As a junior at Northwest High School, Charles James was a high throttle guard. After breaking his ankle, he’s throttled down, but never shut off.
After battling back from the injury, James played out his senior year with hesitancy and caution, never even driving to the hoop.
He’s now in his first year of play at St. Louis Community College, James feels better, but still notices a gap in physical strength.
“I’d say I’m about 80 percent,” James said. “I’m still a little hesitant about going inside. Sometimes I’ll see a gap and pass it up.”
The missing 20 percent James no longer obtains isn’t a subject of worry for coach Terry Collins. It’s an intangible trait, rendering it almost useless for the 30-year-old junior college coach.
“You really can’t put a percentage on it,” Collins said. “You’re always just guessing if you try and do that. Any time you go through any severe injury the road back will always be very difficult.”
Dealing strictly in facts, James has lost much of the speed and quickness he used to take pride in and although the quickness is starting to come back, the speed may be gone for good.
“If I’m being a realist, I’m not sure I’ll ever see the player he was in high school,” Collins said. “I can’t say that at any point in time I’m thinking he’ll be able to do this or that because I never got to see him play at his peak.”
Another obstacle standing in the way of James returning to his peak is the transition in the level of competition.
“It’s also important to remember that he’s playing in college now,” Collins said. “He’s playing against better players that he was in high school.”
For James, the fact that he’s a different, slower player is hard to grasp and often leads him to feel like he’s playing against his past instead of the opposing team.
“A lot of times I feel like I just need to make something happen,” James said. “When that happens I’ll try to push it too far.”
Even though James struggles to accept the possibility that he may never be the same, he has begun working on other aspects of his game to make himself as valuable has he was..
“I’ve been trying to work on my outside shot a lot more now to make more space that way,” James said. “I also never lifted or anything before that happened.”
James still has a season left as an Archer, but still thinks of life beyond STLCC and hopes it includes basketball.
As for now, James wants his team to look at him as a leader, continuing to work to be the starting point guard he knows he is capable of being.
Whether or not his speed, confidence in cutting to the rim or quickness ever fully return, it’s the competitive drive and unrelenting will to continue that makes James a valued member of Collins’ STLCC basketball team.
Article by: Walker Van Wey – Lindenwood University and you can find him on Twitter @Walker_VanWey