On the eve of Columbus Brookhaven's pursuit of a second state championship, OhioPrepScene had an opportunity to sit down with big Jamelle Cornley, a 6'5 power forward from Columbus. OPS caught up to Jamelle and his mother, Dorci Smith, as they cheered on the younger Cornley, Javon, at a local basketball tournament. OPS asked Jamelle and his mother a number of questions about subjects ranging from Jamelle's thoughts about the Late Bruce Howard-Brookhaven's former and legendary coach, to the recent eligibility problems experienced by some of his peers.
Presently, Jamelle's focus is on reaching the state finals and avenging last years disappointing loss to Cincinnati Moeller. After the loss in the state championship last year, Jamelle promised himself that he would return. Despite the loss of the late Bruce Howard, Jamelle likes Brookhaven's chances of returning the state finals. Jamelle admits that this season has been marked by major adjustments without Howard, but he has confidence in Coach Robinson and his staff. Jamelle believes that Cincinnati Moeller and Cincinnati LaSalle are the teams to beat if he intends to get his second championship ring. OPS asked Jamelle who he thought were some of the better high school players and he listed several, including: Travis Walton; Ben Raymond; Jacob Diebler; Nate Miller; Greg Garrett; and Johnny Wolf.
Although none of his favorite schools have offered, several major D-1 programs have shown serious interest in Jamelle, including Michigan, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Xaiver and Ohio State. Right now, Tommy Amaker and Michigan have shown the most interest, and he and his staff have attend some of Brookhaven's practices and games. Despite his Columbus, Ohio roots, and Ohio State's contentious rivalry with "the team up north," Jamelle describes Michigan as his early favorite. Unlike Jamelle, his mother does not have a favorite school right now. In terms of the final decision on where Jamelle will attend college, his mother indicated "it will be Jamelle's choice, with me, his dad's and his coaches' guidance."
For those critics who question his height, Tommy Amaker and Michigan are not among them, Jamelle has committed himself to working hard on his parameter game this summer, while balling with Jerry Watson's All-Ohio summer basketball program on the AAU circuit. Jamelle has been invited to both the Nike All-American and Adidas Superstar All-American Camps but plans to attend the Nike Camp where he intends to improve upon his limited showing last summer. Jamelle admits that his camp experience last year fail short of expectations and he attributed his performance to a persistent wrist injury and back-to-back-to-back tournaments during the three weeks preceding the Nike Camp.
Although AAU basketball has many critics, and often gets a bad rap because of a handful of bad coaches, Jamelle and his mother are both avid supporters of summer basketball. Jamelle believes AAU basketball provides him with the opportunity to test his game against the best players in the country, and Dorci Smith likes the summer season because she is able to renew old friendships that have formed over the many years on the summer tournament trail. Also, Jamelle's mother made it clear that is she loves sports of all kind with basketball being her favorite, and "its helps that Jamelle and Javon are into basketball."
When asked about the concept of the student-athlete, like most of us, Jamelle is disappointed with the number of young athletes who slack off in the classroom and run into eligibility problems. Jamelle attributes academic problems to a "lack of self-motivation." Jamelle and his mother want everyone know that he is as focused on in the classroom as he is on the court, and boasts of a current GPA of 3.5, which he has maintained since 9th grade. What people don't know about Jamelle, a self-described "math fanatic," is the fact that his favorite subject is math. Jamelle likes math because he is good with numbers and equations.
We spoke with Jamelle about his initial experience with football last season-it was the first time he had ever played football at any level-and his plans for his senior year. Although Jamelle's was sidelined with a groin injury that ended his season prematurely, he has not ruled out a return to the gridiron next season. Jamelle's plans for football hinge on wether he receives a basketball scholarship offer or not. If he commits to a school for basketball he will play football his senior season. If he does not commit to a school he plans to concentrate on basketball.
As many people know, during his freshman and sophomore seasons Jamelle was more of a role player on the state championship and runner-up teams that included current University of Oklahoma players, Drew Lavender and Brandon Foust. Although Drew and Brandon are freshmen at Oklahoma now, Jamelle is not a die-hard Oklahoma fan. However he enjoys watching Oklahoma play on television so he can keep up with his former teammate's progress. Jamelle keeps in regular contact with Drew and Brandon and is already being warned about the rigors of major college basketball and the importance of staying focused.
Jamelle's parents are active in his life both on and off the basketball court. Jamelle's mother pushes him to excel in sports and the classroom while his father Hank Cornley, himself a former high school and college basketball star, is one of the major driving forces behind his basketball career. Also, Jamelle's mother let us in on a little secret; Jamelle, one of the toughest high school players to come along in years, has a softer side his opponents never get a chance to see. Apparently, big bad Jamelle Cornley, who some have compared to P.J. Tucker of the University of Texas, enjoys tutoring area youth in math. With his free time, Jamelle tutors 4th and 5th graders at Maize Elementary School in Columbus, where he has the opportunity to interact with young people. In addition to tutoring, Jamelle is the president of a local mentoring club and was selected as the Brookhaven African-American Male_________________
Jamelle's favorite athlete is Shaq but he models his post game after Charles Barkley, another undersized big man who was strong down low. Jamelle's immediate goals include a second state championship with Brookhaven. However, in five years Jamelle sees himself in the NBA or playing professional basketball, possibly overseas. As a words of advise to young basketball players, Jamelle recommends hard work and establishing realistic goals. On the more personal note, Jamelle's favorite musical artist is Snoop Dog. His favorite CD is Jay Z. His favorite food is chicken wings, and if he had the opportunity to spend an evening with someone famous, he would choose Kobe Bryant. OPS would like to thank Jamelle and Dorci for giving our readers some insight in the life of this gentle giant. We will also continue to follow his career, his pursuit of another state championship, and his dreams of playing basketball at the next level.