EVANSVILLE, Ind. — It’s always Kiyron Powell’s first thought.
“I have to call my mom.”
It was the first thing that came to mind when he received his first Division I scholarship offer a year ago this month from Miami of Ohio. His Bosse High School boys’ basketball coach Shane Burkhart has a rule on the bus: No cell phones. The Bulldogs were on their way back from a game in Indianapolis when Powell got his offer.
Burkhart made an exception to the rule. There was no way he could make Kiyron wait three hours to tell his mother, Teresa Higgins.
“Look at him over there,” said Burkhart, nodding in the direction of Powell talking and laughing with Higgins inside Bosse’s gym. “He adores her. She is the single most important person to him and I think that is so special.”
They’ve been through life’s ringer together. The ups and downs, including Powell’s ongoing battle with epilepsy.
But 2018 seemed to be a good year for them. Higgins recently moved to the day shift at her factory job, so she finally gets to watch her son play this season, following a seven-month stretch in which Powell was offered by Evansville, New Orleans, Xavier, Georgetown and Kansas State.
Those are some big-time programs, and more are sure to come as Powell is only a junior. Burkhart has often said the lanky 6-foot-9 forward is a different player than this city has seen in a long time.
He’s just different all-around, though.
Bigger than basketball
Powell is always smiling.
“All the time,” senior teammate Javen Layne said. “Early morning, coming to school. He always puts a smile on your face if you’re down. He’s going to play with you until he gets you to smile. He just wants everyone around him to be happy just like him.”
That’s how he was raised.
Higgins plays both parental roles in the household. She’s the head. There is no question who is leading this race. She’s sacrificed for Powell and his older brother, Gabe, by working extra shifts the last two years at Toyota.
Far too often, Higgins heard about her son’s accomplishments only through word of mouth.
Her excitement was surreal because of that. Powell feeds off it.
“It feels good and helps me compete on the court because I know she competes off it,” he said. “She never really got any sleep. That’s why I’m trying to do this one day, so she can retire early and then I’ll be able to take care of her.”