I had no interest in basketball until eighth grade, but as soon as I picked it up, I was hooked on it.
After making varsity as a freshman at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, I built piles of expectations for myself, dropping my other interests to absorb the basics of a brand new sport.
Being the green player on a team of seasoned hoopsters was overwhelming, but I thrived in solo workouts. Practicing mornings, afternoons, evenings and on weekends helped me play catch-up. I developed an attachment to the echo of a single ball bouncing on an empty court.
After two years of throwing it all down in practice and holding the bench down in games, I became a legitimate player. By the end of my junior season, I felt confident that I could make a college roster.
Of course, COVID-19 cast its shadow over the world at that exact moment. Though this put an end to my season, it ended up being a true blessing. As soon as school let out, I locked all the way in.
During the first four months of quarantine, I lived in two states, gained 35 pounds of muscle through heavy lifting and plyometrics, purchased a car, and was recruited to the best basketball school in the country.
I now live in Napa and attend Prolific Prep of Napa Christian. The stunning opportunity to play for the defending national champions in my senior year is not just a reflection of my work to overcome the challenges of COVID-19. This breakthrough dates all the way back to freshman year, when I promised myself that my name would be on a college roster.
On another note, my senior season at Wilcox was set to be a triumphant finale to my high school career, where I know I would have been a local standout. By transferring to Prolific Prep, I have forgone that opportunity in favor of the long-term objective of playing college basketball.
The best part is that I know the team I’m on right now is better than the college team I will play for. So I’m training above the level I will play at. We have NBA size - four players standing at about 7-foot-tall - and a huge variety of world class talent. I love playing against them because they challenge my game from every aspect.
I feel like I’ve improved in every area. I went from 210 pounds to a lean, shredded 190 and it has improved my ability to elevate. My three-point shot has become cash from anywhere on the arc, thanks to daily shooting work on the gun. My handles have improved, helping me become lethal on a one-dribble drive to the hoop.
I’ve become solid at finishing through hard shot contests as well. I run in the mountains in Napa on rocky trails to improve my balance and muscle reaction time and I’ve watched it work wonders when I stop with two feet in the paint to make a secondary move to the basket.
I find myself making defensive plays more than offensive, stopping the ball in transition and locking down one on one. I also get the occasional help-side steal.
Recruiting-wise, Chico State has shown interest in me but that is the biggest thing missing right now. My confidence and performance is peaking, so I just need the right opportunity. If I don’t receive an offer I’m excited about, I’ll walk on somewhere as I’ve completed around 12 academic college applications, including an application to the Honors College at San Diego State.
For now, I am content holding a place on the bench if that means training alongside the best players in the country. The familiar position of catch-up continues to motivate me through long hours of extra work, which will pay off soon. I have always been comfortable outside my comfort zone. I love the stretch.