They say that over the course of time athletes get bigger, better, stronger, and faster. That statement has been proven time and time again in our day and age. One athlete in particular that jumps out in my mind would have to be Usain Bolt of Jamaica. The sprinter has shattered some phenomenal times in the 100 meters and 200 meters and often times pulls up before the finish line and cruises to victory. While it all seems so easy for Bolt there's plenty of training and preparation that goes into becoming his sport's premier athlete.
The same can be said for one of South Carolina's very own talented athletes, Mark Blackmon of Fort Mill High School. A class of 2012 prospect Blackmon has emerged as a top flight point guard. He helped guide his team to a record this past season earning All-Region and All-State selections for his efforts. Looking to make a big splash on the recruiting radar we caught up with Blackmon for an inside look at just where things stand and what his outlook is for the future as he's the latest prospect to be featured in our "UP NEXT" series.
Not many sophomores can make the claim to be an All-State selection but the 5'10 160 pound Blackmon had an impressive campaign for Fort Mill head coach Bailey Jackson's squad. Averaging 15 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals per game Blackmon was named an All-State selection by the SCBCA in the AAAA ranks.
"I can't say that I was satisfied with what I accomplished because I felt like I could have done more to help my team achieve the main goal. I'm glad I achieved what I did though this season as a sophomore," Blackmon told us.
It's that drive and will to succeed that has defined Blackmon's success as an athlete on the hardwood and in two other sports where he also excels, cross country and track and field. It's there that Blackmon has racked up plenty of hardware to the tune of six state titles. Keep in mind that Blackmon is still just a sophomore.
We asked Blackmon to talk about what events he's won those state titles in during his illustrious yet still growing career.
"I have won state titles in the mile, 800 meter dash, and cross country state championships. I feel like they have helped me to be able to go longer than everyone else on the basketball court."
Given his success on the track and as a cross country runner Blackmon indeed is starting to parlay that success onto the basketball court. We also asked Blackmon to break his game down for us in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Here's what he had to say.
"I think my biggest strengths are my quickness, defense, and perimeter shooting. This offseason I want to improve on my overall strength, mid-range shooting ability, and my off the dribble shooting."
Currently Blackmon sees himself a scoring point guard but he's working hard to develop into a pass first point guard.
Blackmon and his Fort Mill squad saw plenty of talented teams this past season but one in particular stood out in his mind, the Gaffney Indians.
"I would say that one of the toughest teams we faced this season is Gaffney because of their star shooting guard Josh Corry and their point guard Dershawn Dawkins." As many hoops fans know the Indians went on to win the AAAA state championship this season.
"Josh Corry was a tough competitor just because of his all around ability on the court. He is a smart and athletic player. The next toughest was Dershawn Dawkins because of his ability to create off the dribble and get into the lane."
It was against the state champion Indians that he had his best game of the season.
"My best game was against Gaffney. They were ranked #2 in the state at the time and we were on the road. I had 27 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals. The thing that made it so memorable was that we beat them and we had a lead the whole game, but on top of that it was their first home loss in two years."
With AAU play just on the horizon Blackmon isn't quite sure as to who he'll be running with this coming season. "Last season I played with Team Phoenix. I am not sure who I am playing AAU with this year. There are two teams in the mix, Team Charlotte or Team United. We will be participating in some events like Knoxvegas Heat Tournament down in Knoxville TN, Super Showcase, King James Shootout, Peach Jam, and al ot more showcase tournaments just to get a little more exposure."
Being such a multitalented athlete things will start to get interesting for Blackmon when it comes to recruiting. Schools will begin clamoring for position as he'll be recruited for all three sports. We have a quick breakdown of the sports and schools Mark has already gained interest from below:
Although his recruitment is just starting Blackmon identified schools that he's most looking forward to hearing from more in the very near future for basketball as North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Michigan State.
Stay tuned to SCPrepNation.com as we'll have some video highlights of Blackmon in action from his sophomore season on the hardwood courtesy of SCPrepNationTV.
INTERESTING FUN FACT: Blackmon says he tries to pattern his game after two former NBA stars who were dynamic scoring point guards, Isiah Thomas and Tim Hardaway.