|J.C. Smith women's basketball gets into NBA All-Star spirit|
|Team sits in on panel discussion, Nike tech|
|Published Friday, February 15, 2019 4:37 pm|
|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|Johnson C. Smith basketball players Jakeyah McNeil,from left, Blaire Thomas and Maiya Green participated in the House of Hoops pop-up near Spectrum Center Friday.|
Johnson C. Smith women’s basketball experienced unparalleled NBA All-Star access today.
JCSU professor Jemayne King secured an exclusive afternoon for the team at the House of Hoops pop-up across the street from Spectrum Center. Players checked out Nike adapt technology, and sat front row in a panel discussion with Philadelphia 76ers All-Star point guard and last season’s rookie of the year Ben Simmons.
“Nike House of Hoops reached out to me about students having the opportunity to participate in these workshops,” King said. “Our women’s basketball team is going to get a chance today to test the adapt—which is the new technology Nike has worked years on, the most premier basketball shoe ever. This is a once in a generation type of opportunity.”
Said Golden Bulls senior forward Blaire Thomas: “This is dope. This is amazing. I never experienced something like this. I’m loving it.”
Few collegiate programs take in the level of exposure the Golden Bulls had.
“It’s something you cannot put a number to,” coach Steve Joyner Jr. said. “You cannot put words to it. It’s something you have to experience to actually really realize the impact that it has on your city. Local high schools have benefitted from it, elementary [schools], neighborhoods—even at Johnson C. Smith, last night we were able to have the Jordan Brand high school game there [as part of] Own the Game, which was a great experience not only for our student athletes, but for West Charlotte High School right down the street, which helps bring Johnson C. Smith and West Charlotte together in the community.”
An afternoon out is not just a matter of participating in All-Star festivities, but a chance for JCSU’s (13-12, 10-5 CIAA) players to bond ahead of Saturday’s home finale against Livingstone, their main rival in the South Division.
“This was exciting, because we have been in season for a while,” junior guard Maiya Green said. “We don’t really get to do much, so the fact that we were just able to come out and have some fun is good. With the excitement of All-Star weekend and then going into the [CIAA] tournament [on Feb. 25] will give us a little bit of a boost.”
Said Joyner: “You know as a coach that they are going to try to experience [All-Star Weekend] somehow. So you might as well give them a little taste of it before you play, but thankfully the game is not until Sunday, and we play Saturday. It’s Senior Night. I know they’re going to be locked in for the seniors, and it’s a big Southern Division game. Like I always tell them, there is always another party, another event, that we could be the ones celebrated at, so let’s make sure we hold off and sacrifice for that one, which will be sometime in the first week of March.”
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