Playing on the up n’ up or on the down low


Photo by Adin Halbfinger, LT

Boys varsity basketball player Sam Sharp brings the ball down the court in a game against Melvin J. Berman Academy on Jan. 29, 2022. This was CESJDS’s second game of the season against their rivals, which they won 48-41.

Simon Albert, Reporter

It doesn’t take the audience long to spot the six feet, seven inch giant wearing number 24 on the court. As excitement grows in anticipation for junior Ben Bass’s performance, fans might disregard the other players on the court.

“People definitely overlook me a lot solely based on my height and sometimes [they] don’t even look at my skill or how I play on the court,” sophomore Sam Sharp said. 

Sharp’s height of five feet, five inches never stopped him from pursuing the sport, this year for the high school varsity team.

Sharp’s love for basketball first started at two years old when he would play with his parents, yet his passion truly developed at five years old when he started playing on a little league team. Although he tried other sports growing up, he was drawn to the thrill of basketball.

CESJDS’s average height is a stark contrast to the average height of other high school basketball stars. According to MaxPreps, the Richardson Eagles from Texas are the best high school basketball team in the country. The players on that team have an impressive average height of six foot, three inches as opposed to the average height of the CESJDS varsity team: five feet, nine inches. 

“It is obviously discouraging playing a sport that is towards my disadvantage, but at the same time I feel like me being so small gives me an advantage and gives me motivation to work as hard as I do,” Sharp said. “Being small, I will always be in the same position and I will always have things I need to work on because I will always be the point guard.”

A point guard’s abilities are especially evident while on offense, as they serve as a facilitator for running plays. Speed and coordination are essential to this position, and it is often played by someone of a shorter height. Being tall, on the other hand, sets players up for major advantages in other positions. 

Bass occupies the center position for the boys varsity team, which requires him to take layups, get rebounds and block opponents’ shots. Bass uses his height to his advantage as it allows him to easily get the ball and bring him closer to the net. 

“You play either the most exciting or the most boring role and sometimes for me it’s more boring because you don’t really do much other than grab the ball, sprint, grab the ball, sprint, so that can be boring,” Bass said. “But it can also be fun and exhilarating when you grab the ball a lot of times.” 

Although Bass’ height is typical for an NBA player, it comes with an assumption that sometimes can put a lot of pressure and be disheartening for taller players. The assumption is that being tall equates to playing well. 

“Based on my height, everyone is like ‘Oh so you are really good,’ just off the bat so you have to do X, Y and Z,” Bass said. “Sometimes I’m not ready for X, Y and Z, I am only ready for X and Y or Y and Z.”

Both Sharp and Bass play essential roles on the team and despite their height differences, they contribute in different and important ways. They both agree on the character of a good player and what it really takes to play well. 

“I think the main things you need [in order] to be successful in basketball are having a passion…and are willing to work as hard as you can. Then you can be just as good and get to whatever level you really want to get to,” Sharp said. “If you really, really want it and you are willing to make sacrifices to become better at it, then there is a place for you on the court.”