What The Game's Been Missing...
From day one, Ja'Quaye has been one of the most electrifying players on the east coast. This kid is a walking bucket. James is one of the founding fathers of the world renown "Jelly Fam" movement. His style of play is electric. James is known for heating up fast. You never know when he can go off for 40. As a result, his games are some of the most watched in New Jersey.
Sometimes when you see a player can be flashy but his style of play doesn't result in wins. With James, that couldn't be further from the truth. The crafty guard has won Group the past two years. This year he is looking to go all of the way. It's only right that we paid homage and selected James as a diarist for us this year. Check back throughout the season as James gives us an insider look at the life of a star student athlete playing basketball on the highest level in New Jersey.
Get your popcorn ready!
Hey what's up everyone,
We opened up the season against Pascack Valley in the Hoop Group Showcase. It was great to get back on the court after the short break between the AAU season and the High School games. I was excited to get back on the court with my teammates and seeing the hard work we put in over the summer come to life. We came away with the win, so I was pretty happy with that one.
Our next game was against Paterson Eastside in the Playaz Christmas tournament. One of our assistant coaches dad is the head coach of Passaic High School. He told me how Paterson Eastside did them pretty dirty. They were up a lot and still had the starters in, dunking the ball and what not late in the game. I was pretty tight about that one and I decided that I was going to hold him down on this one.
So the game starts. I swinging the ball around. I get loose and get a quick three to get going. At that moment someone in the crowd started heckling me. He says something like “ This aint whatever weak school you been playing before, aint no 40 coming today.” Ok… so what this guy doesn’t know is talking like that actually gets me going. Some coaches tell you to ignore the crowd. My coach lets me play and use that as fuel. I don’t get out of control when that happens. It fires me up. To make matters worse (for him at least,) is that every game I play my dad tells me I need to get 40. He sets the bar high. So I yell back to the guy to calm down. I said “we’re gonna win by 30 and I don’t need 40 to beat you guys, but if that what you want to see I got you.” So the buckets start flowing. Then I hit one of the boys with this CRAZY euro-step for a bucket. Now my dad is amped up talking, this guy is talking, so now I really gotta cook them. Long story short, when my dad says we need 40 we go get 40.
Our next big game was the Playaz New Year’s Jump Off event. We played against Mater Dei. Before we even got there I knew the place was going to be live. It was a good slate of games all day so I knew it was going to be a packed house. I also posted on my Instagram the night before that I was going for my 2,000th point and told people to come out. The gym was completely sold out. No seats in the stands. People under the rims, behind the scoring table, on the stage.. Packed. My mindset from the door was to put on a show.
So the game begins and we get out to a slow start. Coach Smart is a pretty laid back guy. He normally doesn’t say too much but he will get on us if he feels like we aren’t playing tough enough. If we lose we lose, but it won’t be because we aren’t playing hard enough or tough enough. I talked to the guys and I said that I could see Mater Dei giving in if we played harder.
After halftime we were a different team. We started hitting shots and applying pressure. They began to turn over the ball a lot also. Once it became a real game and they had to go out there and make plays, it became another ball game.
We battled back and cut it to a one possession game. I got missed a couple times in transition. We fumbled a couple passes, which caused us to miss out on scoring opportunities down the stretch. The last one I saw the entire play develop. I was hot down the stretch and I knew if we got the ball in my hands I would’ve delivered. We lost a close one but I know we will execute better down the stretch next time.
In the midst of scoring my 2,000th point I felt like scoring the 2,000th point meant a lot more to my family than myself at the time. Don’t get it twisted I was happy, but I’m an unselfish guy and in that moment the only thing that mattered the game and winning that one for my brothers. Once I got home, I talked to my grandmother, my mother and my pops. They were talking about it a lot. I saw the posters. My principal from my school even reached out to my parents to congratulate me for the accomplishment. I think that’s when it kicked in.
It means a lot to me now because I did it at Teaneck. If I did it somewhere else I might have just been another guy that did it. But here it was never done before. Winning a Group championship meant a lot. Not for myself, but for the school and the people.
Our next big game is the against Newark East Side in the Freedom Fighters Hoop Challenge. That will be a good test for us as they are a solid team.
On another note, my favorite artist right now is Lil Baby. My favorite songs are “Freestyle,” and “Hurry.”
Also, my sister is always joking around. She never stops joking and playing. You guys will start catching her joke around a little more on my Instagram. She’s funny.
'Til next time,