By Tim Gayle
Special to EAN
DJ Jamerson wasn’t sure how he’d fit in as a basketball player at Stanhope Elmore.
He’s the tallest and one of the most athletic players on the Mustangs’ basketball team but he wasn’t sure what type of adjustment he would have to make in his first year with the Mustangs.
“I spent my first year in high school, playing basketball overseas, so this makes my junior year my first time playing in the (United) States,” Jamerson said. “I love it. I love the competition. Everybody is aggressive, everybody wants to get theirs, and I love that.”
Stanhope Elmore started the season with losses to Greenville and LAMP, but recovered from their 0-2 start with three wins in last week’s Montgomery Academy Tipoff Classic to capture the tournament championship, beating St. Luke’s Episcopal 72-25, Loachapoka 58-39 and LAMP 68-59.
“This is a huge confidence booster,” said Jamerson, who earned most valuable player honors after scoring 27 points in the championship game. “This tournament, us coming back off of two losses and getting three wins, that is a huge boost in confidence and determination.”
Jamerson lived in South Korea – his mother was employed by the military – and once scored 42 points in a basketball game in that country, but was unsure what to expect when his mother was reassigned to Maxwell Air Force Base.
“The thing I find really different is the competition,” he said. “My dad told me when we moved back to the States, people are going to be more aggressive so you have to assert yourself on defense and offense. At first, I’m not going to lie, I was nervous.”
With a good teacher like Stanhope Elmore coach Terry Hardy, a former post player in high school, he made a quick transition to American basketball in losses to Greenville and LAMP to open the season, but needed more exposure to build his confidence.
“We had to get in more practices, review certain things on defense to make sure we could communicate better on defense and on offense,” he said.
And for Jamerson, it was a matter of learning the style of play in Alabama.
“After seeing other people play and seeing how their aggression level is, I said, ‘OK, I can match that,’” he said. “To be frank with you, when you’re on the court, don’t let your nervousness get the best of you. Don’t overthink things, either. That’s when you start getting nervous and that’s when you overthink situations and that pushes down your aggression.
“Some people in Korea, they know how to break down the floor like they do in the States, but there’s not that many people dunking. In South Korea, I really didn’t see that much of that. When I saw a glimpse of it in the States, I’m like, I just have to go in there with authority.”
A week after losing to LAMP, he was a different player in the second meeting, a reflection of the potential for Jamerson and Stanhope Elmore this season.
“The big man was important,” LAMP coach Marcus Townsend said. “We didn’t have an answer for him down low. When we played good defense, he was there to clean it up.”