Even with his right arm in a cast, Jamir Moultrie can dribble two basketballs at once. If you don't believe it, see for yourself.
This is just one of the many new skills the junior from Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland mastered since having minor surgery on his shooting hand. Rather than sit on the sidelines, Moultrie is practicing every day with just his left arm, becoming just as smooth on dribbles and layups as he is with his more dominant arm. He's even developing a left-handed jump shot.
"I don't want this injury to set me back," Moultrie says. "I'm just trying to continue to get better and be able to use both hands equally."
That's a scary proposition for opposing defenders in Bishop McNamara's Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. Last season, Moultrie scored more than 1,100 points and dished out over 200 assists. He's already received scholarship offers from West Virginia and Memphis, and he's attracting interest from other top-tier schools like USC, Florida and Clemson.
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For Moultrie, the interest from college programs is a fitting reward for his dedication to hard work and another milestone on his road to success at the next level. He refuses to let his hand injury slow his journey.
According to Moultrie and his father Jeran, Jamir's interest in basketball began before kindergarten. When he was just three years old, his dad attached a mini-hoop to a door in his house. The toddler shot at the hoop constantly. By the time he reached 8 years old, Moultrie was already playing AAU ball—and putting in extra effort off the court to hone his skills.
"Early on, my dad told me this is what I have to do in order to get good," Moultrie says. "After that, I just followed what he said. It became something that's a part of me now."
By sixth grade, Moultrie and his father had connected with Koran Godwin, a basketball skills coach who also serves on Bishop McNamara's staff. He began training the young athlete, and he still puts in three one-on-one sessions with him every week. Godwin has been in awe of Moultrie's determination since they first met. He says, "[Jamir] is a tireless worker who is chasing his hoop dreams with passion, dedication and diligence. He's a different breed of individual."
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Moultrie's Work Today
Moultrie has always had a knack for outside shooting, but he is now spending most of his time with Godwin working on his mid-range game and perfecting his floater, which the six-footer can use to get his shot up and over taller defenders. When he works with Godwin, Moultrie wears a pair of gloves called Ball Hogs, which reduce his ability to grip the ball and force him to dribble with more precision.
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Moultire sets out to make 300 shots a day. He's done it since he was a freshman, and he continues to do it, honing his jumper for the next level.
For the past year, Moultrie has focused on adding weight to his frame, seeking to gain 10 pounds (up to 185) by the time he graduates. To get there, he's been building his body with Push-Ups, Pull-Ups and other exercises. But nothing speaks louder about his dogged determination to be great than his work since the surgery on his hand. Rather than take time off, Moultrie has been putting in extra hours on the court, keeping up his conditioning and learning how to improve his dribbling, shooting and lay-up drills with his left hand.
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"Most kids would use this as an opportunity to sit out and stand on the sidelines," Godwin says. "Not Jamir. He is participating in every team drill and still works out with me for extra skill work, only using his weak hand."
With college on the horizon and media attention intensifying with each big performance, Moultrie has tried to maintain a level head. He says, "I try not to think about it a lot. I just try to go out there and play and win the game. But playing, the hype comes with it, so I just try and not think about it as much."
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Moultrie will play for any school where he can build a relationship with his head coach, but he'd prefer to stay close to home. His grandfather is ill. The two have always been close and they talk every day. Moultrie wants to remain near him if he can. Of his grandfather, he says, "He talks to me a lot about basketball. He tells me to keep my head on straight, do my schoolwork and be the best basketball player I can be."
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As his junior season revs up, Moultrie's sights are set on winning the conference championship, which has narrowly eluded his grasp the past two seasons. He wants to get his teammates more involved, and he'd like to be named WCAC Player of the Year. With a strong work ethic, a devoted family and dedicated coaches, Moultrie is primed to achieve his long-held hoop dreams.