Zach Rumph was overcome with the possibilities.
Soon after classes started at G.W. Carver, Rumph had just thrown his first alley-oop pass to Demetrius Houston. He watched Houston soar for a thunderous dunk that gave Rumph cause to pause.
“I had to let it sink in,” Rumph said. “I thought, ‘This is what it’s going to be like all year?'”
It has for Rumph and the rest of the Wolverines.
When Carver (26-1) plays Sparkman (28-7) at 1:30 p.m. today in the Class 6A semifinals in Birmingham, it’s a safe wager that Houston will collect at least one crowd-pleasing dunk.
It’s likely he’ll throw down a few.
It’s also quite possible a slew of college coaches — like the ones who have worn a trail to Carver this season to see him — will bear witness.
“I’ve always realized that I could jump, but I didn’t know how to dunk at first,” Houston said. “In ninth grade, I could almost get my elbow to the rim, but I didn’t know how to jump with the ball.
“Do I jump off one foot or two? It was confusing when I was younger. When I started jumping off two, I started putting it down.”
Houston showed his skill last week at the Central Regional. The Wolverines threw him two late alley-oops in the championship game, both off the backboard.
Both went down smoothly.
“I tell you what: He’s amazing. Night in and night out,” Carver coach James “J.J.” Jackson said. “And you can tell he’s having fun.
“You want them to play hard and you want them to play well, but you also want them to have fun.”
Houston transferred to Carver last summer from Central-Tuscaloosa, where he averaged a double-double as a sophomore. He’s near the same at Carver, which is trying to win its second straight state title — and Houston’s first.
“It’s very exciting for me to move from Tuscaloosa to Montgomery and my first year have a chance to win state,” Houston said.
College coaches fawn over Houston, who said he’s never measured his vertical jump.
Just after Christmas, one major-conference school sent an assistant to Carver’s first-round Dwight Madison tournament game. The head coach came the next night for the semifinals and, after the college played a game the next afternoon, was back at Carver for the championship game.
“Sometimes, coaches tell me they’re coming, and sometimes they just pop up,” Houston said. “I try not to pay attention and just focus on the game.
“A lot of people, when a coach is coming, try to do too much, but I just try to be myself.”