Dimencio Vaughn wanted to end his high school basketball career on a high note.
The 6-foot-5 forward was presented with an opportunity to play alongside one of the top players in the country, and on a team that has already reached dynasty status.
Prior to his senior season, the 6-foot-5 forward packed up his things and moved over 1,200 miles from his home in New York’s Bronx neighborhood to Jackson, Miss.
Tonight, Vaughn and Callaway face Ridgeland at 8 p.m. as the Chargers look to capture their fourth consecutive state championship.
Unless you were to ask, you’d probably never know that Vaughn hails from a long bloodline of basketball players. His mild mannered personality doesn’t lend
to bragging about his father, Linzell aka ‘The Predator’ or sister Kia Vaughn, who plays for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
Vaughn’s father is a street ball legend. On a given day, you could walk in to a barbershop or deli in the Bronx and hear certain people reminiscing over his dominance on the court.
“From what I heard he used to jump over cars and dunk on people,” Vaughn said. “I didn’t really get to see him in motion but the old timers and the old street ball people could tell you about him.”
Vaughn is the baby in a family of four sisters and three brothers. His 28-year old sister helped lead Rutgers women’s basketball to the 2007 NCAA National Championship and was later drafted by the WNBA’s New York Liberty before signing a contract with the Mystics in 2013.
Growing up in that bloodline allowed Vaughn to discover his passion.
“Basketball wasn’t my first sport. I grew up playing baseball,” Vaughn said. “I broke my arm and had a full arm cast on my right arm so I started playing around with my left and got used to it. That was towards the middle of my 8th grade year, when I started to take basketball seriously.”
That passion translated into the forward making a name for himself in East Coast basketball circles. Vaughn played for the New York Lightning on Nike’s EYBL circuit, traveling across the country to various AAU tournaments and crossing paths along the way with Malik Newman, who played for the Jackson Tigers.
Coming off its third state championship in 2014, Callaway needed someone to help facilitate and take pressure off Newman.
Vaughn, who attended Thurgood Marshall Academy in New York, saw an opportunity to fill that role. Chargers coach David Sanders did as well.
“I call (Vaughn) a tiger roaming the yard. When he has a head of steam, it’s hard to stop him,” Sanders told The Clarion-Ledger. “He can do it all. He’s no doubt a high-level, Division-I player.”
He’s the epitome of a team’s glue guy – that one player who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work, diving for loose balls, taking the tough one-on-one matchup and doing everything in his power on both ends of the court to get his teammates open looks.
The forward plays the game with an aggressive edge, driving the lane hard to attack the basket but also hanging tough on opponents to force turnovers and get the ball down the court quickly to his teammates.
He’s never been one to seek the spotlight or demand the ball. That unselfishness allowed him to become Callaway’s second leading scorer with 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
“I just play to win,” Vaughn said. “I’m just trying to show my talent, to play a part. As long as you play a part, that’s how people win. I hate losing, I really do.”
For Newman, the nation’s top shooting guard, Vaughn’s ability to “play 1 through 5 and guard 1 through 5” was the difference maker this year for Callaway.
“He just really knows how to play the game and plays hard at all times,” Newman said. “He’s really our ‘x-factor’ – when he’s playing good, the whole team is playing good.”
Most often that leads the offense running through Newman, but even Vaughn, as unselfish as he is on the court, is able to get his.
“I think coming into the season he didn’t expect to be as open as he would be in some games,” Newman said. “After the first couple of games he realized his role was ‘once they double Malik, one you get it just go hard or take the basket.’ Just make plays.”
The unsigned forward doesn’t know whether he’ll head back east after graduation or look to play for a college in the southeast.
Wherever he ends up, Vaughn will provide an irreplaceable edge.
“I’ll go wherever God takes me,” he said. “I’m really hoping to play (Division I). I’m preparing for that.”
Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or email@example.com. Follow @CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.