‘He jumped so high it scared me’: Elijah Hughes’ unheralded athleticism

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 19, 2020 at 11:38 pm Contact Michael: mmcclear@syr.edu | @MikeJMcCleary Elijah Hughes baited his defender on the wing and cut backdoor toward the rim. It was the first day of live practice for John F. Kennedy Catholic (New York) High School in 2013, and during 3-on-3 drills head coach Al Morales was eager to unveil a 16-year-old Hughes. One who could pass like a point guard and score like a shooting guard. Two separate growth spurts led to a near overnight surge.Hughes received the pass inside and rose up. Nothing fancy: a two-handed dunk. He slammed it hard, though. Too hard. The rim burst off the backboard and sent Hughes crashing to the ground as shards of glass hailed down. Hughes felt the glass in his hair. “Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding?” Hughes frantically asked Morales.“To see it on TV is one thing,” Morales, who informed Hughes he was fine, said. “It was breathtaking.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCourtesy of Elijah Hughes’ FacebookFor years, Hughes has elevated his reputation through shooting and a strong feel for the game. But the most unheralded aspect of Hughes’ game is the athleticism that unlocks much of his arsenal. As the most experienced Syracuse (14-11, 7-7 Atlantic Coast) player, Hughes has been thrust into a role as its main offensive threat. The new role led to new expectations and new freedoms that allowed his athleticism to flourish on crossovers, quick first steps to the basket and powerful finishes at or around the rim.“I kind of always had a little boogie,” Hughes quipped in October. “I just really haven’t shown it.”At Syracuse, Hughes has flashed his athleticism with a rim-rattling dunk against Georgia Tech earlier in the season and quick bursts on drives to the rim against Florida State last Saturday. Over SU’s final stretch of the season, a hobbled Hughes will have to rely on that athleticism to carry a heavy workload for an SU team with dwindling NCAA Tournament chances.Hughes’ father, Wayne, said his son never had natural “Oh my goodness, this kid can fly” athleticism, so he learned how to dunk like most kids do: by lowering the adjustable hoop in his backyard to eight feet. Wayne and Hughes’ mother, Penny, remembered him jumping around outside every day, cocking his arm back and throwing down tomahawks and windmills. Hughes bumped it to nine feet, then messed around at regulation height.After Playmaker Academy AAU practices in the eighth grade, Hughes and his teammates stuck around to show off dunks sandwiched between multiple failed attempts. In a game later that year, Hughes’ teammate Justin Mitchell stole the ball and streaked down the court for a left-handed dunk. Hughes and his teammates erupted. No one had ever dunked in a game before. A few plays later, Hughes knocked the ball loose and did the same.“The whole team was hype,” Hughes’ then-head coach Ken Dawson said.Emily Steinberger | Design EditorFrom that point, it was “automatic,” Wayne said. Hughes parlayed his athleticism into other aspects of his game. Quick bounces on defensive plays has led him to become one of the top-15 shot-blockers in the ACC this season. He chases high after rebounds and elevates for a high release-point on layup finishes.“He jumped so high it scared me,” recalls Kelvin Jefferson, Hughes’ former South Kent (Connecticut) High School head coach.Dunk contest wins became a routine, and on Hughes’ first trip to Syracuse for the Elite Camp the Orange host each summer, he performed dunks in free time and attracted crowds, Beacon High School teacher Scott Timpano said.Kennedy Catholic teacher Brian Bruder and his son, Declan, sat in the stands at Kennedy Catholic as an 11th-grade Hughes broke away from defenders into the open court. The crowd braced for something amazing. “Appointment television,” Bruder said. Hughes unleashed a tomahawk dunk at the rim, and the crowd erupted.Bruder got home later that night and heard a thumping noise in Declan’s room. He opened the door, and Declan was jumping around, cocking back his arm and throwing down dunks into the plastic Nerf basketball hoop attached to the door.“What are you doing?” Bruder asked, laughing.The then-9-year-old Declan continued to jump around his room. He was just being a kid. And learning to dunk like Elijah Hughes. Commentslast_img read more


Athlete’s prosthetics stolen twice in recent months

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! TEMPLE CITY – Mother and daughter agree – whoever stole Melissa Huff’s two prosthetic legs this week are probably the same people who took them in November. They also think the thieves are trying, in a weird way, to get the Arcadia High School sophomore’s attention. “They’ve got her attention now,” said Lisa Huff, her mother. “Leave her alone.” The theft of Melissa’s legs has attracted widespread attention and offers of help, but Lisa Huff said their main concern is recovering the legs. Someone broke into the Huff residence Tuesday, ransacked Melissa’s room and took the legs. “They trashed her bedroom,” her mother said. “Trashed all her trophies and awards. They just threw everything everywhere. “If they have a problem with her, just talk to her,” she said. “Are they trying to get to know her? Call or come talk to her. If someone hates her, who? If you know her, you can’t hate her. “She’s overcome a lot and doesn’t need this,” she added. “She’s 16. She moved on four months after the accident. She just moved on. They need to move on, too. Let her have fun, play softball.” Melissa lost her right leg below the knee in 2003 after a car struck her while she was walking outside Arcadia High School. She had nine surgeries and went through six different prosthetic legs before finding one that fit perfectly. Lisa Huff said this time the legs appear to be the only items missing. One was a sports leg Melissa wore to play softball, valued at $16,000. The other was a cosmetic leg that cost $12,000. Friday, two large dogs patrolled the front yard of the Huff residence in the 10400 block of Olive Street. “The dogs were there,” Lisa Huff said. “They don’t stop them, they just lick them. Anyone can come over that wall. They’re not going to stop anything.” But the day after the latest burglary a security system was installed at the family home. “We’re continuing the investigation,” said Lt. Denise Harshman of the sheriff’s Temple Station. “We don’t have any leads or suspects.” Harshman declined to discuss any theories detectives may have developed. “They really don’t have anything yet,” Lisa Huff said about the investigation. “They asked her who her enemies are. They wanted to know who’s angry at her on the softball team. But she really hasn’t been out there this year.” Asked what she would say to the thieves, she said, “Leave her alone, let her live her life. She wants to have fun, she’s in high school, she plays ball. Just let her be.” She said the thefts have moved beyond pranks, and the thieves should be punished. Melissa called the situation frustrating. “But nothing stops me from what I want to do,” she said. “It’s not going to bother me.” Melissa declined to address the thieves, saying, “Wow! There’s a lot so I don’t know. There’s too much to say. I don’t want to say anything.” “She would be cussing them out,” her mother said. “Yeah, I’m angry,” Melissa said. “The fact that it was a really good sports leg that we just had bought. It was a great leg. The people who helped me (buy it) were all looking forward to watching me play softball. It’s coming up pretty soon. Now we can’t watch.” Melissa said she’s picky when it comes to the fitting process, “and the last \, we were still working on it. We were working on the mold and stuff, getting it tighter.” Melissa had surgery Jan. 13 to remove a protruding bone from her amputated leg. She was recovering from the operation, using a wheelchair or crutches, unable to use her prosthesis, when the burglary occurred. Arcadia High School softball coach Ed Andersen said Melissa, who plays first base, will serve as a coach’s assistant for the varsity team until her leg heals. “She’s a determined young woman with a very positive attitude,” he said of Melissa, who has been playing softball since she was 8. Softball season starts the first week in March. Lisa Huff said the family’s Pasadena law firm, DeWitt, Algorri & Algorri, is offering a reward for the return of the legs. Officials at the firm were not available for comment. “They can drop the leg off there,” she said, adding that would be better than facing her angry husband, David. “They’ll hand them the money, no questions asked.” There are no immediate plans, she said, to set up a fund to raise money for new legs. Charon and David Sandoval of Altadena have offered to donate $12,000 to replace Melissa’s cosmetic leg. “There are so many terrible things happening to people every day,” Charon Sandoval said. “But the idea of this young woman having this happen to her three times, including the accident, is beyond comprehension. Losing her legs for a third time is so outrageous.” emanuel.parker@sgvn.com (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4475last_img read more