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Long before his personal encounter with Shaq, young Mekhi Welch has become a gifted sports buff

MEKHI’S MAD SKILLZ

HE’S THE TRUTH — For the child who’s widely known as “Mekhi,” a rather distinctly unique thing occurred some three years or so ago, according to his mother, Tawanna Chamberlain. “Mekhi has been a sports buff since the age of three,” Chamberlain told Making Headline News this week. “But when he started to read around five years old, he asked me to read books to him about the history of basketball and great players.”

DALLAS — Mekhi Welch is just eight years old, meaning for a kid his age, one would think he’s essentially in the beginner’s stage with regards to his knowledge about sports.

For the child who’s widely known as “Mekhi,” a rather distinctly unique thing occurred some three years or so ago, according to his mother, Tawanna Chamberlain.
“Mekhi has been a sports buff since the age of three,” Chamberlain, a Clearwater, Florida resident, told Making Headline News this week. “But when he started to read around five years old, he asked me to read books to him about the history of basketball and great players.”
And just like that, a rising young sports historian, of sorts, was born, considering Mekhi’s sports knowledge is such that he could perhaps teach these old vets a thing of two about arguably some of the celebrated athletes of our generation.
Thanks in large part to his mother routinely reading his autobiographies of Lewis Alcindor, Jr, (famously known today as Kareem Abdul-Jabar), Kobe Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality,” “When The Game Was Ours,” featuring Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Phil Jackson’s “Eleven Rings” Sam Smith’s “The Jordan Rules,” Mitch Albom’s “Fab Five,” Dick Devenzo’s “Stuff Good Players Should Know,” LeBron James’ “The Boy Who Became King,” Stephen Curry’s “The Boy Who Never Gave Up,” “Michael Jordan: The Life,” and “Little Shaq” by Shaquille O’neal,” among others, and it’s no wonder little Mekhi boasts lofty aspirations of someday emerging as household name in what has become a multi-million dollar sport industry, particularly for some the world’s most prominent sports journalists.

LOOK! IT’S DA BIG DIESEL!

GOTTA LOOK AT THIS THIS — “Then it happened,” Chamberlain said. “Three days later, I received a personal video message from Shaq to Mekhi and I almost lost it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a surreal moment in time. I couldn’t wait to show Mekhi that his hero, Shaq, had sent him a personal message. When Mekhi saw the message from Shaq, he was overjoyed. He was smiling from ear-to-ear and he talked about the video message all the way to school that morning.”

“We absolutely love to read in our home,” Chamberlain said son’s newfound gift as a sports enthusiast. “In fact, it’s our favorite pastime. We literally own more books than we can count, and when Mekhi would become disinterested with me reading countless of books to him, he would pick up his iPad and Google interesting basketball stats and facts.”

To his credit, the more he deems it essential to become knowledge about sports opposite those up-to-date scores that customarily scroll across SportCenter’s Bottom Line, the more it seems that Mekhi essentially broadens his journalistic mechanics that figure to set him apart mightily from his peers much more sooner than later.

Never mind that he’s only eight years of age.

“Over the last five years, he has become a real life NBA basketball Wikipedia,” said Chamberlain, trying the best she could to assess her young and gifted son’s amazing gift that centered on big time sports. “You can ask him any question you want to about players from Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, Kobe, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Tracy McGrady, Charles Barkley, Step Curry, Kevin Durant, Kwahi Leonard, Clay Thompson, Ben Simmons to Zion Williamson.”

Once someone picks Mekhi’s brain about any major professional athlete — past or present — they might as well brace themselves for what essentially will be said next.

“Amazingly, he can recall their height, what cities they were born in, all the teams that each player played on, what year they were recruited and drafted to the NBA, who their rivals were, their current stats, their highest scoring games in a season, the years they were injured, and how the injury impacted their careers,” Chamberlain said. “You should hear him tell the story about Yao Ming.”

And then there is Mekhi’s personal encounter with O’Neal, five-time NBA champion and former LSU All-American.

According to Chamberlain, her son and Shaq established friendship during which an awe-inspiring encounter took place, a development that resulted in her son being the beneficiary.


“Mekhi has always loved Shaq,” Chamberlain said. Since he was five years old, he would tell me that his dream was to play a game of one-on-one with Shaq. To Mekhi, Shaquille O’Neal is larger-than-life. The other day I was in the living room watching something on TV and a commercial for a national pizza chain came on. Just as the commercial came on, Mekhi walked out of his room and was mesmerized by the fact that Shaq was going all around the town delivering pizzas to people.”


Much to his delight, the young sports buff had become even more attentive to the commercial ad featuring his hero.

“Over the last five years, he has become a real life NBA basketball Wikipedia,” said Chamberlain, trying the best she could to assess her young and gifted son’s amazing gift that centered on big time sports. “You can ask him any question you want to about players from Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, Kobe, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Tracy McGrady, Charles Barkley, Step Curry, Kevin Durant, Kwahi Leonard, Clay Thompson, Ben Simmons to Zion Williamson.”

“Mekhi could not believe his eyes…he thought that was the coolest thing ever,” Chamberlain recalled. “Right after the commercial went off, Mekhi asked me to call or text Shaq and ask him to bring him a (Papa John’s) pepperoni pizza. I just looked at him with a blank stare—I honestly didn’t know what to say to him regarding his request, because I was thinking to myself, “Yeah right. I don’t know Shaq’s telephone number—so I can’t call or text him and ask him to bring a pizza over here.

“Mekhi wholeheartedly believed that I would know how to contact Shaq and he was very persistent, so he went as far as to go pick up my cell phone and he handed it to me and said, ‘Here mom, please go ahead and call or text Shaq.’”

Interestingly, things would eventually become even more interesting for Mehki.

“Mekhi wholeheartedly believed that I would know how to contact Shaq and he was very persistent, so he went as far as to go pick up my cell phone and he handed it to me and said, ‘Here mom, please go ahead and call or text Shaq.’”

“Not wanting to let my child down, I grabbed my phone and sent a ‘Hail Mary’ DM to Shaq on Instagram, because my son was standing right there watching me type the message,” Chamberlain said. “No pressure…and I hit, ‘send,’ never thinking that Shaq would actually see the message or read it.”

Boy, was she wrong — wrong for all the right reasons to put it more precisely.

“A few days passed, but everyday Mekhi would ask me, ‘Did Shaq text you back yet?’” Chamberlain said. “While looking for his pizza, he truly believed his favorite player wouldn’t let him down. So I would just remind Mekhi that Shaq is a very busy man, but told him that perhaps when he isn’t so busy, he would make time to respond to my message.”

Once someone picks Mekhi’s brain about any major professional athlete — past or present — they might as well brace themselves for what essentially will be said next.

Suddenly, the long-awaited and figurative slam dunk for which Mekhi had waited was finally executed.

“Then it happened,” Chamberlain said. “Three days later, I received a personal video message from Shaq to Mekhi and I almost lost it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a surreal moment in time. I couldn’t wait to show Mekhi that his hero, Shaq, had sent him a personal message. When Mekhi saw the message from Shaq, he was overjoyed. He was smiling from ear-to-ear and he talked about the video message all the way to school that morning.

“That same day, I was contacted by the National Pizza Chain via Twitter and they made it possible for Mekhi’s entire class to enjoy a pizza party, which made everyone’s day,” Chamberlain continued. “This is the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Much like the wealth of knowledge Chamberlain’s son has garnered as such a young age.

Stay tuned. This kid seems well on his way to making major moves in the sports world, something that, well, perhaps even Shaq has sensed.


REMEMBER THE NAME 

STAR WATCH — To his credit, the more he deems it essential to become knowledge about sports opposite up-to-date scores that customarily scroll across SportCenter’s Bottom Line, the more it seems that Mekhi essentially broadens his journalistic mechanics that figure to set him apart mightily from his peers much more sooner than later.

“It was so very thoughtful of Shaquille O’Neal to take a few moments out of his busy schedule to send Mekhi a message,” Chamberlain said. “It meant the world to him and it is something that he will never forget.”

With all of the sports knowledge he’s acquired in recent years, how could he?


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EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, athlete, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, 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 the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to makingheadlinenews@gmail.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Baltimore area entrepreneur/investor Manny Gathers aiming to have a global impact through his professional track and field league

Just after 11 p.m. EST on Sunday, Manny Gathers staged to his Facebook timeline some pretty compelling information regarding professional sports entertainment rankings.

Surprisingly, track and field was amongst the 19 sports listed on the chart.

With a No. 3 ranking being rated “Excellent” and No. 1 ranking being rated “Poor,” track and field, as it turned out, ranked near the bottom of the pack with three No. 1’s. Nevertheless, there is a silver lining and it is called American League Track & Field.

According to Gathers, ALTF has corrected all of the issues that traditional track and field faces today. “ALTF is supreme and is the solution to elevating this Globally Recognized Sport to its rightful position,” Gathers said. 

All things considered, credit Gathers and his staff for playing some of favorable role to what undoubtedly is an ongoing upward trend, considering track and field figures to remain one of the world’s most popular sports.

An accomplished Baltimore-area entrepreneur and investor, Gathers is the mastermind by behind organizing what he describes as a “uniquely designed” Professional Track And Field League.

Widely regarded as the first of its kind, Gathers said this is the first and only professional sports league that is comprised of men and women teammates, an up-and-coming league in which many of these athletes have a share in ownership and revenue.

“(We’re) the first to have passive, fractional ownership of each team which allows middle-class investors to participate,” Gathers told Making Headline News during a weekend interview.

Interesting enough, this track and field organization is the first to consolidate sponsors’ contracts into a single, short-term agreement model, Gathers said.

“I enjoy being able to meet, work with and served people of various backgrounds the most,” said Gathers, explaining what he admires the most about a uniquely distinct business he hopes will attract more of a global presence in the foreseeable future. “Being able to be a part of a diverse team is a rewarding experience.”

SOLID SUPPORTING CAST — “My personal mission is to successfully bring track and field to life as a professional sport,” said Gathers, who acknowledged that he was inspired to organize the league by Ernest Lindo, whom he deems the Author and Founder of this business model. “By doing that, we will be creating thousands of job opportunities, a new shared ownership model, and more financial good for the communities in which we will operate.”

What’s even more intriguing is that this league strives diligently to attract talented athletes from various levels, most notably former high school and college athletes, or those who have a solid past resume in this internationally-acclaimed sport.

“As far as athletes goes, we will attract and hire graduates from the high school and collegiate levels to participate in the sport,” Gathers said.

A league that is steadily devising ways to generate more exposure, it seems that this organization is starting to become a fixture for those who have a fond interest in track and field.

Spectators included.

“Because of our unique capital raising model and debt mitigation strategies, we will draw families to our events,” said Gathers, adding that ticket prices will typically range in the neighborhood of less than $35 for regular seating — VIP seats are also available, he said — which will make his organization’s events affordable for fans and other groups. “Imagine being able to bring your babies and entire family to a professional sporting event because of affordable ticket prices.”

A native of Eutawville, South Carolina, Gathers served more than 20 years of active duty in the Marine Corps and also boasts experience in mid-level management by way of the ever-so-competitive Corporate America industry.

It is due in large part, he said, to his solid experience as an accomplished businessman that has contributed mightily in his latest venture.

“I have been conditioned to manage complex operations, high-valued budgets, and people management,” said Gathers, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Operations and an MBA Degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland University College. “My life experiences and world travels have allowed me to interact with people from various backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and cultures. Strong interpersonal skills have prepared me for this next chapter of my life.”

Extensive traveling both in the military and his selected profession have greatly aided him as well.

“I have traveled around the world a couple of times and have lived in multiple countries and states within the USA,” Gathers said.

As for his mission for electing to organize an athletic venture of this magnitude, well, his primary objective is simple.

MAKING MAJOR MOVES — An accomplished Baltimore area entrepreneur and investor, Manny Gathers is the mastermind by behind organizing what he describes as a “uniquely designed” Professional Track And Field League. Widely regarded as the first of its kind, Gathers said this is the first and only professional sports league that is comprised of men women teammates, a league in which many of whom of the athletes have a share in ownership and revenue.

“My personal mission is to successfully bring track and field to life as a professional sport,” said Gathers, who acknowledged that he was inspired to organize the league by Ernest Lindo, whom he deems the Author and Founder of this business model. “By doing that, we will be creating thousands of job opportunities, a new shared ownership model, and more financial good for the communities in which we will operate.

As for the notable forthcoming additions and changes with this organization, Gathers said a number of projects are presently in the works as he and his staff continues to upgrade and enhance their brand.

“We have recently begun collaborating with the Black Men United Organization and plan on conducting strategic think-tank events to attract the brightest and ideal Leaders to run the business,” Gathers said. “Our primary goal is to target credible celebrities and business owners that share our belief that we can build a successful business model that will provide family entertainment once again, financial and business education, and wealth creation for generations to come.”

“Track and field is the oldest known sport in the world,” Gathers added. “It is popular in America and internationally. How bad do you want it is the question. When asked, ‘Manny, what is it that you need to make this thing work?’ I simply say, ‘connections’…introduce me to Colin Kaepernick, Usain Bolt, T.I., Olympic Medalists or any respectable Star that can help give birth to this Game-Changing idea.’”

For more information about Manny Gathers and his professional track and field organization, email Manny Gathers at manny@bestmoneystrategies.com. Also, contact Manny via his website www.bestmoneystrategies.com

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, athlete, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, 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 Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to andre@makingheadlinenews.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Plano (Texas) West sprinter Sharoné Johnson reaping benefits of hard work with track and field scholarship to Louisiana Tech

TEXAS SIZE BLESSINGS — While making the switch to different events in such a brief time frame brought about a few challenges for Sharone Johnson, it is her body of work as a sprinter in recent years that has benefited her mightily. That’s because approximately one week before Thanksgiving, the West Plano senior standout was left to count her blessings after she signed a National Letter of Intent to join the track and field program at Louisiana Tech.

DALLAS — All things considered, Sharoné Johnson is a glass-half-full kind of person.

Take, for instance, how last summer during a Junior Olympics track and field meet in Sacramento, California, when Johnson, a Plano (Texas) West High sprinter came away somewhat harboring mixed feelings after having placed place 15th overall out of 58 participants in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:04:14.

“Although disappointed with my ending rank, I am pleased with the overall progress that I made over the course of only a few months,” a seemingly upbeat Johnson told Making Headline News during a recent interview. “Going from school track to summer track, I was told that the move from the 300 (meter hurdles) to the 400 (meter hurdles) would be a difficult adjustment.”

MAKING CONTINUOUS PROGRESS — Having spent a majority of my track career as a fixture in the 200 and 400-meter dash, Johnson ultimately set a personal best and a new school record in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 42.23, a feat she accomplished a short time after having made the switch to that event.
Her initial time in that event was 46.45.

While making the switch to different events in such a brief time frame brought about a few challenges for Johnson, it is her solid body of work as a sprinter in recent years that has benefited her mightily.

That’s because approximately one week before Thanksgiving, the West Plano senior standout was left to count her blessings after she signed a National Letter of Intent to join the track and field program at Louisiana Tech, ending a rather intriguing recruiting process that also included schools such as Wichita State, the University of South Florida, the University of New Orleans, Baylor having shown interest in the Lady Wolves’ featured sprinter.

A native of the historic Oak Cliff district of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the 17-year-old Johnson said she was thoroughly sold on Louisiana Tech, in large part because Lady Bulldogs coach LaMonte Vaughn was determined to convince her to commit before any other school could lure her to its campus.

A native of the historic Oak Cliff district of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the 17-year-old Johnson said she was thoroughly sold on Louisiana Tech, in large part because Lady Bulldogs coach LaMonte Vaughn was determined to convince her to commit before any other school could lure her to its campus.

“I felt that was the best decision for me. I loved that he didn’t discredit any other colleges or put them down,” said Johnson, explaining her decision to sign with Louisiana Tech. “Instead, his main focus was to tell me what he could do for me on and off the track. My ultimate goal was to go to a college that would not only help me develop as an athlete, but as a better person so that I’m prepared for life after college.”

Louisiana Tech coach LaMonte Vaughn

As Johnson acknowledged, it was Vaughn — a former University of Kentucky track and field standout  whose two decades of college coaching experience includes eight years in the Pac-12 Conference with stints at Washington and UCLA — who discovered qualities and mechanics through her immense skills as a gifted sprinter that no other coached had noticed.

“He said, ‘She’s one race away from having the race of her life and I want to get her before anyone else does,’” Johnson said. “That immediately drew me toward his program. I believe with him in my corner, I will do big things in college and after.”

Much like she has done for a majority of her career at Plano West.

JUST DOING IT — Arguably Johnson’s best achievements in this, her final prep season, is having clocked in at 43.69 in the 300-meter hurdle, a mark that gave way to her having secured a No. 2 ranking in Texas in that event.

Having spent a majority of my prep tenure as a fixture in the 200 and 400-meter dash, Johnson ultimately set a personal best and a new school record in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 42.23, a feat she accomplished a short time after having made the switch to that event.

Her previous recorded time in that event was 46.45.

LOUISIANA TECH-NICAL KNOCKOUT — In November, Johnson ended a rather intriguing recruiting process that also included schools such as Wichita State, the University of South Florida, the University of New Orleans, Baylor having shown interest in the Lady Wolves’ featured sprinter.

In addition, she was a member of the Plano West’s 4 x100 and the 4×400 meter relay squads that advanced to the regional competition.

Arguably Johnson’s best achievements in this, her final prep season, is when she registered a time of  43.69 in the 300-meter hurdle, a mark that gave way to her having secured a No. 2 ranking in Texas in that event. Also, she added the 100-meter hurdles to her sprinting repertoire and, although she has officially committed to a college, she destined to her finish Plano West career on a strong, memorable note.

“As I finish out my senior year, I’m going to make it my mission to win state in the 300 (meter) hurdles,” Johnson said. “I want to also make it as far as I can in the 100 (meter) hurdles. I have to take it one race at a time and one hurdle at a time, because every step contributes to a bigger move.”

Well said by a talented, college bound sprinter who appears to be one race away from having the race of her life.

 

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.”

Andre Johnson is the founder and publisher of Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former sportswriter for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, 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.

Duncanville (Texas) High shooting guard Erik Talton is as good as advertised while boosting his recruiting stock

TEXAS HIGH RISEDuncanville shoting guard Erik Talton, a 6-foot-2, 155-pound senior was seen dunking for the first time when he was a sophomore. It was long thereafter that he began to add to his basketball repertoire, having established himself as a player whose strengths consists of shooting mid-to-long range, creating his own shot off the dribble and, most importantly, demonstrating the ability to get his teammates in the flow of the game. (Photos courtesy of Cross Town Images)

DUNCANVILLE, Texas — Without question, Kenneth Talton loves his son.

Surely, he wants the best for him.

So much, in fact, that every now and then, Talton deems it necessary to demonstrate some tough love as a way to steer him in the right direction.

Take, for instance, how some time ago when Talton’s son, Erik Talton, assembled a Facebook page. You know, as expected, he was only doing that about which his peers were engaging in.

MAKING MAJOR MOVES — An honor student who’s ambition in the coming months is to suit up in college basketball uniform, Erik Talton is an electrifying, high-leaping shooting guard for perennial power Duncanville (Texas) High, which checked in at No. 25 in the state in the latest Maxpreps.com poll that was released last week.

Still, his father had other reasonable ideas. By all accounts, he sensed that Facebook could potentially be a recipe for disaster for a kid with dazzling basketball skills.

“When I discovered that Erik had created a Facebook page and that he was using it to communicate with his friends, I immediately made him take it down and began to educate him on social media,” Kenneth Talton told Making Headline News on Monday. “I told him the first thing he did wrong was not getting my permission and that there was a reaction for every action he makes wrong, right or indifferent. I felt that he was too young to engage in social media.”

Consequently, Kenneth Talton’s firm gesture and forthright response to his son having erected a Facebook, as it turned out, has proven beneficial in a variety of ways, most notably on the basketball court.

CHECK OUT ERIK TALTON: http://www.ncsasports.org/mens-basketball-recruiting/texas/duncanville/duncanville-high-school1/erik-talton.

Although his father unceremoniously suspended his Facebook account, Erik Talton, to his created, essentially has been nothing short of impressive. In fact, while playing alongside fellow Duncanville seniors Dexter Johnson, Jr. and Tyler Watkins — the three have been teammates on the same AAU team since fifth grade — Erik Talton, for a lack of better words, have posted favorable statuses not on social media, but on the court as evidenced by the slew of recruiting analysts that have followed him in recent years.

An honor student who’s ambition in the coming months is to suit up in a college basketball uniform, Erik Talton is an electrifying, high-leaping shooting guard for perennial power Duncanville (Texas) High, which checked in at No. 25 in the state in the latest Maxpreps.com poll that was released last week.

Although his father demanded that he unceremoniously suspend his Facebook account, Erik Talton, to his credit, essentially has been nothing short of impressive.

In fact, while playing alongside fellow Duncanville seniors Dexter Johnson, Jr. and Tyler Watkins — the three have been teammates on the same AAU team since fifth grade — Erik Talton, for a lack of better words, have posted favorable statuses not on social media, but on the court, as evidenced by the slew of recruiting analysts who have followed him in recent years.

For starters, the 6-foot-2, 155-pound senior was spotted dunking for the first time when he was a sophomore. It wasn’t long thereafter that he began to add to his basketball repertoire, having established himself as a player whose strengths consists of shooting efficiently from mid-to-long range, creating his own shot off the dribble and, most importantly, demonstrating the ability to get his teammates in the flow of the game.

For his valiant efforts, his solid body of work has drawn the attention of several schools, including Frank Phillips College, Hartnell Junior College in California, Northeastern Junior College in Colorado), The King’s College in New York, Norwich University, Luther College, and Kansas Wesleyan University, he said on Monday.

“I have the qualities that college coaches are looking for in a player,” Erik Talton said. “I come from a family of athletes and educators. I’m not afraid of a challenge or hard work, and I have great passion for the game. I am a high energy player, very athletic, I pride myself on defense as well as offense and I work extremely hard in the classroom and on the basketball court. I challenge myself daily to improve on my skills.”

COLLEGE BOUND FOR SUREFor his valiant efforts, his solid body of work has drawn the attention of several schools, including Frank Phillips College, Hartnell Junior College in California, Northeastern Junior College in Colorado), The King’s College in New York, Norwich University, Luther College, and Kansas Wesleyan University, he said on Monday.

Still, he realizes now is not the time to go on cruise control, in large part because he has yet to field any official offers. How else to explain his remarkable display this past summer when following what was a banner junior campaign, he enjoyed what he described as a “very big summer” on the AAU circuit when he averaged 20 points per game and led his team to consecutive championships in two major tournaments (The Great American Shootout in Duncanville and the Fab48 in Las Vegas)?

In essence, Erik’s Talton’s progress on and off the court emerged amid the wake of adversity, according to his father.

“The adversities Erik had to overcome from losing his cousin which was his best friend at the age of six and, at the age of eight, having multiple surgeries on his forearm and maintaining his drive and his desire to once again play sports at the same level prior to his injury, to the custody issues between his mom and me, which ultimately led to him moving completely with me,” Kenneth Talton said.

“That caused him to transfer his junior year from one school district (Mansfield High), where he was well established as a student athlete and played varsity since his sophomore year to another school district. He understood the impact that such a move could have on his basketball career at the college level.”

All things considered, such an untimely move from nearby Mansfield to Duncanville has in no way, shape or form hamper Erik Talton, who admittedly feels confident about his chances of playing at the collegiate level.

And to think, he didn’t need a Facebook page to express to the masses who he is.

The basketball court was a big enough platform.

“Whatever college offers me scholarship, they will get a player with tenacity, who’s a competitor, an athlete, a hard worker, a defender, a shooter and a winner,” Erik Talton said.

What a favorable difference that tough love has made.

 

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.”

Andre Johnson is the founder and publisher of Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former sportswriter for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duncanville (Texas) High point guard Tyler Watkins making a strong case that he’s worthy of a hoops scholarship

TANTALIZING TYLERA slim, speedy 6-foot-1, 156-pounder, Duncanville High senior point guard Watkins has yet to receive any official offers. However, chances of that changing in the foreseeable future certainly appears likely, considering he’s at least in the discussion amongst the schools that have him under their radar. According to Watkins, Midwestern State, Southern Nazarene, University Of Massachusetts at Lowell, Oklahoma Wesleyan, and Paris Junior College are among the schools that have expressed interest in Watkins, the catalyst of a Duncanville team that is ranked No. 25 in Texas according to Maxpreps.com’s latest poll.

DUNCANVILLE, Texas — Tyler Watkins doesn’t just think he can.

Heck, he’s literally gone from thinking to knowing.

Take, for instance, how late Sunday night, Watkins, a senior point guard for Duncanville (Texas) High, dauntlessly issued a rather bold, spirited declaration when asked what he would like for college scouts and recruiters to know about him, particularly his quest toward garnering an athletic scholarship.

TANTALIZING TYLERA slim, speedy 6-foot-1, 156-pounder, Duncanville High senior point guard Watkins has yet to receive any official offers. However, chances of that changing in the foreseeable future certainly appears likely, considering he’s at least in the discussion amongst the schools that have him under their radar. According to Watkins, Midwestern State, Southern Nazarene, University Of Massachusetts at Lowell, Oklahoma Wesleyan, and Paris Junior College are among the schools that have expressed interest in Watkins, the catalyst of a Duncanville team that is ranked No. 25 in Texas according to Maxpreps.com’s latest poll.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Watkins, reciting the familiar Biblical passage of Philippians 4:13, told Making Headline News.

And just like that, the kid whom, for a majority of his young life, has established a keen reputation that suggest, among other things, that he’s capable of defying the toughest of odds, appears destined to stage the unthinkable.

Once again.

A slim, speedy 6-foot-1, 156-pounder who grew up sleeping with his basketball tucked under his arm, Watkins has yet to receive any official scholarship offers. However, chances of that changing in the foreseeable future certainly appears likely, considering he’s at least in the discussion amongst the schools that have him under their radar.

According to Watkins, Midwestern State, Southern Nazarene, University Of Massachusetts at Lowell, Oklahoma Wesleyan, and Paris Junior College are among the schools that have expressed interest in Watkins, the catalyst of a Duncanville team that is ranked No. 25 in Texas according to Maxpreps.com’s latest poll.

“I’d like colleges to know that I am noticeably  hard-working and a humble ball player,” Watkins said. “I am also highly dedicated to playing basketball and becoming a better player.”

Aside from his mental assertiveness and favorable IQ as the Panthers’ floor general, Watkins acknowledged that amongst his notable strengths is his ability to penetrate and attack the rim, not to mention demonstrating the ability to become the floor facilitator.

TEXAS TOUGH — Aside from his mental assertiveness and favorable IG as the Panthers’ floor general, Watkins acknowledged that his amongst his notable strengths is his ability to penetrate and attack the rim and demonstrating the ability to become the floor facilitators.

Conversely, arguably his most notably weakness, in his estimation, is his inconsistency to shoot from long range, although he possesses an attractive midrange shot and has proven to be an aggressive defender.

“I work on (my mechanics) every single day and I lift weights about three times a week,” Watkins said.

Among those who are especially working diligently to help steer Watkins in the right direction, particularly with regards to upgrading his stock in landing a scholarship, are his parents, Leonard and Wendy Watkins.

Both of whom are Corporate America professionals, Tyler Watkins’ parents have demonstrated unyielding support for a kid who first picked up a basketball at the age of four.

That he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down any time soon, Tyler’s parents, like his teammates and Duncanville’s coaching staff, are hopeful he’s afforded the golden opportunity they sense he deserves — putting his immense skills on display at the collegiate level.

MOM KNOWS BESTThe good news, at least for Tyler Watkins, is that the interest he’s generated in recent months is valid proof that he’s at least being considered for a full ride scholarship. “The sky is the limit for Tyler because never gives up,” Wendy Watkins said. “Tyler goes to the gym seven days a week, and he constantly tells us, ‘No Days Off.’”

“The moment I realized that Tyler may actually have a future in basketball was after several coaches came to me after a tournament handing me their cards saying,  ‘If your son ever needs a team to play for, please call me,’” Leonard Tyler said.

The biggest mystery that remains, particularly at such a crucial stage in their son’s prep basketball career, is at what point will college coaches approach them with that same enthusiasm.

The good news, at least for Tyler Watkins, is that the interest he’s generated in recent months is valid proof that he’s at least being considered for a full ride scholarship.

“The sky is the limit for Tyler because never gives up,” Wendy Watkins said. “Tyler goes to the gym seven days a week, and he constantly tells us, ‘No Days Off.’”

PUTTN’ IN WORK — Aside from his mental assertiveness and favorable IG as the Panthers’ floor general, Watkins acknowledged that his amongst his notable strengths is his ability to penetrate and attack the rim and demonstrating the ability to become the floor facilitators.

Added Leonard Watkins: “Tyler deserves the chance to play on the collegiate level because he is the most hardworking and humble individual I know.”

Not to mention that floor general for an upstart Duncanville team that could stage a dramatic and lengthy postseason run, a trend that, to Tyler Watkins’ credit, would in all likelihood, boost his recruiting stock.

By and large, the good news is he’s still got time to make a favorable impression during what has been a rather compelling scholarship audition.

“The college that offers me will be inheriting both a player and a student dedicated to helping not only myself, but others,” Tyler Watkins said. “I play hard both offensively and defensively.”

That’s because for a kid who boasts lofty aspirations of playing college basketball, he doesn’t just think he can compete with and against the finest players.

Heck, he’s literally gone from thinking to knowing.

 

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.”

Andre Johnson is the founder and publisher of Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former sportswriter for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, 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.

 

 

On Barack Obama’s final day in office, Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki recalls having met the nation’s 44th President

TEXAS SIZE MEMORYDallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki presents President Barack Obama with a jersey during the team’s White House visit in January 2012. Obama’s two-term limit ended on Friday as Donald Trump was sworn in as the nation’s 45th President. (Photo by Jewel Samad/Getty Images)

DALLAS — On a lighter note, following the Dallas Mavericks’ 112-107 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz Friday night in the American Airlines Center, Mavs superstar Dirk Nowitzki took a moment to reminisce on what he described as one of the greatest moments of his life.

While taking questions from reporters, Nowitzki spoke about having met for the first time then-President Barack Obama.

Just before 12 p.m. CST on Friday, the then-most-powerful man on the planet had effectively assumed a label he hadn’t owned since he was elected as the nation’s 44th President in November 2008 — Citizen Barack Obama.

Obama’s two-term Presidential tenure included, among other things, routinely meeting with various college and professional sports teams following their respective championship.

In 2011, the Mavericks entered the NBA Finals as heavy underdogs against the Miami Heat, but managed pull the unthinkable by upending the Heat in six games for their first world championship in franchise history.

In 2011, the Mavericks entered the NBA Finals as heavy underdogs against the Miami Heat, but managed pull the unthinkable by upending in the Heat in six games for their first world championship in franchise history. Approximately six months later, the Mavs made their post-championship visit to the White House. (AP Photo)

Approximately six months later, the Mavs made their post-championship visit to the White House, where Nowitzki, the Finals MVP, stood next to the Larry O’Brien trophy and presented the President with the traditional team championship jersey.

“Well, I was fortunate to meet with the President a couple of times,” Nowitzki said after scoring a season-low three points on 1-of-13 shooting as Dallas dropped its second consecutive game. “Visiting the White House obviously was unbelievable for us after a championship.”

During their visit to the famous address that is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Nowitzki said he was mostly appreciative of how charismatic and accommodating President Obama was to Mavs owner Mark Cuban and the rest of the organization.

“We deserved to go,” Nowitzki said. “(President Obama) was really nice. We got to talk to him a little bit. He was funny.”

Much like Nowitzki was in the locker room on Friday, during which he brought the assembled media to laughs while recalling his very first encounter with the President.

“Obviously, it’s not like we talked foreign affairs,” Dirk, a native German, jokingly said when asked how the conversation went with the President. We talked sports and kept it light.”

It wasn’t long afterward that Nowitzki and President Obama’s paths had crossed again, this time on the soil of the future Hall of Famer’s native country.

GAME HAS GONE FINALOn Friday morning, Barack Obama departs the White House’s Oval Office for the final time as President. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

“I was able to meet him again,” Nowitzki, an 18-year-old NBA veteran, said. “It was at a dinner in Germany with the Chancellor (Angela Merkel) and I was invited to that.”

Nowitzki’s latest meeting with President Obama took place in a more intimate setting and appeared to have lasted longer than the White House tour the Mavs had earned after spoiling the coming-out-party of Miami’s Big Three that was comprised of superstars LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.

“I got to spend some time with him (in Germany),” Nowitzki said. “I was actually sitting at the same table with him. I was fortunate.”

Now that Obama’s two-term limit has all but expired and the nation welcomed President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, Nowitzki said he will be forever grateful of having exchanged pleasantries with the first black President in American history.

Especially the very first time he met Obama, who’s widely known as an avid basketball fan who frequently engages in pickup games.

“That was a great day for all the players and for all the staff to go (to the White House),” Nowitzki said. “That’s obviously a day me and the rest of the guys will remember for the rest of our lives.”



Andre Johnson is Founder, Publisher And Editor-In-Chief of Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, call him at 901-690-6587 or send email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

 

 

 

Lancaster (Texas) High combo guard Kaila Cooks has been as good as advertised since bursting onto prep scene

MAD SKILLSIt is, by all accounts, because of Kaila Cooks’ steadfast commitment to fine tune her mechanics, upgrade her fundamentals and, most importantly, it is due in large part to the unyielding support of her family that has greatly enabled the Lancaster (Texas) High combo guard to exemplify she’s a constant success on and off the court. For starters, Kaila Cooks is making it count mightily in the classroom, where she’s become a fixture as an honor student. As if that isn’t impressive enough, Cooks’ dazzling basketball skills have been nothing short of impressive, for as long as, well, she burst onto the high school ranks.

DALLAS — It seems that just the mentioning of Kaila Symone Cooks’ name will immediately prompt Cheree Cooks to come to smiles and engage in a pretty intriguing conversation about her beloved daughter.

Such was the case this week when Cheree Cooks during an interview with Making Headline News was asked, among other things, about her daughter’s continuous rise as a prep basketball standout.

KAILA AND HER CREWTo get a thorough understanding of how Kaila Cooks has enjoyed sustained success for someone boasts lofty aspirations of playing basketball at the collegiate level, look no further than the tireless support of family and on-the-court supporting cast — from her mom, Cheree Cooks, to her father, Ivary Cooks, to her AAU coaches Dez and Ken Willingham, to Linson and her staff, as well as trainers Charles Stoker and Bootsy McCuen.

“It’s very tiring (at times),” Cooks said. “But I remember growing up that my dad was at every game and the support of a parent means a lot. So I push myself because I believe in her and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.”

It is, by all accounts, because of Kaila Cooks’ steadfast commitment to fine tuning her mechanics, upgrading her fundamentals and, most importantly, it is due in large part to the unyielding support of her family that have greatly enabled the Lancaster (Texas) High junior combo guard to exemplify she’s a constant success on and off the court.

For starters, Kaila Cooks, who’s widely known as “KC Cooks,” is making it count mightily in the classroom, where she’s become a fixture as an honor student. As if that isn’t impressive enough, Cooks’ dazzling basketball skills have been nothing short of impressive, remarkable for as long as, well, since she burst onto the high school ranks.

How else to explain her coming-out-party some three years ago when she manufactured a 32-point outburst as an eighth grader? How else to explain how this Texas Top Prospects AAU hoops phenom has routinely managed to draw rave reviews from her high school coaches, a trend that ultimately gave way to her earning a varsity roster spot as a freshman?

“My main goal is to pick up an offer this school year during basketball season and AAU season that is coming up in 2017,” said Kaila Cooks, when asked what are short and long-term goals as a student athlete. “I’ve been playing with (AAU ball) for about five years now, and I just really want this last year of AAU ball to get this one school that would want to offer me (a full ride scholarship).”

To get a thorough understanding of how Kaila Cooks has enjoyed sustained success for someone boasts lofty aspirations of playing basketball at the collegiate level, look no further than the tireless support of her family and her on-the-court supporting cast — from her mother, to her father, Ivary Cooks, to her AAU coaches Dez and Ken Willingham, to Linson and her staff, as well as trainers Charles Stoker and Bootsy McCain.

“My parents and coaches always say, ‘You got this,’” Kaila Cooks said. “Yeah, everyone have bad games. But they tell me to just keep pushing to get better and trust the process and trust myself and just play my game of basketball. And just about anything that I do in life, (my goal is to) continue to be successful and always have the mentality that I got this and just be patient and trust the process of it.”

CHECK OUT KAILA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgk_mCIVIRQ.

For Kaila Cooks, the process at times certainly seemed rugged and discomforting and downright unbearable.

TRUE GO-GETTERFor Kaila Cooks, the process at times certainly seemed rugged and discomforting and seemingly unbearable.
Take, for instance, how two years ago when she surprisingly sustained a torn ACL during a freak, non-basketball-related incident.
For Cheree Cooks, her daughter’s injury was undoubtedly came as a complete shock, one that consequently gave way to a slew of restless nights for a mother who customarily comes to smiles and engages in pretty intriguing conversations about her beloved daughter.

Take, for instance, how two years ago when she surprisingly sustained a torn ACL during an apparent freak, non-basketball-related incident.

For Cheree Cooks, her daughter’s injury undoubtedly came as a tear-jerking shock, one that consequently gave way to a slew of restless nights for a big-hearted mother who customarily comes to smiles and engages in pretty intriguing conversations about her beloved daughter.

“The doctor called and said she has a torn anterior cruciate ligament,” Cheree Cooks explained. “My response was, ‘Can she still play?’ He said not without surgery and that it’s going to take about six-to-none months (to recuperate).”

As expected, Cheree Cooks found it difficult to stomach such horrifying news.

“I then said, ‘Speak English…What did she do?’” Cheree Cooks said. “He said she tore her ACL. I had no words.”

Well, in actuality, she did have words.

Lots of them, mind you.

That’s because during her daughter’s rehabilitation period, Cheree was the mastermind, of sorts, particularly with regards to keeping Kaila Cooks in favorable spirits.

So much, in fact, that she staged on the walls throughout their home torn pieces of notebook papers accompanied by encouraging words, a trend that, to Kaila’s credit, benefited her mightily as she continued to recoup comfortably from what obviously was a devastating injury.

LOOKING AHEAD“My main goal is to pick up an offer this school year during basketball season and AAU season that is coming up in 2017,” said Kaila Cooks, when asked what are short and long-term goals as a student athlete. “I’ve been playing with (AAU ball) for about five years now, and I just really want this last year of AAU ball to get this one school that would want to offer me (a full ride scholarship).”

One that, as it pertains to taking inventory of her young life, essentially has made Kaila the catalyst of an upstart Lancaster basketball team — on and off the court.

“Kaila loves this game, she sees the floor like no other and, although this process has been hard, I know in the end she will win because she has put in the Work,” Cheree Cooks said. Kaila has a great support system and all Kaila family wants the world to see what we see.”

Now the world is starting to know.

Now the world is starting to see.



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.”

Andre Johnson is the founder and publisher of Making Headline News. 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.

 

 

 

 

Dallas-area athlete Seth Texada aiming to increase his recruiting stock when he suits up for Grapevine High in 2017

DALLAS — Ricky Texada pastors arguably one of the most advanced, prosperous churches in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

That, by all accounts, means he’s pretty efficient and knowledge of the written word of God.

Interesting enough, when it comes to the athletic talents of his son, local prep athlete Seth Ryan Texada, Ricky Texada is one who can assess his son’s skills and mechanics with the best of them.

“Seth first played organized flag football at nine years (of age),” Ricky Texada, the Campus Pastor of Covenant Church of Colleyville, Texas, told Making Headline News this week. “He was very instinctive in route running, catching and defending. His speed was two-to-three steps faster than everyone on the field. He began playing (competitive) football in the fifth grade.”

 

FULL FAMILY SUPPORTGiven his immense strides and considerable progress he’s made in recent years, Seth Texada (No. 12) is seemingly making a strong case that he’s destined to put his athletic skills on display at the collegiate level in the coming years. A speedy 5-foot-6, 155-pound running back who emerged as the catalyst for a Grapevine Faith Christian team that ended the 2016 season with a seven-game undefeated streak and a Texas private school state championship, if nothing else, Seth Texada only increased his recruiting stock as he prepares to make the lofty transition to public schools competition next year. Having played for a Grapevine Christian team that was ranked No. 79 in Texas by Maxpreps.com, Seth Texada will suit up next season for nearby Grapevine High.

Given the immense strides and considerable progress he’s made in recent years, Seth Texada is seemingly making a strong case that he’s destined to put his athletic skills on display at the collegiate level in the coming years.

A speedy 5-foot-6, 155-pound running back who emerged as the catalyst for a Grapevine Faith Christian team that ended the 2016 season with a seven-game undefeated streak and a Texas private school state championship, if nothing else, Seth Texada only increased his recruiting stock as he prepares to make the lofty transition to public schools competition next year.

Having played for a Grapevine Christian team that was ranked No. 79 in Texas by Maxpreps.com, Seth Texada will suit up next season for nearby Grapevine High.

RUN SETH, RUN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGcvxLhYzrU.

As he tells it, he certainly welcomes what undoubtedly will be a monumental challenge as a newcomer to a Mustang team that ended the 2016 campaign with an impressive 10-2 finish and advanced to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.

“I had to make the most of every touch since I played behind (All-State running back) Keyshawn Wyatt,” said Seth Texada, assessing his overall performance this past season. “I kept the chains moving.”

Most importantly, this multi-sport athlete was as good as advertised in playing alongside Wyatt, arguably one of the most rugged, efficient rushers in Texas who amassed a career-best 2,888 yards rushing this past season.

For starters, Seth Texada proved, among other things, that even with a small frame, he boasts the smarts to elude opposing defenders, considering he reached the end zone on an average of six carries.

As if that wasn’t enough to draw rave reviews, Seth Texada was just as reliable on special teams, where he averaged in the neighborhood of 32 yards per punt return.

Wait…there’s more, he acknowledged.

“I improved my run, blocking and pass protection,” Seth Texada said. “Overall, it was a great season, especially to top it off by winning the state championship. Now I have a football championship to go with a state championship (in track and field). That’s two state championships in one year…not bad at all.”

Fortunately Seth Texada, with two full seasons of major prep football ahead of him, at least one intriguing thing has been determined for this overwhelmingly gifted — yet sometimes underrated — athlete.

RUN TELL THAT — “Coaches and recruiters need to know that no one is going to outwork me,” said Seth Texada who, last summer, was extended invites to camps at Texas State, Arkansas State, Arkansas Tech, Southeastern Oklahoma State and Southern Methodist University, although scheduling conflicts didn’t allow for him to attend any of them. I also understand the value of their investment in me and what it means to be a student-athlete. I have two cousins playing at the (major Division 1 football), which makes me understand that there is a price to pay for success. I’m a man of high morals and character, and I will represent (a college) program in the best possible way.”

That is, he’s exemplifies that championship pedigree, something that, in some cases, can’t be merely taught.

The biggest mystery now, it seems, is at what point will scouts and recruiters consequently take notice.

“Coaches and recruiters need to know that no one is going to outwork me,” said Seth Texada who, last summer, was extended invites to camps at Texas State, Arkansas State, Arkansas Tech, Southeastern Oklahoma State and Southern Methodist University, although scheduling conflicts didn’t allow for him to attend any of them. I also understand the value of their investment in me and what it means to be a student-athlete. I have two cousins playing at the (major Division 1 football), which makes me understand that there is a price to pay for success. I’m a man of high morals and character, and I will represent (a college) program in the best possible way.”

Without question, his father will be right there throughout the entire recruiting process, steering him in the right direction.

Just as he does for, well, the rest of his sheep.

ESTABLISHING A COVENANT: http://www.covenantchurch.org/.

“The sky is the limit for Seth,” Ricky Texada said. “Last summer as a freshman, he ran a 4.43, (had shown) has a 35-inch vertical jump and ran a 4.19 shuttle. These are measurable that matter when determining athletic ability. The one thing that can’t be measured is heart.”

Given the continuous progress Seth Texada has made in recent years, it’s safe to assume greater days are on the horizon for a thriving multi-sport athlete, one whom seems well on his way to appearing under the recruiters’ radar.

Much sooner than later.



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.”

Andre Johnson is the founder and publisher of Making Headline News. 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.

 

South Gibson County guard Ladarian McCurrie expected to graduate with honors, now auditioning for an elusive athletic scholarship

xMEDINA, Tenn. — One thing about Ladarian McCurrie is that no one has to remind him of his role as a member of the South Gibson County High basketball team.

For McCurrie, his role for the Hornets of Medina, Tennessee is one about which he takes seriously and with great pride and dignity, considering coach Eric Hampton and his staff mostly look to him as being the floor general, or sorts.

“My role as the point guard is to drive the ball to the goal where I can either take the shot or pass it to either of the other shooting guards,” McCurrie told Making Headline News earlier this week. I am a team player, so I mostly pass the ball to the open guard to generate the three.”

STAGE PLAY --- In what undoubtedly is a pivotal stretch in his final prep season for South Gibson County High, amongst the things about which senior guard Ladarian McCurrie is aiming is doing the necessary things that will ultimately give way to his being afforded the golden opportunity of playing basketball at the collegiate level. While he has yet to field any official scholarships offers, it is a foregone conclusion the future for McCurrie looks extremely favorable, in large part because with a cumulative grade point average of 3.8, he is on pace to graduate in the top five percent of his class.
HUGE STAGE PLAYIn what undoubtedly is a pivotal stretch in his final prep season for South Gibson County High, amongst the things about which senior guard Ladarian McCurrie is aiming is doing the necessary things that will ultimately give way to his being afforded the golden opportunity of playing basketball at the collegiate level. While he has yet to field any official scholarships offers, it is a foregone conclusion the future for McCurrie looks extremely favorable, in large part because with a cumulative grade point average of 3.8, he is on pace to graduate in the top five percent of his class.

To his credit, McCurrie, a 17-year-old senior for a South Gibson team that played at arch rival Bolivar Central Friday night, his primary responsibilities have been that primarily of a combo guard, meaning this slim, speedy 5-foot-9, 150-pounder is expected, by all accounts, to display significant roles both as a scorer and floor facilitator.

Most importantly, in what undoubtedly is a pivotal stretch in his final prep season, amongst the things about which McCurrie is aiming is doing the necessary things that will ultimately give way to his being afforded the golden opportunity of playing basketball at the collegiate level.

MR. DO-IT-ALL --- One thing about Ladarian McCurrie is that no one has to remind him of his role as a member of the South Gibson County High basketball team. For McCurrie, his role for the Hornets of Medina, Tennessee is one about which he takes seriously and with great pride and dignity, considering coach Eric Hampton and his staff mostly look to him as being the floor general, or sorts.
MR. DO-IT-ALLOne thing about Ladarian McCurrie is that no one has to remind him of his role as a member of the South Gibson County High basketball team. For McCurrie, his role for the Hornets of Medina, Tennessee is one about which he takes seriously and with great pride and dignity, considering coach Eric Hampton and his staff mostly look to him as being the floor general, or sorts.

While he has yet to field any official scholarships offers, it is a foregone conclusion the future for McCurrie looks extremely favorable, in large part because with a cumulative grade point average of 3.8, he is on pace to graduate in the top five percent of his class.

In essence, what that means essentially is that even if he finishes the academic year without signing a National Letter of Intent, the possibility exists that not only will McCurrie almost certainly be offered an academic scholarship, but he will likely be afforded the chance to join a college hoops program as walk-on.

Either way, a free education appears inevitable at this point for a kid who boasts lofty aspirations of putting his athletic skills on display.

“They will be inheriting a competitor, an encourager, and a player that is driven by ambition,” said McCurrie, when asked what type of player would college coaches inherit if he’s granted his long-awaited opportunity.

CHEERING HIM ON --- Either way, a free education appears inevitable at this point for a kid who boasts lofty aspirations of putting his athletics skills on display. “They will be inheriting a competitor, an encourager, and a player that is driven by ambition,” said McCurrie, when asked what type of player would college coaches inherit if he’s granted his long-awaited opportunity.
CHEERING HIM ONEither way, a free education appears inevitable at this point for a kid who boasts lofty aspirations of putting his athletics skills on display.
“They will be inheriting a competitor, an encourager, and a player that is driven by ambition,” said McCurrie, when asked what type of player would college coaches inherit if he’s granted his long-awaited opportunity.

As McCurrie tells it, while playing major prep basketball in a relatively small town reduced his ability to acquire the proper exposure, he strongly believes he boasts the skills, mechanics, and assertiveness to handle the hustle and bustle that college athletics create.

“Sometimes, newspaper articles do not capture the whole story,” McCurrie said. “Oftentimes, the newspaper does not detail that I contribute nearly seven rebounds, five steals, and nearly 10-to-15 assists a game, or how I give my teammates confidence while I’m on the court or on the bench.”

vbAll of which explains why McCurrie is destined to possess what he describes as a fair chance, one that would enable him to appropriately audition for a college hoops scholarship.

“Playing college ball is a dream for me because I am coachable,” McCurrie said. “I am willing to take risks. I am willing to put in the time, effort, and work to prove that I am ready to compete on the collegiate level. I am realistic about my ability and skills, and I know that there is plenty of work for me do, because growth on or off the court is a continuous process. But I am hopeful, prayerful, and faithful. I’m just looking for the opportunity to help a team.”

Something about which he’s done time and again throughout his notable high school career.



awseeEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that 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 founder and publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.