The NY2LA Sports Summer Jam has carved out a legacy as one of the premier club basketball events of the summer as many of the nation’s top teams and players have been coming from all over the country (and now world with teams from Canada and Australia) for over a decade.
Two of the premier point guards in attendance are legacies themselves.
MBA Hoops’ Nick Weatherspoon and Howard Pulley’s Tre Jones both have seen their recruitments go into overdrive in the last year, but are familiar with the process as a few years ago they were on the outside looking into their older brothers going through their respective recruitments.
Weatherspoon’s older brother, Quinndary, is entering his sophomore season at Mississippi State after being selected to the All-Freshmen team in the SEC as a two-guard while Jones’ older brother, Tyus, is coming off his rookie season as a reserve point guard with the Minnesota Timberwolves (following one season, and a National Championship, at Duke). While both kids lean on their older brothers for advice, they each learned something on their own a few years ago watching how their brothers handled being courted by a collection of schools.
“When he talked to all those colleges, he would tell me all about it and how hard it was to make a decision,” Weatherspoon said. “I picked up that if colleges have a lot of guards, you might not want to go there but if you think you can outwork them then you still can go.”
“Always humble yourself, and not get too big-headed,” said Jones of what he took from Tyus. “He had so many things going for him, and they still are going for him, and he’s never gotten too big-headed. He doesn’t let much get to him or get cocky with anything.”
Weatherspoon, a 6’2 class of 2017 Velma Jackson product, has soared up the national rankings in the last year after breaking out last July at the Summer Jam teaming with incoming Mississippi State freshmen Tyson Carter and Mario Kegler.
Part of the reason for Weatherspoon’s ascension up the national rankings and collection of offers from Mississippi State, UNC, Ohio State, Iowa State, LSU, Memphis, NC State, Indiana, Georgetown and Louisville is his added jump shot to his arsenal. Always an electric athlete for the position, having a consistent shot-making ability all the way out beyond the three-point arc has made him one of the most dangerous guards at the Summer Jam as well as in the high school ranks.
His method for improvement was also modeled after his older bro, who he watched improve himself to a high major Division I player from afar.
“My high school coach and I go in the gym to work on my jumper,” said Weatherspoon, who cites Russell Westbrook as his favorite player in the league. “They told me I wouldn’t be as good if I didn’t develop a jumper, so I got in the gym during the high school season and all this summer. Now I feel comfortable I can knock that shot down.”
“I had always been an athlete, but I just got in the gym. I looked at my bigger brother because at first I didn’t know he’d be as good as he is. I watched my high school coach develop him, then I asked my high school coach to do the same.”
At the rate Weatherspoon has improved, it won’t be a shock if he becomes must-watch TV when he is in the college ranks (wherever he winds up).
Jones, a five-star prospect in the class of 2018, has already collected offers from Duke, Minnesota, Memphis, Baylor, Arizona and Texas Tech.
Like Weatherspoon, Jones also has been focusing on an improved jumper to make him an even more dangerous threat as a player. As it stands now, he’s still one of the highest rated floor generals in the class of 2018 by all the national scouting services. But with an older brother who went through most of his prep career as the top nationally rated point guard, Jones has a unique perspective on how to handle the attention and rankings.
“I feel like every kid looks at that type of stuff, no matter how much you try to not look at it,” Jones said. “It’s just in your face, so you’ll see it no matter what. I know (Tyus) didn’t look at it much, and was just trying to work on his game to make it far in basketball. It’s the same for myself. I try not to pay too much attention to that stuff, I just set a high standard for myself.”
His defense and ability to lead were the first things Jones mentioned as what he’s proudest of thus far on the court, and he has been playing in the 17U division at the Summer Jam helping a loaded Howard Pulley squad find major success in the tournament – which concludes Sunday – showcasing those talents and more.
With basically every high major program in the country with at least one representative from their coaching staffs in attendance in Milwaukee, Jones is going to have plenty of eyes on him. Despite the fact he just finished his sophomore year, Jones understands all that comes with being a big time recruit after having a little early help from Tyus.
“I try to have as much fun as I can,” Jones said. “I know not many kids get the opportunity to travel all these places, and play at a high level against some of the best players in the country. So I look at it like a blessing, but I also know I have to try to take care of business (on the court) because this is setting up your future and whether you get college paid for.”
(Photo Credit: Rick Negus)