Junior varsity boys’ basketball season is over with a final record of 13-7, but the varsity team was headed into the playoffs and needed some help from JV players. Sophomores Nathan Bowman and Jaden Rowe and freshman Justin McGraw are some of the players who got called up.
JV had loads of talent: a chunk of the players are returning, and will move up to varsity. That is part of JV head coach Andre Gaines success. Each year, Gaines and varsity head coach Erick Graves come together and choose which players get called up. Gaines has done this process before, so he knows the pressure and how everyone wants to get called up, but only certain players get the opportunity. Gaines is very proud of all of his players and thinks that this time on varsity can help them with the pace of the game. “The game gets a lot stronger and quicker, and you have to process the game quicker, because you are playing against bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic players. And that big difference is like going from ninth grade to 10th grade,”Gaines said.
Nathan Bowman continues to contribute his share of points as he played on JV his freshman and sophomore year. Bowman hopes that his contribution to varsity for the playoffs can help secure a spot on varsity next season. “I’m very excited to be a part of a team that has the ability to make a long playoff run and I’m taking advantage of the chance to practice with the older guys and learn from them,” Bowman said.
Big man freshman Justin McGraw was the only freshman to get called up. McGraw has wicked speed and a nice touch to his mid-range jump shot, which is a large benefit for someone tall like him. McGraw can also get inside the paint and grab those boards, as he averages about four rebounds a game. McGraw was excited to be called up to varsity. He said, “It feels good, you get to see how the varsity guys play while learning from them at the same time. It’s a very good learning experience.”
Jaden Rowe knew that he had a good chance of getting called up but was extremely nervous about it until the first practice. He knows the pressure that each player gets. “At the beginning, I was feeling excited about being called up to varsity and looked forward to it, but when the first practice came in, I had immediate butterflies in my stomach. The difference from JV and varsity was based on skill and more competition. They took it more seriously than we did on JV even during stretching, but after a few practices I started to get use to the challenge,” Rowe said.