No such thing as sleeping in for Plant hoops standout Frazier



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Mon. July 19, 2010 | Joey Knight | Email

TAMPA — Father and son again have beaten daybreak to the Harbour Island Athletic Club.

On one half of a spotless gym floor surrounded on three sides by tall, thick glass, 16-year-old Michael Frazier commences his half-hour shooting workout. He darts from the low block, takes a bounce pass from his dad, pivots toward the basket and takes one short jumper after another.

The elder Frazier, also named Michael, stands on the right wing, just beyond the 3-point line. As soon as the son can retrieve the ball and get it out to his dad, Michael Sr. flicks it back to the oldest of his six children. This brisk cycle will continue for more than a dozen jumpers.

It’s 5:58 a.m.

“I have a will that I won’t be stopped,” Michael Antonio Frazier II later says. “And whatever I have to do so that I won’t be stopped, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll put in whatever work I have to.”

Before this workout concludes, Frazier, entering his junior year at Plant, will hoist roughly 200 shots and prove repeatedly why he’s the most prolific scorer in Hillsborough County.

At one stretch, he’ll drain seven consecutive 3s from the left baseline, then sink 20 of 32 treys from the left wing. His sleeveless gray City of Tampa Championships shirt is beginning to darken with sweat when he hits 10 consecutive 3s from the right baseline.

“Yeah, well, I practice a lot (at that spot), so I can’t really help it,” he says.

Six days a week during the school year, the two Fraziers will make the five-minute drive from their South Tampa home to this spacious two-story facility. It probably would be seven, but the elder Michael — senior pastor at First United Methodist Church of Tampa — is busy Sunday mornings.

So they go Sunday evenings instead.

“He’s pretty disciplined about doing it,” said Michael Sr., once a U.S. Army captain who fought in Desert Storm. “A lot of mornings he’ll knock on my door saying ‘I’m ready.’ But I’m already up.”

Fact is, few waking moments exist when Frazier — the county’s first boy to eclipse 1,000 points as a sophomore — isn’t crafting his sleek game punctuated by a cotton-soft shooting touch that accounted for a 26.7-point average last season.

Endowed with fleetness and physical upside (6-4, 185 pounds), Frazier also led Plant in rebounding (7.8 rpg) and steals (40) as a 10th-grader. Barring something unforeseen, he has an outside crack at the county’s all-time scoring mark (2,540 points) held by Plant City’s Russell Evans.

More than a dozen Division I programs, including Florida, USF, FSU, UCF, Miami, Michigan and Virginia Tech, have made oral offers. Others are sure to follow, if Frazier can slow down long enough to listen.

Three times a week, he lifts weights for an hour with a personal trainer. There’s also homework (Frazier got straight A’s last semester), practice and games with the Panthers, as well as a congested offseason schedule with Florida Elite AAU.

Four hours after this Thursday morning workout, Frazier played in a semifinal of the Best of the South, a prestigious AAU tournament at Plant. A couple of hours later, he helped guide his team to victory in the final.

“A regular (morning) workout is a lot tougher,” said Plant coach Mike Phillips, who himself has shuttled Frazier to Harbour Island a time or two.

“He is sweaty, every shot is coming off screens, and it’s like you’ve got to make 10 shots here, then you’ve got to shoot free throws before you get to the next segment, and everything is footwork. You did not see the workout he does. He goes a lot harder than he did.”

The sun is starting to creep above Harbour Island as the Fraziers exit the facility shortly after 6:30. The younger Michael will head home, devour a bowl of Frosted Flakes, then rest before his AAU game. At this rate, it would seem, burnout is possible.

Michael II defiantly dismisses that notion, as if to suggest LeBron James sooner would be voted mayor of Cleveland.

“I love it,” he says. “I do it and I can’t wait to do it the next day.”

Staff writer Joey Knight can be reached at jknight@sptimes.com

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