Jamal Edmonson dreams about college basketball. He sees himself playing for the UCLA Bruins, a team steeped with tradition and national championships.
Big dreams for a kid still in middle school. But Edmonson isn't your average eighth-grader.
Edmonson is a starter on the Stall High School varsity basketball team. The 14-year-old is averaging 16 points and nine rebounds a game. At 6-4 and 200 pounds, he's easy to spot among his classmates at Jerry Zucker Middle School.
Edmonson was named the seventh-best power forward for the Class of 2018 at the Future 150 Camp in Atlanta. He was the seventh-best overall prospect at the Junior All-American Camp also held in Atlanta. And he plays for the Nike South Carolina Stampede AAU team, which goes up against some of the best teams in the nation.
Now, about that UCLA dream. Edmonson's father, Randy, played for Cal-Irvine and the family still has relatives in California.
"My grandma worked at Southern Cal, and I would always tease her that I was going to play crosstown at UCLA," Edmonson said. "It was a joke at first, but now I'm hoping it becomes reality."
Edmonson played for his middle school team last year. His father called Stall coach Jeff Emory prior to this season to see if Edmonson could try out for the high school team.
"His dad told me he was a little bored playing at that level," said Emory, who is in his first year as the boys coach after spending four years coaching the girls team. "His dad wanted him to have something a little more challenging."
Edmonson earned a spot on the varsity squad, which is 8-7 heading into Friday's game at James Island.
"He uses his body well," Emory said. "A lot of people are surprised how well he handles the ball, but he does a great job with it in open space. He knows how to play basketball."
Edmonson works hard in practice and plays in more than 100 basketball games a year. He knows there is pressure that comes with showing so much potential at a young age. He also knows how to block out in the paint and block out the distractions.
"I don't listen to what people say," Edmonson said. "The main thing is that I get my work done - my homework, practice and games. If you don't do the work, you don't get anything."
Edmonson, nicknamed "The Kid," has shown maturity on the court and in the classroom. He's on the honor roll and says he'll stay focused on academics when he enters high school.
And before he knows it, it will be off to college. Edmonson's dream is to go from coast to coast. In the meantime, he'll enhance his image on the national stage - and at Stall High School.
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