Love at first shot
Basketball runs in the family
April 14, 2022
It’s all part of a story that started when he was a toddler.
“My parents just put a little stuffed basketball in my hands,” Zayden said, “and I’ve loved the game ever since.”
It would have been hard not to – his dad Mike played small forward and center at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla.
“Where I’m from, small town Hereford, Texas, being 6 foot 3 you’re a post player… but when you get to college it’s a little bit different because you have 7 footers,” Mike said. “So they groomed me and made the best of it, and I played 3-5 in college similar to what Z is doing, but he handles the ball way better than I did.”
Zayden followed his dad to the gym where he asked questions and took advice.
“It took him a while to realize his old man knew basketball,” Mike said, “but now he realizes I might know a little bit.”
Mike also gives credit to uncle Ty Ellis (professional player and coach) for Zayden’s foot work, David Jones for shooting and Lupe Nunez for the challenge. On top of that, Zayden’s current AAU coach John Lucas also pushes Zayden as a player and a person.
“Really his success on the the court is a true testament to how hard he was willing to work, and how determined he was to prove to himself he belonged,” Mike said. “His mom and I really put the resources in-front of him and never pushed too hard to where he would burn out. We let him chose what direction in sports he would take. He played football as well as baseball for some time. He finally chose the sport that just came natural to him.”