notably Georgia State and Austin Peay State. (Photos submitted by D. Peterson)

TRUE TALENT --- Basemore also was the Lady Tigers’ top scorer as a sophomore, averaging 20.4 points, including eight 20-plus point games in 25 starts.  “She started playing basketball when she was in the second grade,” said Basemore’s mother, Michelle Basemore. “I thought about basketball being a way for her to go to college paid for in conjunction to her getting a scholarship based on her GPA, which has always been a 4.0 or higher. Basketball, to me, was the way out, especially with me being a single mother and doing it all on my own.”

TRUE TALENT — Basemore also was the Lady Tigers’ top scorer as a sophomore, averaging 20.4 points, including eight 20-plus point games in 25 starts.
“She started playing basketball when she was in the second grade,” said Basemore’s mother, Michelle Basemore. “I thought about basketball being a way for her to go to college paid for in conjunction to her getting a scholarship based on her GPA, which has always been a 4.0 or higher. Basketball, to me, was the way out, especially with me being a single mother and doing it all on my own.”

Some pretty dauntless words from a player who, although her school is based in the inner city — in the heart of North Memphis to be exact — appears destined to head into this, her final prep season, with a chip on her shoulder.

According to many who have followed Basemore’s rise as arguably one of the best basketball players in the history of Manassas High, she has every right to embark upon the 2015-16 season harboring some newfound swagger.

For starters, Basemore has yet to field official scholarship offers from any colleges, although she has garnered letters of interest from a few Division 1 mid-major schools, most notably Georgia State and Austin Peay State.

Add to the fact that this speedy, 5-foot-4 standout has built a reputation as one of the most prolific scorers on the local high school hoops circuit in recent years, and it’s no wonder she’s clinging to lofty expectations of picking up where she left off last year.

That, after all, is what appears to be so scary for opposing players who will have the brutal task of squaring off against Basemore in what she deems as a “life-changing” season, of sorts, this year.

“I personally feel as if I don’t have a quitting spirit when things become a little complicated,” explains Basemore, when asked what is it she’d like college scouts and recruiters to know about her. “Most importantly, I am coachable, hard-working, dedicated, and a team player who puts God first. Through Him, Who strengthens me, I can do all things no matter what the task may be.”

Base3Last year, Basemore — though she often faced a size disadvantage against the opposition — was relied upon heavily to score early and often for a Manassas team that finished with a 14-10 mark.

Having averaged a team-best 22.5 points per game, Basemore made a strong case that she has the smarts and skills to play at the collegiate  level, especially in what turned out to be the Lady Tigers’ final game of the season.

In a 90-84 overtime loss to neighborhood rival Trezevant, Basemore caught fire and drew rave reviews from a standing-room-only crowd when she scored a career-high 46 points, a feat that surpassed her 43-point outburst against Craigmont days prior.

In addition, Basemore led the team in other statistical categories as a junior, including assists (4.7), rebounds (5.3), and steals (4.7) — a solid resume for a player who boasts high expectations of putting her immense skills on display in a college uniform sometime next year.

Basemore also was the Lady Tigers’ top scorer as a sophomore, averaging 20.4 points, including eight 20-plus point games in 25 starts.

“She started playing basketball when she was in the second grade,” said Basemore’s mother, Michelle Basemore. “I thought about basketball being a way for her to go to college paid for in conjunction to her getting a scholarship based on her GPA, which has always been a 4.0 or higher. Basketball, to me, was the way out, especially with me being a single mother and doing it all on my own.”

STAR WATCH --- Basemore led the team in other statistical categories as a junior, including assists (4.7), rebounds (5.3), and steals (4.7) --- a solid resume for a player who boasts high expectations of putting her immense skills on display in college uniform sometime next year.

STAR WATCH — Basemore led the team in other statistical categories as a junior, including assists (4.7), rebounds (5.3), and steals (4.7) — a solid resume for a player who boasts high expectations of putting her immense skills on display in college uniform sometime next year.

Besides emerging as Manassas’ featured player, Joslynn Basemore  — who’s also gotten strong support from her father, Daren Peterson — has been a fixture on the AAU circuit in recent years, most notably for the Tennessee Glory. Fortunately for her, she has been afforded to play the games she loves in a number of establishments around the country, including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri, among others.

As she prepares for what figures to be a banner season, Joslynn Basemore said her primary objective is to add to what has shaped up to be solid resume on and off the court.

Especially on the court.

“Basketball is something that I can’t really explain, but what I can say is that I have a sincere passion for the game,” Joslynn Basemore said. Plus, I look at basketball as another way of learning life experiences. My ultimate dream is to pursue a career in basketball, one day playing for the WNBA.”

Some pretty bold words from a player, one who’s finally getting the respect she deserves.

 

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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

 

Illinois softball standout Makayla Denson eyeing Tennessee State, other HBCU’s

Just recently, Makayla Denson was asked to explain her passion and adoration for softball.

DIAMOND DREAMS --- While the softball diamond undoubtedly has proven to be a place of solitude and refuel for Makayla Denson, a rising senior first baseman at Bremen High School in Midlothian, Illinois, this prep athletic standout doesn’t shy away from the notion that she boasts lofty aspirations of extending her playing career beyond high school. (Photos submitted by R. Denson)

DIAMOND DREAMS — While the softball diamond undoubtedly has proven to be a place of solitude and refuel for Makayla Denson, a rising senior first baseman at Bremen High School in Midlothian, Illinois, this prep athletic standout doesn’t shy away from the notion that she boasts lofty aspirations of extending her playing career beyond high school. (Photos submitted by R. Denson)

As usual, speaking of the sport brought her to smiles.

“I would categorize myself as being a multisport student athlete,” Denson said during a recent interview with longtime journalist Andre Johnson. “That means student first, then athletics…basketball and softball. But softball is my passion. At times, it is very difficult to compass. But you have to keep telling yourself, ‘You can do it’ and to ‘Keep pushing forward.’”

While the softball diamond undoubtedly has proven to be a place of solitude and refuel for Denson, a rising senior first baseman at Bremen High School in Midlothian, Illinois, this prep athletic standout doesn’t shy away from the notion that she boasts lofty aspirations of extending her playing career beyond high school.

According to Makayla Denson’s mother, Robin Williams-Denson, her daughter has expressed considerable interest in attending Tennessee State University either on a softball scholarship or taking necessary steps to join to the Lady Tigers’ program as a walk on.

To her credit, Makayla Denson has become a fixture on the Chicago-area prep softball circuit since transitioning to the high school ranks three years ago, a trend about which she hopes college coaches will take into account as she continues to lobby for a full-ride athletic scholarship.

To her credit, Makayla Denson has become a fixture on the Chicago-area prep softball circuit since transitioning to the high school ranks three years ago, a trend about which she hopes college coaches will take into account as she continues to lobby for a full-ride athletic scholarship.

Besides TSU, the 17-year-old Makayla Denson also has expressed interests in Texas Southern University, Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Bethune-Cookman University in Florida, and nearby Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

In addition, this speedy, durable athlete was the catalyst of AAU 16-and-under Chicago-area Lady Monarch travel team that competed in a variety of local and state tournaments last year.

In addition, this speedy, durable athlete was the catalyst of AAU 16-and-under Chicago-area Lady Monarch travel team that competed in a variety of local and state tournaments last year.

Regardless of which school she attends, Makayla Denson said being afforded the opportunity to play collegiate softball would make reality a dream to which she has clung for some time.

“That is my short-term goal, to play softball in college and continue to learn new ideas and make new friends along this journey,” Makayla Denson said.

Having first played competitive softball when she was eight years ago, Makayla Denson admittedly has since grown a deep admiration for the sport, having also been afforded the golden opportunity to travel throughout the region and heartland for AAU and club teams.

“Every year since then, I’ve played on different levels such as in-house recreational local softball teams to AAU 18-and-under travel softball,” Makayla Denson explains.

In addition, this speedy, durable athlete was the catalyst of AAU 16-and-under Chicago-area Lady Monarch travel team that competed in a variety of local and state tournaments last year.

To her credit, Makayla Denson has become a fixture on the Chicago-area prep softball circuit since transitioning to the high school ranks three years ago, a trend about which she hopes college coaches will take into account as she continues to lobby for a full-ride athletic scholarship.

To her credit, Makayla Denson has become a fixture on the Chicago-area prep softball circuit since transitioning to the high school ranks three years ago, a trend about which she hopes college coaches will take into account as she continues to lobby for a full-ride athletic scholarship.

To her credit, Makayla Denson has become a fixture on the Chicago-area prep softball circuit since transitioning to the high school ranks three years ago, a trend about which she hopes college coaches will take into account as she continues to lobby for a full-ride athletic scholarship.

“We decided to let her play a sport, so she chose softball and basketball at the same time,” said Williams-Denson, explaining her daughter’s rise as a softball standout. “But when we put her on an in-house softball team at (the age of) seven, we ended up coaching. She naturally knows what to do and everybody wanted her and said she was a natural (athlete). She plays first base; that’s her love, but she really plays all positions except pitcher. People look at her and think, ‘Oh, she’s not going to do anything.’ And then she blows them away.”

All of which — according to Makayla Denson’s mother — means chances appear highly likely that her daughter will be afforded the chance to suit up in a collegiate softball uniform sometime in the Spring of 2017.

After all, she’s been considered a fixture on the Illinois-area softball diamond for some time.

“We always taught her to do her best and complete what she starts,” Williams-Denson said. “She is a perfectionist in school, sports or whatever else she does. Coaches used to get upset with her dad because he would encourage her to do her. She would get upset if she made errors — which I can’t remember many — because she wanted to make a name for herself.”

So far, so good.

Chances are, the competitive softball circuit hasn’t seen the last of this dual-sport athlete.

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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 [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.