They say the third time’s the charm, so that is how it will be. After finishing my two-month summer working hard with Coach Tex and Coach Blaine in Edmonton, I am now three weeks into my third year at the Central Arkansas and I look forward to making it the best. However, this year will not be like the other two. Looking back at it, my first year as a freshman was mostly a learning year. You don’t know, what you don’t know. Quickly, you find out what you are not good at and these are the things you spend your off season working on. For me, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a redshirt year in which, I was able to purely work on my game. Furthermore, I fine tuned my skills and added 20 pounds but my improvements were not just physical. While redshirting the knowledge I gained was compounding and it allowed me to work on the mental aspect of the game. The last two years I made some serious deposits. This year it’s all about the withdrawals. As the pre-season progresses, the real season inches closer and closer. The time to cash in is coming and the excitement propels me to train harder and harder everyday. The future is bright with the best yet to come.
Encompassing a trip to France, basic everyday routines, travelling for games to Las Vegas and all over the country, watching our team compete against ranked opponents, sophomore year was interesting to say the least. In my second season at Central Arkansas, I decided to take the eminent redshirt. Though highly unpopular among athletes, redshirting may single handedly be one of the best decisions I have ever made. By definition, the “red-shirt” designation means I was a sophomore in college who practiced with the team but did not play in any games. The past season will not count against my four years of NCAA eligibility, allowing me to play four full seasons. For me, redshirting, in more ways than one can be described as hard workout you dread to do; you know you will get better and you must do this workout but the grind and agony can be somewhat daunting. To me, redshirting was a year long workout. During said workout, it is hard and you may not enjoy such discomfort but you do it anyway. After it is done, you are glad you did it and you come out better than you were in the beginning. This statement epitomizes my year. Having to sit and watch was somewhat challenging but because so much was learned, minute affliction such as sitting out proved itself to be miniscule. Though redshirting tested my character and will, it was all for the better and I am very glad to have done it.
It’s that time of year, I am back in school but this time, it is no longer my first go around the block. Going into my second year of college, it can be described as being given the opportunity to do something again but only the second time, I am wiser and more finely seasoned. Taking all the experiences from my freshman year whether good or bad, you can learn so much. With this gained knowledge you are able to know what you can change to make your second year, better than your first. Everything changes the second time around. You workout different, you shoot different, one can say you even eat, sleep and breathe different. Your experiences change you and it is only for the better. When getting better everyday is the goal, everyday is an opportunity and everyday is also a challenge. The outcome may be different but the goal remains the same. Always wanting to get better and always striving to learn. The fact of the matter is, when you are a sophomore you can no longer make rookie mistakes and the only way you can do this is by learning from your past experiences. By doing so you learn to live and strive in moment, focusing on getting better. In the end, it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey. Enjoy the ride.
It was a long year but my freshman season in college, has been long from over. Filled with ups and downs my first year as a college basketball player was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had. Spending so much time with my teammates, you get to realize how important it is to have a good bond with those whom you take the court with. Getting to know each and everyone allows for memories that can never be replaced. From going on road-trips and playing in large crowds to enjoying the taste of victory to jokes around in the locker room, freshman year was one for the books. Looking back at it, so much was learned and I was able to better myself as an individual. Getting to play throughout the year, you realize fast what your strengths and weaknesses are. As a player, you want to maximize your strengths and your opponents are looking to expose your weaknesses. As the off-season is in session, the goal is to minimize those weaknesses and expand your strengths. For everyone, this is different. The majority of the summer is going to be spent working to get better. This involves hours of film, hard weight sessions, and disciplined practice. In the end, it is all worth it.
Christmas is in the air and 2014 is coming to an end. The end of the year brings joyful times but it is also time for reflection. 2014 has been such an eventful year. This year was filled with numerous milestones being reached and in just the last 6 months alone I was able to make progress in so many different areas. Academically, university is sliding on by and I have now finished a full semester. After putting work in the classroom my GPA sits just above 3.0. Though academic accolades are nice, many of my eventful memories come on the basketball court. I am blessed enough to be playing Division 1 basketball and every day it never ceases to amaze me, that dreams do come true. In just my first semester as college basketball player, I was lucky enough to travel and to play in 3 of the top 10 best atmospheres in college basketball. What an experience it was. There is no way to describe the feeling of have 15’000+ people screaming at the top of their lungs, cheering against you. Travelling to Creighton, Nebraska and New Mexico, I was able to experience first hand, exactly what I dreamed of. Just one year ago I was a high school basketball player watching college games on TV. Fast forward 12 months and I am blessed to be able to play in them. There are many kids around country dreaming, just like I was a year ago. As it is the season of gifts, I am hoping these kids get to live out there dreams whatever they may be.
Summer is over! Amidst school having begun already or beginning this week for the rest, the realization that summer is over has come to us all. Being away from home for 9 weeks now, I have been able to adapt to my new environment. It is now early September and most of you are wondering just where July and August has gone. For me, my days were spent gearing up for the upcoming college basketball season. This summer, basketball training was accompanied with full school days and numerous hours of study hall per week. Having just graduated high school prior to my journey to Arkansas everything was new to me. Thus said, adjustments were made and I was able to develop holistically. Not only have I improved my basketball skills but this summer I added physical strength, mass and now have the wisdom of a university semester under my belt. All these improvements fall under development. This development is what I look for, as I head into my first college basketball season. With Creighton, Nebraska, New Mexico and Stephen F. Austin on this year’s schedule, it is crucial I make progress as a student-athlete and develop myself on and off the court in order to help my team. Fall inches closer and closer and we are preparing for the first day of official practice. As the first game is just two short months away, there is a sense of urgency in every rep of every practice and every workout.
It was a long and hard road to get to the Division 1 level but finally I am here. With the odds stacked up against me, it is more than a blessing to be given an opportunity to play the highest level of amateur basketball in the world. Including Canada, less than two percent of all high school basketball players move forward to play basketball at the Division 1 level. Of those to earn US scholarships, there has only been 4 in the history of Edmonton basketball to precede me. Accomplishing such a daunting task is monumental and is a statement to the extent I wanted to achieve my goals. However, all celebrations and feeling jolly is over. The journey has begun and the tides have shifted. New goals must be set and some self evaluation must be done. Those who excel here at this level are not just naturally talented but they work hard, listen to their coaches and do what is asked of them. My job in these summer months is to be a sponge and not a brick. It is also, to learn the crafts of the Division 1 level by watching film, learning plays and noting good habits of the veterans in the locker room. Mountains of work must be done to break the transition from high school to Division 1. To start things off, ample amounts of weightlifting must be done to in these summer months. The physicality and intensity of Division 1 basketball will require one hundred percent effort in the preparation on the court and in the classroom. I am here now in Arkansas not only to work on my basketball game but to get ahead in my degree and lighten my in-season load by taking summer courses. Along with improving on the basketball court, I must exemplify being a true student athlete.