Posted On: 12/4/18 10:38 AM
Lakes High School Basketball is back. Although the average fan may chuckle at a statement like this, with Lakes going a combined 30-42 in the last three seasons, things are turning around. The “Lancers” program has not been able to regain momentum since winning the 3A State Title in 2011 after placing 2nd and third just years prior. That team featured a load of college prospects that were experienced and tough as nails. Skip forward to 2018 and everyone in the greater Tacoma area is aware that people won’t be laughing too much longer at the statement that Lakes is back. It’s just a matter of time before the entire state is put on notice. The excitment in the program is back under Head Coach Jordan Barnes, but he understands this is not going to happen over night. The enthusiasm surrounding the Lancers is not necessarily due to them being a favorite to win state this year, as they really are still outsiders looking in. The sophomore class is giving the program hope and a real belief that they can be a force to be reckoned with in due time. Coach Barnes understands the talent that he has in his sophomores, but he is still realistic saying, “They have a lot to learn.” They have started off the season 3-0, but he is not satisfied by winning off of their natural ability and athleticism. He wants to see the team continue to grow and learn the finer details of the game. That is what will help the team compete for a state championship over the course of the next few years. So, speaking of this sophomore class at Lakes, Prep Hoops would like to introduce Washington to the future state contending team developing down in Pierce County.
Jordan McCray, 6’4, PG, NW Panthers- One of the best guards in the 2021 class in Washington. He is capable of playing the one or two position. The starting wide receiver on the football team in the fall excels with his on-ball defense on the basketball court and Coach Barnes describes him as being “more of a killer and defender.” Northwest Panthers coach Darius Joseph echoes this statement saying, “Jordan is one of the best defenders in the state.” He is still growing and his body still has filling out to do, but his mindset, natural ability and work ethic is headed in the right direction. He spends a lot of time training with Coach Darius working on his all around game and he does not have to rely on his raw ability anymore. After getting moved up from the Panthers’ 15U to 16U team this summer, Jordan felt he was able to hold his own playing against quality, older competition. He is off to a big start in his sophomore season, averaging 11 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block per game.
Brandon McCray, 6’4, SG, NW Panthers- The twin brother of Jordan has his own game! Brandon is a left-handed shooter that has the athleticism to get the basket and finish with a dunk in transition. Brandon joined the Northwest Panthers program in 6th grade and worked extremely hard to become a shooter. Coach Darius has spent a lot of time working with Jordan to help him achieve this goal. As an incoming sophomore, Brandon was moved up along with his brother to play on the Panthers’ 16U team. He mentioned this experience gave him a lot of confidence heading into the high school season. Brandon is averaging almost 10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block per game early in the season.
Ja’Von Ervin, 6’4, G, NW Panthers- Ja’Von is one of the best kept secrets in the 2021 class. Apart of the reason for this is he is a true late bloomer. Only a few years ago, Ja’Von was easily overlooked on his youth NW Panthers team. “His body and skill set wasn’t there yet,” his club coach said to Prep Hoops. “But he never stopped working. And he became a starter for us and he has a chance to play Division 1 basketball now.” Coach Barnes raves when talking about the 15 year old sophomore. His work ethic, dedication to the weight room and persistence in getting hundreds of shots up each day has impressed the head of the Lancers program. He is a humble and hard working kid. Ja’Von mentioned that he does not care about stats. He only cares about helping the team win games. Ja’Von may not care about stats, but his impact on the team is being shown statistically averaging 12 points, 5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.
Kenzel Massey, 6’7, SG/SF, NW Panthers- When I ask his club coaches about him, I hear something along the line of “He’s the one.” That statement holds a lot of weight coming from a program that has produced countless Division 1 players and many pros. Opposing club coaches in the Seattle area have told NW Panthers director Garry Ward, “You’ve got yourself another pro right there.” Kenzel has natural talent, growing athleticism and he can really get hot from behind the 3-line. His length and anticipation skills led to 10 steals in his first game against Clover Park. He also added 18 points, 6 rebounds and 5 made threes to his stat line. Kenzel mentioned to Prep Hoops that he really wants to make it to the state tournament and make a name for themselves.
The sophomore class also includes Larry Glover, a 5’10 PG that is also a member of the NW Panthers and 6’0 G TJ Green. In total that makes 6 sophomores, plus senior leader Daeshawn Wayne that have been, or are apart of the same travel program. Coach Barnes says, “I jokingly say I coach the Northwest Panthers, because all of these kids happen to play for the same program, [whether it’s 15U, 16U or 17U]”. What is it about the connection between the NW Panthers and Lakes High School’s basketball program? The roots and history runs deep in Pierce County. The Tacoma Icemen/Icevibe program dates back to when current NW Panthers coach Darius Joseph played with Director Garry Ward Sr’s son in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Those teams are almost like mythical legend in Tacoma. A “You had to be there to see it” type of thing. Darius would go on to play Division 1 basketball at The University of North Dakota before spending time overseas as a professional. The Tacoma Icemen would eventually become known as the Northwest Panthers featuring players from Tacoma, Seattle, and even Vancouver/Portland. I asked every single player what their experience has been like being a member of the NW Panthers and every single word has been positive, which is not often the case in today’s grassroots scene. A step further, all six sophomores on Lakes basketball team have said they plan to suit up for the Avery Bradley sponsored NW Panthers program next spring. That loyalty to one program, in a day of jumping ship by the season or even mid-season is rare, but this could eventually be the trait that leads Lakes High School back to the top. The 2011 State Championship team’s motto was “F.O.E.” or “Family Over Everything”. The 15 and 16 years olds on the current roster may not even know that slogan, but if they stick together like family over the next three years, they could be on their way to a ring as well.
2011 State Championship Articles: https://patch.com/washington/lakewood-jblm/lakes-boys-capture-first-ever-state-basketball-championship-2
2018-2019 Lakes Schedule: http://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/lakes-lancers-(lakewood,wa)/basketball/schedule.htm