BOYS BASKETBALL: It’s all in the ‘J’: Jaden, Jamal, Jamyus, Jaric, Jomard, Jyson part of Titans’ title chase

Published 1:37 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Each ‘J’ has his own story.

Jomard Valsin is a college football prospect whose first love growing up was basketball. Jyson Butler has proven to be a consistent threat off the Port Arthur Memorial bench from three-point range … and he has a twin brother, Jaric.

Jamal Dorsey will play college football as well, but his high school journey started with Jamyus Jones at Sabine Pass. And Jaden Conner is the only junior ‘J’ on the Titans.

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The other five ‘J’s’ are seniors, part of a senior class of nine who’ve guided Memorial (32-5) to its first state semifinal appearance in school history.

“I’m glad I came here,” Jones said after the Titans’ UIL 5A Region III win over Fort Bend Elkins last Saturday. “I love all my teammates. We work every day in practice. We’re just great. I’m so happy, I don’t even know what to say.”

Jones, who had 19 points in that win, has been the most notable addition to the Titans, starting a majority of games at the point and showing a penchant for attacking the rim against bigger defenders.

Teammate Thailan Wesley was excited about Jones’ return to the school district.

“We all grew up together, so it was great to get Jamyus back,” Wesley said.

Dorsey and Jones were teammates when Sabine Pass last won a basketball playoff game in 2016, defeating Zavalla in a 2A bi-district game. Dorsey then transferred to Memorial and Jones remained for his junior year, scoring 55 points in a bi-district loss to Lufkin Pineywoods.

In his first home game at Memorial, Jones netted 33 points in a win over Houston Scarborough.

Both agree Memorial has given them a better experience with basketball.

“Memorial really helped us with our game and stuff like that,” said Dorsey, a reserve forward and tight end committed to Texas Wesleyan. “It really prepared us for the next level.”

Valsin transferred to Memorial from Kelly for his junior year. He was named The News’ Defensive Player of the Year in December as a linebacker and has committed to Northwestern State.

The playoff run has renewed Valsin’s fervor for basketball, though.

“It kind of came back since I’ve been around,” said Valsin, a starting forward who had at one point considered giving up basketball to focus on his football career.

“It kind of crossed my mind, but it’s kind of keeping me in shape, too, as far as the running is concerned,” he said.

Conner has seen significant playing time as a wing player on a senior-laden team. He’s had nine guys, at least, to learn from in his varsity career.

“I learned what it takes to get the right to play in the state championship,” Conner said. “Teamwork and communication go with it, and being a leader.”

One of the biggest questions looming over the semifinals is whether Jyson Butler can play Thursday night despite suffering a knee injury against Fort Bend Elkins in last Saturday’s Region III final. A diagnosis for Butler’s injury was not available.

“He’s a big role for the team,” Jaric Butler said. “So it would be big [if he could play].”

On and off the court, many confuse Jaric with Jyson. Jaric, who wears No. 11, has a much shorter haircut than Jyson, No. 5.

“I get on the court, and they think I’m Jyson,” Jaric said. “They expect me to do the same thing [he does].”

Together, the six ‘J’s’ will gain the experience of playing under Texas’ brightest basketball lights in the 25-year-old Alamodome, one of the state’s man-made wonders.

“Just trying to go out with a dub [W for win] and be the first class to go to state at Memorial,” Jaric Butler said. “We want to go out with a bang.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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