I have long been a fan of big point guards. Growing up I admired Gary Payton, Jason Kidd and of course Magic Johnson. What made those guys so special to me was their exceptional passing skills, ability to score when needed and advanced rebounding prowess. As a big stat guy, the ability to produce triple-doubles has always amazed me and those three combined for 259 of them. Nothing was more fun than watching those three grab a rebound on the defensive end and then lead the fast break.
One of the risks of playing sports is getting injured. It is a scary reality that very few athletes avoid. A player misses games, misses practices and of course there is the awful rehab that follows. One positive that it brings is in the shape of one of our all-time favorite stories, “The Comeback!" I would like to share one of those stories with all of you. A condensed version of course. (Picture from thenortherner.com)
This is a story of a young man, from a classic small town in northern Indiana. This young man was a standout athlete in football and basketball and was respected around town as a great leader both on and off the court. But in the second football game of his senior year, the hometown hero tore his ACL and would miss the remainder of the season.
What was worst is, how much of the basketball season he would miss? After all the 6’3” combo guard, ranked 19th in the loaded 2014 class by Indiana Basketball Source, was expected to attend Northern Kentucky on a basketball scholarship. Of course the tough as nails competitor wouldn’t stay down long. After missing the first 12 games of the hoops season, he came back sooner than expected and scored 16 points in his first action of the season. His team went on a roll with his return and wound up winning a fourth consecutive sectional championship before losing in the regionals.
Despite a shorten season, the comeback kid was named an Indiana All-Star. He went over 1,000 points in his career and his impact will be felt in the community for years to come. "He now attends Northern Kentucky University”. The End...sort of.
“When they told me it was a torn ACL, I was down for a bit but then I went into a mode of how strong I was going to come back, I want to come back stronger than ever. God has a plan for everything and I know he has a plan”. Tayler Persons talking to Dean Hockney of Sports Journal of Central Indiana.
If you haven’t figured it out by now my story is about Tayler Persons from Kokomo. And yes, he’s really that tough. The now freshman point guard is starting for NKU and leads the team in scoring (12.6 ppg), assists (3.6 apg) and steals (16). He is also second on the team in rebounding. He scored a career high 30 points this past week in a loss to Chattanooga. Persons followed that up with 16 points and eight assists in a win over Morehead State. He was named Atlantic Sun Newcomer of The Week for those performances, the second time he has earned that honor.
It is still early in the season but it appears Persons is adjusting to college nicely. If his knee can remain healthy, and there is no reason to believe it won’t, the future is very bright for this comeback kid. On the court he’s bound to be successful. Once his playing days are over, I am sure he will be successful in what ever profession he chooses. Maybe even mayor of Kokomo.
Whenever a player has to follow in the footsteps of very talented sibling, expectations tend to be very high. When said sibling is your high school’s all-time leading scorer and your dad is the coach, those expectations rise even higher. That was the case for former Rockville standout Lane Mahurin. His brother is RJ Mahurin, a former standout at Indiana State and his father is Davie Mahurin. Oh, and he has an older sister playing basketball at Oakland University. (Photo via IWUHoops.net)
I’m not sure how a player can be ranked in the top 50 nationally and still seem like they’re under the radar but that’s how Trevon Bluiett’s career has gone. Part of a top heavy 2014 Indiana class, the #4 ranked recruit, according to Indiana Basketball Source, played in the shadows of some great players. During the summer he was part of a loaded Spiece Indy Hea AAU team that included the three players ranked ahead of him, Trey Lyles, JaQuan Lyle and James Blackmon Jr. During the school year at Park Tudor it was current Indiana University point guard Yogi Ferrell.