2005 Focus: B.J. Raymond

B.J. Raymond never figured he'd be considered the top junior in the state of Ohio. Mostly, it was because he never figured he'd be staying in Ohio long enough for people to know who he is.

When B.J. Raymond went to visit his grandmother eight years ago, he had no clue that it would be permanent.

``My sister and I came down from Boston with my mom and she wanted us to stay longer," the Toledo St. John's junior recalls. "We were down here for the first day of school and it was so spontaneous. She gave us pens and pencils right out of her pocketbook to go to class."

``She said we were only going to go to school in Toledo for a week so we didn't miss too much school back in Boston," he added. "I'm still waiting for that week to be over with. She was thinking that we'd go back, but my dad came out and liked it here."

The 16-year-old Raymond, who has aspirations of becoming a sports broadcaster someday if he doesn't make the NBA, has enjoyed the transition to the midwest – both on and off the court.

The 6-5 ½, 200-pound swingman, who is arguably the top player in the state of Ohio, can score in a variety of ways and finishes well. He's quick enough to get by bigger defenders and strong enough to post up smaller ones. Basically, he causes matchup problems because of his versatility and his ability to put up points from both the perimeter and in the paint. Raymond averaged 18.1 points and eight boards as a sophomore and has helped get the Titans off to a 3-0 start this season.

``I'm a scorer," Raymond said. "I like the post, but I also like to roam the baseline. Whatever it is that you want – or need – me to do, I'm going to do it."

``What makes him so special is that he's never satisfied with how hard he works," All-Ohio Red coach Sean Patterson said. "It doesn't matter where he shoots the ball – it always has a good chance to go in. He's just so smooth."

Raymond not only had to get used to making the move from Boston to Toledo, but he also made the transition where he was one of the few black students in a primarily-white school.

``It was tough," Raymond said. "I was ineligible the first half of my freshman year because it was so different than public school. I just wasn't getting good grades, but I've worked hard and I'm used to it now."

Xavier has been the most aggressive in going after Raymond and the Musketeers are the leaders for now. Raymond also mentioned Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, UConn, Kentucky, UMass, Oklahoma, Boston College, Florida, Wisconsin and Illinois.

``At first, I was thinking that I definitely want to stay in Ohio," he said. "But now I've decided that I'm just going to go to the best place that fit me – regardless of where it is."

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