Rising Star Emerges From the Hawks Nest

Justin Walters

JACKSON, Tenn. - South Side's men's basketball team was one win short of a state title last season. This year, the Hawks are back with a vengeance.

"It's motivation since we lost last year, plus it's my senior season. I'm trying to go into college with a gold ball," senior Jaylen Barford said.

The Hawks entered this year without Mr. Basketball Finalist A.J. Merriweather. South Side has a new leader now.

"Jaylen brings a presence to the team to keep us calm," head coach Damonn Fuller said. "When Jaylen is on the floor, we're pretty confident."

Barford has embraced his new role with ease. His mentality is 'whatever it takes to win'.

"If coach needs me to do something, I just do it. It can be a free throw or bucket. It don't matter to me," Barford said humbly.

At 13-1 this season, South Side is no longer under the radar. Barford doesn't mind the pressure. His only concern is making his family, coach and community proud.

"Everybody is going to make mistakes. I just try to stay humble and do my best to be me," explained the senior guard.

Barford averages nearly 20 points per game, along with seven rebounds and four assists.


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