It’s hard for Jason Kimbrough to not crack a smile while reminiscing about his past year in basketball. The Mountain Pointe sophomore has made tremendous strides.
As a freshman, Kimbrough played on the Pride football team. He then came out for basketball, admittedly unprepared, and barely saw playing time with the junior varsity.
Then, Kimbrough practiced with the Pride varsity during its 2018 playoff run and quickly quit football. He would focus on basketball, now seeing what it took to succeed at the highest level.
“I was just kind of a guy that helped them get through stuff and see how they worked,” Kimbrough said. “It showed me what I wanted to do the next three years of high school basketball. I wanted to be part of it.”
Kimbrough now is the shooting guard for the Pride, the only sophomore starter on a team that was No. 11 in the MaxPreps national rankings in December and hammering on the door to crack the top 10 before a nasty skid.
Coach Kirk Fauske said Kimbrough’s work paid off, especially his shooting from behind the arc.
“He’s become one of those guys who stays long after we’re done practicing to keep shooting and working on his game,” Fauske said. “It got to the point that he improved so much during the off season I had to start him.”
Kimbrough showcased his clutch shooting during a December game against defending 6A state champion Pinnacle in December. The Pride lost to the Pioneers in the title game last season and a victory seemingly would make a statement about their prospects for this season.
While Pride point guard Khalid Price and center Jalen Graham, both seniors and Division I college prospects, dominated the scoring, Kimbrough swished two three-pointers late in the third quarter that sent the jam-packed home gym into a roar and essentially iced the game.
His production was exactly what his teammates have come to expect.
“He knows exactly what his game is and what he can do for the team,” Price said. “You never see him play outside of what he can do and that has been helpful for us.”
Kimbrough learns from Price, who two seasons ago was in Kimbrough’s shoes as a sophomore starting guard on the varsity.
From lowering his body on dribbles to finding correct passing lanes inside to the Pride big men, Kimbrough emulates what he sees from the captain.
Being surrounded by seniors comes with the responsibility of listening to them when they yell at him for mistakes. And, on a championship contender, there have been plenty of teachable moments.
“As a starter, if I mess up I can get hit by multiple people, especially Khalid first, and then the rest of the seniors and some of the other guys get on me,” Kimbrough said. “Then, coach will come to me last with the positive influence. It’s a blessing to have all these older guys, but it’s some pressure, too.”
With the playoffs fast approaching, Mountain Pointe will count on Kimbrough. He said there is pressure to produce for the seniors who taught him so much.
However, he is all smiles thinking about what he and the Pride could accomplish.
“It’s been a challenge, but it’s been a fun one,” Kimbrough said. “I came in unprepared for the test of being on varsity basketball, and I want to be a big part of this program. It’s something I want to live up to and it’s something that I know I’m going to live up to.”