Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Jack Fleming lifts Jesuit High's basketball team

TAMPA — Jack Fleming darts across the baseline and cuts behind a screen, working his way out to the elbow of the three-point arc.

The 6-foot-5 Jesuit High junior receives the pass and jab-steps to the right, opening up just enough space between him and the defender. Fleming then squares up and rises, releasing a perfectly rotating ball toward the goal.

Swish.

That's the sound opponents are all too familiar with this season thanks to Fleming's three-point prowess. Fleming has knocked down 86 three-point goals, breaking the school mark previously held by James Bunn (78).

"He deserves all of the accolades he's getting," Jesuit coach Neal Goldman said. "The kid just works so hard."

Fleming's treys have come in an avalanche this year for the Tigers, who travel to Lake Wales Saturday for a region final game against the state's No. 1 team in Class 5A.

"I don't think about the record," Fleming said. "It's not something that I concern myself with it. I just want to keep helping this team."

Most all of Fleming's quotes tend to include the word "team." Although he has garnered a lot of attention on a squad that has lost just once — to Los Angeles Loyola in a holiday tournament — the soft-spoken Fleming routinely defers to his teammates.

"If I'm hitting threes then that's helping this team win and that's all I care about," he said. "I just want to do whatever it takes to get this team to Lakeland."

Goldman said Fleming, who scored a career-best 29 points in the Tigers' region quarterfinal win against Boca Ciega, works as hard on the practice court as he does avoiding the spotlight.

"He works his tail off and has a great work ethic," Goldman said. "Jack works harder than anyone that I've ever had here."

In Fleming fashion, Jesuit's sharpshooter had just a one-word answer regarding how many threes he takes in practice.

"A lot," he said.

Goldman chuckled when asked about Fleming's low-key, team-first approach.

"I'm surprised he said as many words as he did," he said.

But Fleming and his teammates' actions on the court have spoken volumes. Fleming and Nick Medich give the Tigers a solid wing combination, with Travis Johnson providing a potent post presence. Joey Galvis gives Jesuit another shooter from beyond the arc while Devin Harris' ability to penetrate makes the Tigers a well-rounded bunch.

In a 63-53 region semifinal win against Robinson on Tuesday, four of the five starters reached double digits in points.

"This is all about the right here and right now," Goldman said. "We're confident and feel we can compete with anybody. This is right where we want to be."

Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]

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Published: 02/24/18