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Bryant earns spot on Shooting Stars’ roster

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

COLUMBUS — The King has his court, and one of the top knights is Ryan Bryant.

The 6-foot-3 shooting guard turned in a strong performance at the King James Shooting Stars’ tryouts in Columbus on Saturday and earned a spot on the travel team.

“I thought it was pretty surprising at first (to get an invitation). It was pretty cool. I was nervous at first, but once I got playing I was, “I can play with these guys,’” said Bryant.

Bryant had an impressive evaluation at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase held March 7-8 in Columbus.

Buckeye Prep’s evaluation said Bryant “is not a ‘big’ but he’s big and handles the ball as well as many of the smaller guards we have seen.

“He has great footwork and his ability to pass the ball at his size separated him from other shooting guards.”

Bryant’s performance at the showcase earned him a top-five player out of nearly 300 of the best basketball players invited to the showcase from the United States and Canada.

His performance also caught the eye of officials of the top recruiting AAU team — King James Shooting Stars — and earned a tryout last Saturday.

The King James Shooting Stars is a team sponsored by NBA great LeBron James.

The team will travel to play in weekend tournaments with the first tournament scheduled this week in Louisville or Lexington.

Bryant said he has no idea what to expect in terms of playing time or competition.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing, so I’m going to try and do my best. That’s the reason I made the team. They think I’m good enough and I do, too,” said Bryant.

He does know that the team will meet after each game to eat pizza and watch game film to correct any mistakes and focus on positive play.

Bryant’s success hasn’t really come as a surprise. His father D.J. was an all-district football player and his mom — the former Nikki Eplion — was a professional boxer who once fought IBA super middleweight champion Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali.

He said his parents give him a lot of good advice including something his mom tells him before every game.

“My mom always tell me when I’m playing, she said play to the best of your ability because you never know who’s going to be watching. This time she was right,” said Bryant.

This past season Bryant was a member of the Ironton Fighting Tigers’ eighth grade basketball team that won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament this past season.