DJ Jamerson balances his high school life like he has been doing it for years. He knows the best time to get his homework done is during study hall and his afternoons are spent focusing on the basketball court.
Jamerson, who attends Stanhope Elmore, seems to have it down to an art so it’s hard able to tell this is his first time balancing high school life with basketball in the United States.
But it is.
Jamerson and his family moved to the country last May when his mother got reassigned to Maxwell Air Force Base but Jamerson has taken it all in stride.
“Honestly, it was not that big of a problem for me,” Jamerson said. “I’m used to moving a lot. I have had to build a relationship with new teammates. I’m used to meeting people with different talents to make sure that I can merge my talents with theirs.”
During his short time at Stanhope, Jamerson has made an impact in the classroom and on the basketball team. It did not take long for the Mustangs to realize the talent that fell into their lap when they needed it the most.
Stanhope coach Terry Hardy graduated a bulk of his team from last season and needed to find a go-to player. Jamerson may not be there just yet but he has provided flashes all season, leading the Mustangs in scoring from the start.
“They are starting to grow a little bit together,” Hardy said. “I need a leader who will rise up and say put this game on my back. He’s merging into that but we’re still looking for someone to take it over. We’re close.”
Jamerson quickly showed off his skills when he won the MVP at the Montgomery Academy Tipoff Classic in December, leading the Mustangs to the championship. Jamerson has continued with big games throughout the season and he said he’s enjoying the new experiences basketball in Alabama has given him.
“This feels amazing,” Jamerson said. “This is the first time I have played basketball in America so the energy feels so different. The adrenaline rush you get when you get the crowd and the team get excited, you want to do it again. It feels amazing.”
The Mustangs turned to Jamerson again Monday night for a big game against Class 6A powerhouse Carver. Jamerson was up against one of his biggest tests, squaring off with Rayquan Taylor, one of the few players who can match Jamerson’s length at 6-foot-7.
“That makes me want to work harder,” Jamerson said. “I don’t get intimidated by that because I know it’s going to make me better.”
Stanhope did not get the victory but Jamerson tallied 21 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. Jamerson spent plenty of time in the paint on defense but most of his offense came from the outside where he knocked down four 3-pointers.
Hardy wants Jamerson to keep his shot from the outside but he also wants the Mustangs to take advantage of the height they have by getting into the paint.
“He’s still young and he’s new to this type of basketball,” Hardy said. “He has all the skills but he just has to get comfortable. He can shoot but sometimes he needs to get aggressive and get to the basket. That’s what I keep telling him: You don’t want him to keep settling for those shots. It’s easier to make it from 4 feet than it is from 32 feet.”
Jamerson said he has always had to adjust to the style of play around him and his experiences around the world have helped him do that. Jamerson has played in Japan and Korea with travel ball teams while thriving with his outside jumper. Now, he wants to help his team wherever it needs him.
“I feel like I can usually balance those,” Jamerson said. “When I feel like I have that jump shot and I get that ball, I’m going to knock it down. I’m confident in my jump shot but I like the challenge of working in the paint. It brings another side of the game to me.”