— Story by Taylor Kennedy
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Players all across the country and across the state of West Virginia have been dealing with trying to send fresh content to recruiters to try and make it to the collegiate level.
J.C. Maxwell, a Class A all-state member, will be going into his fourth and final season at Wheeling Central Catholic. Maxwell is trying to make the most of it despite not yet having played a game in his senior year.
“It has been a struggle. I had coaches starting to talk to me last year just to start building a relationship. They told me that they would get back into it once everything went back to normal, and as everything keeps going on nothing has gone back to normal. I cannot go visit anywhere nor can I talk to the coaches in-person,” said Maxwell.
Neighboring states have begun their respected winter seasons. Some are reaching the end and getting close to playoff time. Maxwell sees that as a bad thing for West Virginia athletes wanting to pursue the next level.
“With West Virginia getting pushed back, Pennsylvania and Ohio are both playing. It is like putting us West Virginia athletes behind everyone else. Coaches can watch kids from the states around us, but cannot get to watch us. It has been difficult in that aspect,” said Maxwell.
When players have an impressive game or make a highlight play, they will put that content into one big montage to send to coaches. Since Maxwell has not had the chance to get senior highlights, he has been reporting back to old footage.
“I try to get my junior year tape out. Whenever coaches talk to me, I have a few specific games if they want game film. I ask my coaches to send those games out. Working wise, I have been with my trainer, Boyd Bibey. He talks to coaches and has connections around here,” said Maxwell.
Once college student-athletes step off campus, some have a small percentage to make the professional level. Those that do not make the big leagues are usually hit with student debt. Maxwell is more focused on making sure that he finds a college that once he leaves he and his family are not dealing with too many financial troubles.
“My main goal is to have myself, student loan wise, paid to the least amount I can and also for my parents,” said Maxwell. “I would be grateful for the opportunity to play four more years.”
Maxwell finished last season averaging 14 points per game on 58% shooting from the field, and he averaged six rebounds and three assists per game. Maxwell says that being in the gym every day will help grow his game leading into his senior season.
“I have been training almost every day. We do stuff that translates into games so that helps with staying in basketball shape. I have been running in open gyms to be able to get up and down. Also, I have been doing some lifting and running on my own. I have been trying to do as much as possible,” said Maxwell.
Players will improve in different areas of their game. Some will improve on their jump shots, and others will focus on shooting better from the free-throw line. Maxwell is more focused on being a leader for his team.
“I think the biggest thing I want to improve in is being a leader. This is my fourth year being on varsity, and I understand that everyone on the team is going to look to me to lead. My trainer is telling me to be more of a vocal leader. That is the biggest thing for me. I want to be that person on the team that everybody looks to. I have to put that weight on my shoulders and try and lead my team to a win every night and hope for a state championship,” said Maxwell.
Senior leaders are having to get their team refocused on what needs to be accomplished. It has been more difficult during the pandemic to see each other. Maxwell has been making sure his team is concentrated by connecting through their smartphones.
“We have a big group chat of practically everyone in the program. Being a leader you have to be consistent and a little annoying with people. You have to get on them every day telling them that they need to show up and hold them accountable if they do not show up. When we are together, I have to be the one that we have to be focused, work hard, and be ready,” said Maxwell.
Maxwell currently holds interests from a variety of colleges including Wheeling University, Concord, Shepherd, Davis & Elkins, Washington & Jefferson, West Virginia Wesleyan, Ohio Christian, and Ohio Dominican.
Wheeling Central will begin their 2021 season on the road at Charleston Catholic on March 5th.