Nwokah

Original oil painting of a seagull by JC Barnett III

 

Phillip,

 

How are you? I know you don’t know who I am – I’m sure of that; and that’s ok. We are all likely at one time or another, to be unaware of the fact that we’ve been a source of inspiration for someone – and maybe for more than just one person. So, I’m letting you know how you’ve been that for me. I’ve done nothing extraordinary, I’m not famous or rich, or anything like that; beyond pursuing everything I’ve ever wanted and love and finding a little bit of success along the way – I’m only special because I’m a child of God. Maybe my story isn’t worthy of sharing why you mean so much to me, but if I cared – you miss your blessing; I’m not in that business being the reason people miss their blessing, I am blessed to be a blessing. So I must minimize my insecurities. My achievements small as they may be to someone else are huge to me – my life is full of the favor of God. I acknowledge that God created people like you with special gifts to hear stories about – causing people like me to open up and dig deep into my very own bag of gifts.

 

When my sister Eboni, whose last name was Butler at that time, went off to attend Purdue University – there was no way of knowing that that day would be one of many life changing moments for me. I was only 5 years old when she left; In moments of movie-esque style flash backs, I think often to a time I remember I was sitting in the bathtub – my sister Stefani was standing near the bathroom door curling her hair. With the vanity mirror being located just outside the bathroom, and multiple women within the household, it seemed that space was always occupied by someone. That day for reasons I really just can’t explain, I turned to my sister to ask in a small voice, “Does Eboni have a boyfriend?” She looks at me puzzled for a moment and replies, “Yeah ‘man’”. Using my nickname since I was a baby, “she does – she just met him!” I asked, “What’s his name?” She replied, “His name is Tony.”

 

Anthony Lenoir is one of the kindest, most brilliant individuals I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, anywhere!! When I think about our relationship, I realize I have known him literally as far back as I can remember. Most of my memories, vivid or vague, usually go back no further than the age of 5 or 6. When Eboni headed off to West Lafayette the summer of 1990, it wasn’t long after she arrived on campus that she met Tony at a party. Tony is an “Ice Cold Brotha, one of The Oldest & The Coldest, a Man of Distinction”, a member of the prestigious Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; so it is without a doubt they were probably at a frat party. Of course there are two sides to every story – my sister can keep it pretty simple and tell you straight facts but, I like to be entertained; I prefer to hear a more interesting side, and Tony’s is all of that without question. As he tells it – he sees my sister from across the room standing up against the wall, and thinks that she is one of the finest women he has ever seen. He steps to her and makes one of the boldest statements I’ve ever heard, “You’re going to be my wife one day.” And says so with a smile. A bit confused she answers, “And how are you so sure about that!” he says, “I can just feel it!”

 

Tony and my sister Eboni, his wife..

 

Seven years pass, and at the age of 12 years old I’m loving video games – and so does Tony!! We would play all the hottest games – Madden, college football, Mario Kart, track and field etc. In Tony’s transition from college to the workforce, there was a short period of time that he’d watch me during the summer months while my dad was at work. Outside of taking me to various basketball camps, there was a lot of time we spent together for he and I to just talk and chill. He schooled me on so much, he put me on game to so much hip hop music: Ice Cube, KRS-One, E-40, Run DMC, Eric B and Rakim – and the list goes on. He used to play hoops with me and my friends out in the driveway. We really did have a good time. One day while we were talking, I started to tell him about something that I wished I could do one day – it prompted him to start talking about you, Phillip. That was the first time I’d ever heard your name.

 

When Tony began to speak, even at my age I had a clear understanding of the impression you’d left on him. I’ll never forget the moment I began to refer to you as, “the guy who could do whatever he set his mind to”; because that’s exactly how he described you!! He said that the two of you played on a basketball team together, and mentioned that you could shoot the ball very well. One day you said out of nowhere, “Man, I want to shoot the ball from deep, I’m talking deep – I’m going to start lifting.” Tony said some months went by, and you had come back stroking the nets from just inside half court. As he was telling me this story, knowing my passion for hoops, he had my undivided attention. I’m sure he noticed my eyes were open wide; and all I was thinking was – wow I want to be like that!! Then he went on to talk about how easy school came for you and that you made the best grades with minimal effort – expressing how brilliant you are. That one day you decided you were going to learn to play the piano – and a year later, you were playing beautifully. I’ve never, ever forgotten the day he told me about you – and as fuel to my fire I’ve made him tell me about you several times since.

 

Who am I? My brother in law is your friend Tony LeNoir – and my life changed the day that I learned of you. Who are you to me? You are the earthly figure that receives much of the credit for giving me a new outlook on pursuing the desires of my heart, at a very young age. From the moment my brother, because that’s who he is to me – he’s more than just an in-law, told me about you – I can’t seem to shake this feeling that I’ve felt since. It’s the thought that – what if I just do it – if I just set my mind to it I can do it, I know I can!! As a result, I’ve made attempts at so much – and succeeded at much. For many who know me well, they know that many things that I do is not natural for me, and well outside of my comfort zone. There was a seed that was planted inside of me when I heard of the kind of tenacity in which you pursued whatever it is that you wanted. From that day on nothing was going to stop me. In the back of my mind you were always there, and I did the very best I could to emulate you.

 

Phillip Ekechi Nwokah, I have a story to tell because I choose to put my all into everything that I do. Although we’ve never met, and may never meet – I am thankful to you for being the example my heart chose lock on to.

 

Best regards,

 

JC Barnett III

 

From top left to bottom right: Acrylic painting of my sister (Stefani), pencil drawing of an eye, photograph I took at Highland Park, picture of me and my family at Highland Park, pic of me shooting a basketball for my program, pic of me playing football in high school, pic of me playing my white guitar (pearl), pic of me playing basketball in high school.

 

What you’ve inspired:

  • Taught myself to draw
  • Taught myself to oil paint
  • Taught myself to do photography [at one time displaying all of my work inside of a local art gallery ‘Artworks in Kokomo’]
  • To make music completing nearly ten songs [inside of my own home studio]
  • To teach myself to play guitar [played publicly at an event for my employer]
  • To be a good football player [MVP of my high school football team, rushing for 9.3 yards per carry, received partial academic scholarship at a small D3 college]
  • To be a good basketball player [at one time top 10 in 3pt field goal shooting percentage in the state of Indiana, played against 4 future NBA stars (Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr, Josh McRoberts, Eric Gordon), getting the opportunity to coach high school basketball and the youth in my community]
  • To be a good student [my junior year of high school I made straight A’s one time – graduating with Academic Honors, received an IU degree in business]
  • To be a decent sprinter [winning sectional championship in the 100m as a sophomore, racing in the Regional meet against Leroy Dixon (look him up, pretty cool!!)]
  • To have my own business [JC Barnett School of Jump Shooting]
  • To write and be a columnist for a local newspaper [Kokomo Herald]
  • To pursue the woman of my dreams [my wife’s name is Brenda – we have 3 kids]

 

The Roar

“March Madness”, what an amazing time of year!!! A few weekends ago, Indiana was jam packed with college and high school basketball. As I witnessed the 2017 IHSAA State Finals and the NCAA Division 1 ‘Elite 8’ Tourney, I came to an understanding about something that most don’t take the time to think about, especially as a young kid or teenager. I’d like to give everyone – particularly the young audience – a little bit of perspective.

 

This may sound like a line straight out of the movie, “Pursuit of Happiness”, that’s because it is, paraphrased haha. “You gotta dream… You gotta protect it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.” That is exactly my message. It may sound a bit odd to others, but do you know what my favorite sound in the whole wide world is? Beside the sound of my baby boy and girl crying as they came into this world, it is “the roar” of a crowd. I don’t know, I must have developed this love as a young kid when my dad would take me to Kokomo basketball games on Friday nights. That anticipation of  “the roar” as a 3 point shot attempt goes up while the crowd yells in unison “Threeee”, or the anticipation of “the roar” when a talented athlete breaks into the open court knowing he’s going to throw down a monster dunk.. And then to hear it!!! Wow, goosebumps every. Single. Time!!!

 

So, as I’m sitting on my couch watching game after game, I realize:  there are people in this world that will never ever get to experience “the roar”. College and Pro crowds obviously are on a whole other level as far as attendance goes, but that sound, that “roar” was an old familiar sound. Even 13 years removed from playing high school basketball, I can still hear that sound, and it’s something that you will never forget. Seems just like yesterday, 2003, Kokomo’s Memorial Gym on a Friday Night, it was Kokomo basketball program’s 100 year anniversary. Legends of Kokomo basketball were in attendance that night and we were facing an, as usual, tough Muncie Central team. They would later beat us in the first game of the regional, but were no match for us that night. The electricity of 5,000 plus spectators provided us on that special night more than enough energy to get the job done.

 

I will never forget my coach, Mike Wade, calling me from the bench to enter the game for the first time that night. It had been a back and forth game, and as the half approached I could only imagine that he put me in to make a key play we needed to go ahead. That key play, I provided; with a defensive possession on the south end of the basketball court, just in front of our student section it wasn’t long before I made my move. With sturdy, rugged defense I got my hand in on a pass and deflected to a good friend and teammate of mine Deshawn Hawkins.. I’ve heard many athletes say that as they are making a big play they hear nothing that they zone out, not me, I wanted to hear it. So after Deshawn grabbed the ball I had run out ahead of everybody to get a lead down court. I noticed a guy from Muncie by the name of Josiah Miller, he wasn’t far behind so when I got it I had to do something quick. Deshawn and I locked eyes and he tossed it out ahead of me and when I caught it I raced down to do a patented hook layup that a couple teammates used to laugh at me about, but it worked. That last moment as I laid the ball off of the glass, I heard a loud smack that I would realize later was Josiah smacking the backboard in an attempt to block my shot. The ball went in and 5,000 plus went crazy in Memorial Gym to close out the first half. There would be many other moments throughout my high school basketball career that I would hear “the roar” of the crowd, but none would compare to that night.

 

As I sit on my couch watching big shot, after big shot the high school and college athletes were hitting in the biggest games of their young lives, I kept hearing that old familiar sound. A sound I can’t shake, honestly don’t ever want to shake, because it puts me back out on that basketball court. Takes me back to when I would hit a big shot and the crowd would erupt for me, because of something that I had done or a teammate had done. I think about why I was able to hear those sounds, and at the end of every day it comes down to my ability to shoot the basketball.

 

Kids, knowing how to shoot the basketball can bring you amazing opportunities, opportunities just like the one I described to you. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they should be able to look ahead, look into time and see what it is they want to look back on and say, wow, that was a great time. Whether it is good or bad you will be at a point in life where something is going to trigger an emotion, you want that emotion to feel good and not one filled with regret. I’m thankful that I put myself in a position to succeed when I was given the opportunity, for me that was working on my jump shot. In working so hard to be great at shooting the basketball, doing so lead to moments of being able to hear the beautiful sound of a cheering crowd. Choose to be a part of the game in a way that only you can be, everyone has their special and unique place. Doesn’t necessarily have to be shooting the basketball as it was for me, maybe its defense, maybe it’s getting to the basket, maybe its rebounding. Whatever it is nurture it, grow it and watch it help you fulfill some of your dreams..

 

“A Jump Shooter is Always in the Game”

 

~J.C. Barnett III

The JC Barnett School of Jump Shooting Gives Kids A Shot

The JC Barnett School of Jump Shooting has a simple motto: “A shooter is always in the game.” Recruiters, coaches and sports commentators all agree that the ability of a basketball player to shoot and score from anywhere on the court is the key to winning games.

Take, for example, top high school recruitJosh Jackson. The Justin-Siena High School shooting guard out of Napa, California, averaged 28 points per game as a freshman and earned a spot and Gold Medal in the FIBA U17 World Championships in 2014 and the U19 World Championships in 2015.

Jackson’s prolific 50 percent jump shooting from 3-point land during the U19 tournament and his high 2-point percentage made him the No. 1 ranked college recruit this year, according to Rivals.com. He has committed to the Kansas Jayhawks for the 2016 season. The ability to make consistent jump shots sets one player apart from the rest on the court.

Likewise, Steph Curry has captured the imaginations of basketball fans around the world. But what many do not realize is that Curry was not a highly sought after recruit heading into college. He struggled in high school with an awkward jumper.

As an article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out, “Stephen Curry was still shooting from his waist in high school, but his father (Dell Curry) knew he needed to remake his shot to keep up with bigger and better players.”

Curry took a summer off to rework his jump shot and get the ball above his head quickly. He established a new motion for himself in which he elevates only slightly and fires the ball on the way up. The form reduces his release time to as fast as .03 seconds, which cuts down on the defender’s ability to guard the shot. Curry’s training and discipline highlight exactly why developing athletes need good basketball coaching at an early age, which allows them the opportunity to progressively advance their game to the next level.

At the JC Barnett School of Jump Shooting, our mission is to teach the fundamental tools of the jump shot and instill confidence in young basketball players. Our school hones each player’s natural abilities and trains youngsters, 5 and older, and young adults using various techniques, methods and sports theories that build confidence on and off the court.

The game of basketball is a tremendous teacher for youth and adults alike. In basketball, players with excellent shooting skills have the ability to score a flurry of points and overcome late-game deficits. Overcoming adversity in sports shows that, with determination, these kids can learn to overcome any adversity life throws at them.

People like Josh Jackson and Steph Curry are success stories because they learned, early on, the very skills the JC Barnett School of Jump Shooting teaches. These early experiences have made a wealth of difference for them as athletes and can make a difference for you too. Book your session with us today.