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After 4th title, Shadow Mountain’s Jovan Blacksher ready for GCU

After a successful career at Shadow Mountain High School, Jovan Blacksher is excited to start his career at Grand Canyon. (Photo by Joshua Shure/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – If there is any player who should know what it takes to succeed as a college basketball player and reach the NBA, it’s Shadow Mountain’s Jovan Blacksher.

After all, not many players can say they’ve been coached by one former NBA star in high school and are about to be coached by another one in college.

Blacksher, Shadow Mountain’s 5-foot-10 senior point guard, can.

He finished his career capturing a fourth straight state championship under coach Mike Bibby after Shadow Mountain took down Deer Valley 64-38 in the 4A title game Saturday at Grand Canyon Arena. Blacksher had seven points and six assists in the game.

It was a fitting place for Blacksher to make the transition from high school to college and from coach to coach.

Bibby, who won a state championship at Shadow Mountain as a player in 1996 and a national title with Arizona as a freshman in 1997, played 14 seasons in the NBA.

In November, Blacksher signed to play at Grand Canyon for Antelopes coach Dan Majerle, who also spent 14 years in the NBA, including eight seasons with the Phoenix Suns. Majerle has been at GCU since 2013 and Blacksher, rated a four-star prospect by ESPN.com, is his most highly rated recruit to date.

“GCU felt like home to me,” Blacksher said. “I feel well with the coaches, feel well with the environment and school campus. I played with a few players that are attending there now and feel like its home a good place, so I went there.”

He joins two former Shadow Mountain players with connections to Grand Canyon. Antelopes senior J.J. Rhymes is a Shadow Mountain graduate, and senior Carlos Johnson played his first two seasons for Bibby and the Matadors before transferring.

“I’m really looking forward to playing with J.J.,” Blacksher said. “We played together at Shadow Mountain. He’s a good basketball player. He knows me, and I know him. We have good chemistry on and off the court. He’s like my brother so it’s going to be fun.”

Blacksher said his greatest achievement is the team’s consecutive state championships, and he was confidence heading into Saturday’s game.

“We are about to go for our fourth,” he said. “So hopefully that goes as planned…”

It did.

Jovan Blacksher won four state titles at Shadow Mountain High School. (Photo by Joshua Shure/Cronkite News)

Blacksher led the Matadors with 17 points, 10 steals and six assists in a 78-56 victory in the first round. They Matadors followed that with a rout of Tucson’s Amphitheater High in the quarterfinals.

Greg Moody, Bibby’s assistant coach, said that Blacksher appears to be a quiet leader, but that’s not always the case.

“He’s very quiet from the outside looking in, but if you get to know him, he’s very talkative among his teammates,” Moody said. “Most people think he’s really quiet, no demeanor. But when he’s fired up, it’s a whole different animal. His facial expressions stay the same, but when he’s ready to go into battle, we get to hear what everyone else doesn’t.”

And Blacksher has been playing for Bibby and Moody for so long, he’s like an extension of them on the court.

“It’s been really good,” said Moody, who has coached Blacksher since he was a fifth-grader. “He takes and translates the things us as coaches say to him and is able to distribute that to his teammates. As a coach, you always want your point guard to resemble you as a coach. We have been very blessed to have him, because we know we can say something to him and it will be pitched out to his teammates.”

Blacksher’s teammate, Jaelen House, is Bibby’s nephew and the son of yet another NBA baller, former Arizona State guard Eddie House. The younger House and Blacksher have been nearly inseparable – until now. House will play at ASU.

“I like playing with him,” House said of Blacksher. “I’ve been playing with him for years now. He knows me really well. He knows how to dictate the game, control it, play at his pace. And nobody really speeds him up. I think he’s one of the better point guards in the country.

“We are more like brothers than friends. I’ve known him for eight years. We’ve been playing with each other, and it just creates something that can never be broken.”

Blacksher is regarded as a true, play-making point guard and one of the best defenders at his position in the state.

Off the court, Blacksher said he usually hangs out at home and plays video games or listens to music.

“Being an athlete makes me a better person, because coming where I come from, I stay out of trouble,” he said. “It keeps me occupied. It keeps me busy and I get a lot to see. I travel a lot and get to meet new people. It’s just fun.

“My future goal is to make it to the NBA,” Blacksher added. “Of course, go to college first and leave a legacy there.”

After playing for Bibby and Majerle, he’ll know what it takes.

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