Mountain Pointe guard J’Saan Strover may not be as vocal as other seniors on the roster, but he has quickly emerged as a vital player on the court.
“He’s a quiet kid when it comes to practice but when the lights come on and it’s game time, he flips a switch,” Mountain Pointe coach Kirk Fauske said. “It kind of drives me a little crazy, how quiet he is, but there isn’t anybody that can stop him.”
At 6-foot-4, Strover possesses all of the necessary tangibles to be dominant on both ends of the floor. His quickness, combined with his physical stature, present a nightmare for opposing teams.
Strover averaged 12 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1 assist per game this season for the Pride, most of which come from his ability to drive to the rim and absorb contact.
That aspect of his game made the difference against Mesa in the first round of the 6A tournament on Feb. 14. Strover shot 58 percent from the field and was 4-of-5 from the free throw line.
He led all scorers with 18 points in Mountain Pointe’s 64-56 win over the Jackrabbits.
“He is the best downhill player in the state of Arizona,” Fauske said. “When he gets going, nobody can stop him. He is an amazing athlete and when he puts it all together, he is going to be scary.”
Strover’s natural athleticism has garnered interest from some of the top junior college programs in the nation – some of which were in attendance on Feb. 14.
Fauske knows it is just a matter of time before a major offer comes the senior’s way. But until then, he constantly reminds Strover to take things one day at a time.
“Coach Fauske talks to me every day about being on time, being persistent and to keep working,” Strover said. “I just need to keep working and stay focused. I know God has a plan for me.”
Strover’s dedication to basketball starts at home with his mother, Toi. The senior said she’s been motivating him his entire life, often going with him to workout at a local park or the gym.
“She’s constantly there on my back telling me to get up and do something instead of sitting in my house,” Strover said. “Sometimes as a kid you think, ‘oh, that’s just my mom talking,’ but she is my biggest supporter. She is always there for me and making sure I perform my best every game.
“She wants the best for me.”
The motivation he received from his mother was beneficial last year as a junior, as he was forced to sit out the entire year due to the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s rule regarding multiple transfers.
Strover shined as a sophomore at Skyline High in Mesa before he transferred to Desert Vista at the end of the season. But shortly after, he transferred again, this time to Mountain Pointe.
He watched from the sideline as Mountain Pointe made a run to the 6A state championship last season. Now in postseason play, he knows the constant preparation at home will transfer to the court as the Pride navigate through the playoffs.
Mountain Pointe, the No. 5 seed, faces fourth-ranked Perry in the 6A quarterfinals on Tuesday.
“We wanted to come in prepared and now we have to stay ready for the next game,” Strover said. “We just need to keep preparing.”
No matter how far the Pride go in the playoffs this season may not be the most memorable moment for Strover in his short stint at Mountain Pointe.
For him, it’s all about the impact Fauske has had on his playing career.
“We have a love-hate relationship because he is always on my back but I really appreciate him for that,” Strover said. “Especially in moments like this where I know I still need to keep working.
“That’s what I will remember the most.”