VJHS’ Council headed to elite hoops camp

Published 9:03 am Thursday, May 5, 2016

So far, 2016 has been a good year for Vicksburg Junior High’s Nicholaus Council.

His basketball team won the eighth-grade boys’ Little Six Championship in January, which capped a 16-1 season. He scored 15 points against Pearl Middle School en route to the championship and continues to improve his talents.

The latest highlight is an invitation to the John Lucas International Middle School Combine, a prestigious two-day camp held Saturday and Sunday in Spring, Texas. The invitation-only camp is for advanced seventh- and eighth-grade boys basketball players who want to develop their game from a former NBA coach and No. 1 pick, and his staff of former professional and collegiate players.

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“The first thing I was trying to figure out was how I got selected. Then, once it sunk into my head, I was like ‘I’m one of the best players in Mississippi because it seems like I’m the only one who got invited,” Council said. “I was really excited about it.”

Campers will spend the weekend listening to guest speakers, receiving evaluations and playing five competitive games in front of voters from the McDonald’s All-American committee.

“John Lucas is like the biggest name in basketball camps as far as being discovered is concerned,” said Terry Council, Nicholaus’ father.

Terry Council met a representative from Middle School Hoops TV — a website dedicated to showcasing prominent basketball talents of the future — at a camp in Jackson and alerted him about Nicholaus.

“He looked at him and saw him and (said) he thinks (Nicholaus) could play on a national level,” Terry said.

The conversation proved fruitful as word spread from Middle School Hoops to those in charge at the John Lucas Camp. Terry forwarded Nicholaus’ highlight tape, along with other stats, which led to an invite to the selective camp.

Nicholaus has worked on his speed and explosiveness through incline drills and by pulling a weighted sled in preparation for the camp.

But this is simply an addition to his usual workout regimen.

Since the third grade, he’s used Vicksburg Intermediate School’s gymnasium to get shots up while working on his fundamentals, which he thanked principal Sharon Williams for extracurricular access to.

As a point guard, Nicholaus is responsible for setting up the team’s offense and evading any defensive counter from his opponent.

“It gives me more power in running the whole court and having the ball in my hands most of the time,” Nicholaus said.

From this experience he hopes to become more effective in reading defensive schemes as he transitions into more city league and high school play.

The confident, yet laid back baller was slightly taken aback by the amount of talent he’ll compete with at the Lucas camp, but slowly reassured himself in his abilities.

“I just thought about if I play hard, I have nothing to worry about because I gave it my all,” Nicholaus said.

Terry Council also hopes his son can develop a competitive edge and calls his relaxed demeanor on the court the only drawback to his game. He taught Nicholaus at an early age to not take the game so seriously and become a player who cries after a loss.

Only intense competition brings out the aggression in Nicholaus, otherwise his body language and mannerisms come off as lackadaisical. Terry said he has a tendency for “playing hard in spurts” and hopes the camp teaches his son a lesson about intensity.

“That’s exactly why I want him to go to this camp, to show him these players are not going to take it off in the playoffs,” Terry said. “This whole camp is going to teach him to bring it up a notch if he wants to be considered the best in the nation.”

Nicholaus has a support system of family to see him succeed. His main goal is to help his mother as she battles multiple sclerosis and to watch over his 3-year-old brother as he gets older.

“We just, as a family, are trying to make sure that if you don’t succeed, as far as basketball is concerned, it won’t be because you didn’t have nobody pushing you or nobody interested in what you want to do in life,” Terry said.