Have you ever found yourself lost in a moment, a moment so loud and intense, it’s deafening-time almost stops? It’s the championship game & your standing at the free throw line, down by one, with no time left on the clock, sweat pouring down your face, you feel your heart pounding through your chest… Then all of a sudden you realize, you’re either remembering the way it was or the way you wanted it to be. It might be a moment that could change everything. This is why every decision you make in your recruiting process is extremely important. You want to choose the right school & find the best fit for you. Your outcome, your story, is what you dream it to be-you have to make it happen.
Well, my story begins the summer before freshman year when I received my first letter, for basketball, from Michigan State University. From then on came the letters, the calls, the games, the awards, and the dream grew bigger. The problem was that no one ever told me any of the rules or the processes involved in recruiting. I lived by the infamous line, if you’re good enough they will find you. No one imposed on me the importance of academics, because if they want you, you’ll get in. So, I didn’t have the best grades–I played AAU, I went to camps and I was getting letters, but I never followed up with coaches the way I know now, that you have to. I didn’t play the recruiting game. The sad fact is, that if I did, who knows what could have been. Don’t get me wrong, I love the experiences I have had and the places it has taken me.
Because of my ignorance, the dream slowed down, the calls stopped, the letters stopped coming in and I watched everyone else sign away, pack up and go. I chose to go to South Suburban College, a JUCO on the south side of Chicago. Even though it wasn’t the dream, it was the right fit for me. I didn’t have the grades, I wasn’t ready to leave home and I loved the coach. My first year we were the region champs and we went to the NJCAA Championships. I couldn’t wait for next year, but I got hurt in the first game that year. I struggled to come back, with a torn LCL and bruised Tibia Plateau. I thought it was over, the calls stopped again, the letters didn’t come anymore, so I played hurt. We were region champs and we went to the NJCAA Championships again. That’s where St. John’s University saw me play and I transferred to SJU a DI Big East program. As my Mom would say, “the basketball fairies blessed me.” I finally got my dream to play DI, I will never forget playing at UCONN, a packed house with cameras in your face, fans screaming at you-it was terrifying & awesome all at the same time.
The most important thing is to remember to have fun and to always give it your all, because one day it will be over. I didn’t get to play my senior year in college; I would have needed to get an artificial knee. Whether it’s your senior year of HS, last game in college, after a couple years in the pros, or unfortunately, if you get hurt, what will you fall back on–academics? The one thing I know is that I gave it my all, I left it all on the court; I have no regrets–I want to ensure that no else does either.