By TOM WILLIAMS
Dashawn Hendricks had a pretty good basketball season this year.
The Egg Harbor Township graduate, who works in education and is part of the Prime Events sports team that covers high school sports, is the leading scorer in the Jewish Community Center Mens Basketball League with 32.6 points per game. He also leads the league, which is in the final week of its regular season, in three-pointers.
But he was not the only Hendricks achieving success on the basketball court this year.
His son, Jaylen Hendricks, helped his Mainland Youth basketball team go undefeated during the regular season and capture three tournament championships, including Absecon’s annual Marsh Madness.
Jaylen is 10 years old with big hoop dreams, often joining his father at the JCC for 5:30am workouts. “I’ve always told him if you want it bad enough work as hard as you can,” said Dashawn.
Coaches have had some things to say about Jaylen.
John Franchini: “Jaylen is the best 4th grade basketball player I have ever seen. He has an amazing non-dominant hand, which he developed through relentless work and practice. But my favorite thing about him is that he is never scared of the moment. He has a confidence in his game and he makes his teammates better. He has a very high basketball IQ and he understands the game in a way that is well beyond his years. I could not be prouder of him!”
T. John Casiello: “Jaylen plays the game beyond his years. When I see him train I see a kid that is focused and locked in on being the next great player from South Jersey. His footwork is excellent, he is a ‘demonstrate it once and have it’ type player. I have also had the opportunity seeing him on court at the CYBL. He, as a 4th grader, was able to keep his team in games and hit big shot after big shot to always give his team a chance even if they were overpowered in the 5/6 Division. Keep an eye on Jaylen, he is going to be special.
Tori Cavalieri: “Jaylen is a special talent. Big time scorer. All his hard work definitely showed this season. I was even more impressed with how respectful he is. Always came right up to me and little Tory to say hello. His future is very bright on and off the court.”
Michael Lowenstein: “Jaylen is a determined young man who excels on both ends of the floor. His work ethic and determination are extraordinary. He possesses great skill and speed for a young man his age. He has willingness to compete on both ends of the floor and makes others around him better players. He’s a pleasure to coach”
Shaun Slattery: “Jaylen’s work ethic is one you would expect to see in a professional athlete, not a 10 year old. His commitment to getting better and expanding his game knows no limits. His ability to control his emotions on the court is impressive for his age, as well. Through the ebbs and flows of the game, he stays even keeled and not afraid to make the big play or take the big shot. He’s very coachable and knowledgeable about the game and just commands the court.”
Jaylen currently plays AAU basketball for South Jersey Premier and also plays football and baseball. But, most importantly, he knows from his father that academics come first.
It seems like basketball is progressing from one generation to the next among the Hendricks family.