Rise and fire.
Besides being a catchphrase for energetic sportscaster Gus Johnson, it is the description of a shooter unconsciously launching 3-pointers with deadly precision.
Many times, a team has one person known as the player you don’t leave wide open or the consequence will be near automatic. The FAMU DRS boys basketball team has two: seniors Tre Anderson and J.T. Escobar.
While Escobar, who transferred from Maclay, has widely been viewed as a consistent deep threat, Anderson has been increasingly proving he can’t be left alone either. Both have been coached by former Florida State 3-point specialist Adrian Crawford on the art of the “rise and fire.”
“The number one thing we try to work with kids on is repping it out at game speed,” said Crawford, whose basketball skills company goes by the name GameSpeed. “Most of the time kids struggle because they don’t work at the pace in practice or in workouts that they do in the game. The game speeds up, they’re moving faster and mechanical flaws happen.”
For Escobar, who is averaging nearly 30 points per game this year, and Anderson, who is averaging 20, the work to become a steady shooter started with hour upon hour practicing every component necessary to become consistent and mold their body’s muscle memory.
“Eighth and ninth grade was kind of a hard transition because that’s when I was changing my shot,” said Escobar, who scored 42 points in the first game this year, matching the career high he set as a sophomore. “I used to shoot real low and I changed it to up high. It was kind of rough.”
Escobar would leave school and head to Crawford’s house. They would put up 300-400 shots a day. The variance was from all depths and techniques: catch-and-shoot, floaters, layups, shots off the dribble.
“You have to put up a lot of shots from all different angles because you never know where you’re going to shoot in a game,” Escobar said. “One key thing for me is having a high release point. Not being a super tall guard, you will have taller people guarding you and it’s important to pull up high so you can get it off over anybody in any situation.”
Anderson, a few inches shorter but more quick, has an even higher release point. But currently knocking down 33 percent of his 3-point shots seems to be worth the changes he made following his sophomore year.
“I figured out I wasn’t going to be 6’5″ so I had to get my release point up,” said Anderson, who scored a career high 41 this year. “Going from my hip to up over my head was tough. And I had to go at game speed or I’d have to do it over again. Sometimes, (Crawford) would get a pole and I’d have to get my shot up over the pole.”
Escobar is making his 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, which combined with his 92 percent success rate at the free throw line, is a stellar proficiency. And one opposing coaches are well aware of in tight game situations.
In fact, in FAMU High’s most recent victory over Rickards, every time Escobar touched the ball, he was double teamed. That also means someone else is open and many times Anderson made the Raiders pay.
“If they’re going to double team him, I’m going to knock it down,” Anderson said. “If they’re going to double team me, he’s going to knock it down. Everyone knows I can shoot the ball, but sometimes I have to be aggressive and get to the paint. Once I get going then they’ll back up and that’s when my shot will open up.”
Crawford believes that the balance in your base (legs and feet) and the follow through of the shot are the two most critical aspects of being a good shooter. Shooting from hip, shoulder, above head, across the body– none of the stylistic differences really matters if you’re consistent with Crawford’s criteria.
“Really consistent shooters always hold their follow through,” Crawford said. “Ray Allen, Larry Bird, they never shot and dropped their hand. Streaky shooters drop their hands. There’s other stuff– elbows, eyes– but those are the main things.”
Crawford, who has been working with Escobar since he was a fourth grader, has been drilling follow through into both his Rattlers pupil’s heads. Wrist snaps, five fingers finish down, right at the middle of the rim.
“Shooting form is a signature,” Crawford said. “There’s fundamentals, but everyone’s is different. Once you find what a kid is comfortable with, you make them put in the work to be consistent.”
Shooters aren’t born, they’re made with dedicated practice time fans don’t see. With film study, mental training, weight lifting, repetitive movements until the only thing remaining is the sound of a whistle blowing, sneakers squeaking on the court and the crowd cheering as a ball swishes through a net. It’s the ingredients of rise and fire.
“It’s hard to describe, but once you hit two or three shots, the rim seems like the ocean,” Escobar said. “You can throw it up and it’s going in. A lot of times I don’t even remember scoring a bunch of points. You may have 30, 40, but it feels like eight. You just start playing and don’t think or worry about it. Your instincts take over.”