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Escobar named Parade All-American in basketball

Senior FAMU DRS guard to play Ole Miss next year


1:00 AM, Mar. 16, 2014 EDT

FAMU DRS' scoring machine, J. T. Escobar bangs into defender Conrad Brown during a drive to the basekt on Friday. The FAMU DRS Rattlers won a thrilling 43-42 victory over visiting Winter Garden in the Regional finals on Friday night, February 21, 2014. A last second three pointer lifted the Rattlers to victory.

What do 6-foot-11-inch Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) center Jahlil Okafor and 6-foot-2-inch FAMU DRS shooting guard J.T. Escobar have in common?

Both seniors were named first team 2014 Parade All-Americans on Friday.

While Okafor, named the boys player of the year in the 58th annual rendition of the awards, will head to Duke, Escobar will take his shooting talents to Mississippi. While it's not the last of the year-end accolades he will reap, it may be the biggest, joining a first team of just 20 selections from across the country.

"It's just a great feeling because all the hard work I've put in across my career, through the season with ups and downs, to see it pay off, little awards like that mean a lot," Escobar said.

"It shows that hard work does pay off, and everything I did from the time I was growing up, it all led to this point and paid off in the end."

Escobar averaged 29.6 points per game this season, connecting on 44 percent of his 3-point tries and 92 percent of his free throws. After playing on Maclay's varsity in Marauders coach Mike McGrotha's half-court system for three years, Escobar transferred to FAMU DRS to play an up-tempo style and assimilate himself to varying offenses he will need when he heads to Ole Miss.

"Playing with Coach McGrotha in those two years, although it was tough for me at times and I got frustrated because it's not the style I like to play or am accustomed to playing, it's something I needed to learn how to do," Escobar said.

"Those three years were so valuable to me, learning that style, and then this past year I got to play the opposite, playing a style I more naturally like to play. It's important to play both for college, to be great at both in any given moment. Each experience was equally as valuable and will pay off big time."

After a previous career-high of 40 points accomplished during his sophomore year at Maclay, Escobar dropped 41 on Aucilla Christian in this year's season opener. He scored 41 the very next night against Wakulla, and three days later scored 42 against Tallavana Christian.

In two meetings against Leon, he scored 37 and 50 points, and he scored 40 points in back to back playoff games in leading the Rattlers to the Class 2A state tournament. Along the way, he polished other aspects of his game, such as scoring in the paint, getting to the free throw line nearly nine times a game, and being a frequent rebounder on an undersized team.

"It was great coaching him this year," said FAMU DRS coach Gene Granger, who won't be returning next year.

"His work ethic and the level of expectation he added to what we already expected, he established himself as the type of player who could be a Parade All-American, play in all-star games across the state, be a player of the year. But it just proved something we already knew about him. I've seen him grow up and it's good for everyone else to get to see it too."

 

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