Following a solid junior season, Richland’s Leyton Hammonds took a cue from his favorite player after NBA superstar LeBron James won his first championship last year.
Hammonds bolstered his work ethic as a senior. The result was a scholarship offer from Oklahoma State and a selection as this season’s Star-Telegram 2013 Super Team Player of the Year.
F Leyton Hammonds, Sr. Richland: 21 ppg, 11 rpg. Star-Telegram Player of the Year will follow the Metroplex pipeline up to Oklahoma State next year.
G/F Brandon Parrish, Sr., Arlington Seguin: 14 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.3 apg. District MVP and TABC all-region. Will play in THSCA All-Star Game. Signed with TCU.
C Damontre McFarland, Sr., FW Arlington Heights: 16.3 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 5.6 bpg, 2 spg, 2.4 apg. First-team all-district and will play in TABC All-Star Game. Signed with Southern University.
PG Keyunta Watkins, Sr., Trophy Club Nelson: 20 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg. District 5-4A MVP, TABC All-Region and All-State.
G Dennis Jones, Jr., FW Dunbar: 19.3 points, 6.2 assists, 5.9 steals. District 6-4A co-MVP
G Jeremy Senglin Sr., Arlington Bowie: 19.6, 5.2 rpg.
G Jalan McCloud, Sr., North Crowley: 16.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 4.1 spg.
F Ty Charles, Jr., Kennedale: 16.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 5.4 apg.
G Taylor Johnson, Jr., Aledo: 20.4 ppg, 7.9 rbg, 5 apg.
F Greg Wesley, Sr, Arlington Seguin: 13.8 ppg, 7 rpg, 2 apg.
“Coach [Richard] Bacon and I had a talk after my junior year and he said he’s always thought highly of me and he said, ‘If you keep putting in the work it would show,’ ” Hammonds said. “I really worked hard over the summer and put my time in the weight room, and it made me a better player.”
The hard work led to his scoring average increasing five points to 21 per game to go along with 11 rebounds per game for a double-double average. Hammonds also picked up the District 4-5A MVP award along with a selection to the TABC All-State team.
What changed, he said, was taking a different mental approach to his game, raising his level of confidence and swagger on the court thanks to the encouragement of his coach.
“[Bacon] said confidence is key in basketball,” Hammonds said. “If you know you’re the baddest guy on the court, you’ll play like it.”
However, that swagger remains on the court with Hammonds, who humbly put his team and his coach first throughout his final high school season. When asked what the defining moment of his award-winning season was, he never hesitated bringing up his coach’s big accomplishment.
“We won Coach Bacon’s 500th career win,” Hammonds said. “Just to be a part of that really means a lot to me because my name is going to be on that list of names that won Coach Bacon’s 500th career win. I feel like I’m a part of Coach Bacon’s legacy now and I’m happy I was a part of getting it for him.”
Hammonds’ work ethic does not go unnoticed around his school or to the girls Super Team Player of the Year, Destiny Nunley.
“He kind of inspires me,” Nunley said. “He’s really tall as well and long and lean like myself. I like how he developed his outside shot, and it’s made me want to work on that as well.”
Hammonds will take his swagger to Stillwater to one of the hottest programs in the Big 12, Oklahoma State, where he will join several Metroplex players he developed friendships with over his years playing AAU basketball.
But rest assured, even as an incoming freshman, Hammonds’ confidence will shine through. Hammonds made it a point to mention his junior-year Whataburger Tournament victory over two of those Oklahoma State stars, former Flower Mound Marcus point guard Phil Forte and his teammate and Big 12 Player of the Year, Marcus Smart.
“I played against Marcus and Phil last year and we got the best of them,” Hammonds said with a laugh.
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