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Posted On: 09/4/18 1:36 PM
The MIAA A Conference is always stacked with great basketball talent. The usual juggernauts include teams like St. Frances and Mt. St. Joseph. If you check back in a year or two, McDonogh could very well work themselves into the top tier teams with their skilled, youthful roster. One key piece to completing that puzzle will be rising sophomore Jared Billups.
Billups was on the roster last year, but played limited games due to a patella injury. The usual theory for young players sustaining injuries is that they’ll be able to recover very quickly, but knee injuries are always a concern no matter the age.
From the beginning of spring with Team BBC, Billups erased any doubt anyone had about him bouncing back from the injury.
“This summer was really about me getting back to where I know I could be,” Billups told Prep Hoops. “I think I grew as a player by getting stronger. I was more aggressive overall and it helped lead us to a great spring and summer.”
The 6-foot-4 guard packed on 20 pounds of muscle, which makes him look like a complete new player from the eye-test. What fueled Billups throughout the offseason was the fact that he had to watch from the bench when he knew he could’ve been a positive impact for last year’s team.
“In the beginning I was so down about it,” Billups reflected on dealing with his injury. “But everyone around me just kept telling me that everything was going to be alright and I’d be able to bounce back. When I started seeing the growth for myself, I started believing and from there it just took off.”
Sometimes it can greatly benefit a player to sit on the sidelines and watch the game. For Billups, it gave him the opportunity to observe the pace, physicality and expectations the MIAA A Conference demands. Not only that, he was able to watch Noah Locke, current freshman at Florida, work extremely hard day in and day out to set the tone of what being a great player entails. He looks to take what he has learned and put it to the test with this new, exciting team.
“I expect us at the very least to make the playoffs and if not, make a run in the playoffs,” Billups said. “We have so many threats that literally anyone could go off for a 20-point game. I think it’s going to be difficult for teams to guard us.”
Billups has a reputation for being an impressive defender. He takes a lot of pride on that end of the floor. In his short stint last season, he was used to guard the other team’s secondary option on the perimeter.
This upcoming season, he’ll be expected take on a much heavier load.
“I just want to make everyone better when I’m on the floor,” Billups continued, “and not just with scoring, but doing everything like finding the open man and rebounding to give us extra opportunities. When I have my chance, I want to be more aggressive with the ball and finishing, but at the same time, know which shots to take in certain situations.”