In the summer of 2009, Oviedo basketball welcomed two talented multi-sport athletes into the program, Aj Coney and Blake McClain. Aj started the summer with our freshman team and Blake played for me on the jv. Aj was an all energy two-way menace that was the heart and soul of the team. Blake was the athletic anchor of my team getting into the lane at will, defending and rebounding.
By November, Blake made varsity and Aj jv. They both contributed off the bench, but I have since that season regretted they did not play together….they never would.
Blake played varsity basketball as a sophomore and had an uneven season. Aj played jv again, but not for me. By their junior year, both had given up basketball to focus on football, and Blake transferred to Winter Park.
Today was National Signing Day, and they both signed letters of intent to play division one football: Blake at Kentucky and Aj at Weber State. I am happy for and proud of both of them. They have worked extremely hard to gey themselves to this place, and as my friends I hope they are not satisfied.
A few weeks ago, I was watching an NBA roundtable. Ernie Johnson asked when each of the NBA stars knew they had made it. Without fail each player identified a moment in middle school or high school when their talent became evident to all.
Charles Barkley was the last to respond and the most profound. He recalled a 30 point/20 rebound game in high school against the top rated player in Alabama, then a 20 point/20 rebound game at Auburn against Sam Bouie and Mel Turpin, and finally a game against the Knicks in his second NBA season which drew high praise from Rick Pitino. Barkley noted that is not a matter of “making it” at one moment, but rather a moment of making it at each level of the journey.
Aj and Blake it’s time to make it again.