2006 Focus: Damion James

While many high school coaches feed into the egos of their star players, Nacogdoches High (Texas) head man Mark Richardson is different with junior forward Damion James.

Imagine Damion James on the baseball diamond as a lanky, athletic centerfielder chasing down fly balls or as a closer bearing down on the hitter throwing in the 90s.

It won't happen. Not anymore.

Now James is strictly a basketball player – and an elite one.

The 6-8, 220-pound junior at Nacogdoches High (Texas), who remains a big-time baseball fan, is averaging 25 points and 16 boards so far this season. However, Nacogdoches coach Mark Richardson said his star still hasn't even scratched the surface of his potential this season.

``He's a terrific versatile player," Richardson said. "He's not in a rhythm yet. He's playing a little too fast right now and hurrying himself. He needs to settle down a little more. For most kids, 25 or 30 points is a big game. He gets that in a slow night. I expect to see a 60-point game before the season is over."

James can score from nearly anywhere on the floor. He's a good rebounder, runs the floor extremely well for someone his size and also alters shots on the defensive end. He'll still need to improve the consistency on his outside shot and also work on his footwork in order to be able to guard wing players.

One thing is for certain. While some high school coaches will tell their star players how good they are, Richardson is tough on James.

``Tough ain't the word," James said. "He's way past that."

Prior to last April while playing with the Texas Blue Chips at the Pearland and Kingwood Classics, James wasn't really on the national radar. Now he's established himself as one of the top frontcourt guys in the junior class.

James is getting plenty of attention from colleges throughout the country, but he mentioned that he wants to remain close enough for his family and friends to watch him play. His top five reads Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas.

``They're all about the same. I don't know right now," James said.

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