Father's Day: Elite players talk about fathers' impacts on their games

Photo: Jon Lopez

Father's Day: Elite players talk about fathers' impacts on their games

Boys Basketball

Father's Day: Elite players talk about fathers' impacts on their games


From Michael Jordan to Shaquille O’Neal, countless legendary basketball players have often raved about the impact their fathers had on their successes on and off the court.

In observance of Father’s Day, we caught up with elite high school basketball players around the country and had them dish on how their fathers impacted their games.

M.J. Rice, Durham (North Carolina) Academy, SG, 2022

College: Undecided

“Ever since I was a kid my dad has always been my support. He’s been everything to me and he’s guided me in everything. He’s been my trainer, my coach, my dad, my friend and he’s sacrificed a lot for me. I really appreciate everything he’s done for me because I know I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”

RELATED: Sharife Cooper ready to take on all comers

Isaiah Stewart, La Lumiere School (La Porte, Indiana), F, 2019

College: Washington

“When I was younger my dad made a commitment to be at all of my games. I wasn’t even all that good, but he’d be there loud and cheering me on. A Lot of people don’t have a father figure in their life, but I realize how big that was for me. He would drive me 40 minutes to workouts regularly to get me better. He’s the reason I work so hard on the court and for that I owe him a lot.”

Jaden Springer said his father was “very” influential in his development. (Photo/Gregory Payan)

Jaden Springer, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida), CG, 2020

College: Undecided

“My dad, he means a lot to me. He’s the one who pushes me every day to become a better basketball player and a better person. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”

RELATED: USA Today’s Chosen 25 Basketball Rankings

Sharife Cooper, McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Georgia), PG, 2020

College: Undecided

“I basically owe my dad everything because he’s the one that put the ball in my hands. It’s hard to be the dad and the coach sometimes, but I appreciate how hard he pushes me to be my best. He taught me a lot about the game and everything that he’s done for me has brought me to this point, so I owe him a lot for that.”

Julian Newman, Prodigy Prep (Orlando, Florida), PG, 2020

College: Undecided

“My dad is the guy who started me playing basketball. He’s my coach and he works with me on everything. He’s the guy who catches my rebounds and passes them out so I can get shots up and he makes sure that I’m getting better every day. He put the love of the game in me and I can’t thank him enough for that.”

Daeshun Ruffin, Callaway High School (Jackson, Mississippi), PG, 2021

College: Undecided

“My stepdad was really influential for me on and off the court. He did everything from giving me advice to teaching me things about the game and just about life. He would always take care of me whether I needed shoes to play in or to get to tournaments. He’s a guy that I just don’t want to let down, so I really appreciate him.”

Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY


More USA TODAY High School Sports