Mumford Senior Takes Unique Route To Basketball Success

29 Jun

IMG_0822It’s not too often a high school basketball player’s first organized competition is at the varsity level.

Nor is it too often the case a player on their first year of varsity averages double-figures in scoring while dishing five assists per-game.

Detroit Mumford senior guard Dwight Burton is no ordinary player.

In the ever-expanding basketball world of placing the nation’s youth into leagues before the start of elementary school, Burton never did experience those luxuries.  He never played “house” basketball, or traveled as a member of an AAU team until sophomore year.  So which begs the question, what was Burton doing before that caused him to become so good?

“Nothing really,” says Burton.  “Just playing with my brothers and a Fisher Price rim my mom bought me.  I used to act like I was in the NBA.  But that’s really it until my tenth grade year.”

From his youth, Dwight wanted to be a member of a basketball team, growing up with brothers who played at the high school level.  Dwight envisioned himself one day forging a path of his own in the game of basketball, but was hesitant on where to start.

While playing in a mere pick-up game with friends at a Church event, an AAU coach noticed a special set of abilities which separated Dwight from his peers, and wanted him to play organized basketball for the first time in his life.

IMG_0823From then on, Burton was a member of the Michigan Hurricanes, who in the last 20 years have been one of the select youth traveling programs in Michigan.  Burton was in the ninth grade at the time, and played 15u.  He notes his first two games on the circuit were particularly rough, even causing him to question was basketball really a career he wanted to pursue.

“I played terrible, I played nervous my first two organized games, but after that third game is when everything started picking up,” said Burton.

“I had a talk with my mom, she told me it’s time to eat son.  ‘You said you were ready to play with the big boys.  I know you can play with them it’s just you have to know that.'”

Dwight listened.  Burton stood out, his team won games, and competed for tournament championships, life was good.  Because of his stellar play on the circuit, the Hurricane 16u coach at the time, Ray Reeves, grew akin to Burton’s game.  Reeves, well-respected in the Detroit prep basketball community with successful stints at Finney and Community, had just accepted the position as the head coach at Mumford High School.  Coach Reeves believed Burton was the ideal center piece he could use to rebuild an ailing Mustang program.  Another stepping-point in Burton’s young career had commenced, transferring from a small charter school on the eastside to a school across the city.

Burton admits he shed tears following his first varsity game at Mumford because of poor play.  But as the season developed, he slowly started to gain confidence.  He became a valued member of a Mustang team which doubled their win total from a season earlier, six to 12, while averaging 15 points and five assists in the process.  All as the lone sophomore on varsity.

Burton followed his stellar 10th grade year with an even more impressive junior campaign.  22 overall points and seven assists, all with no recognition about post-season awards.

“(It) pushes me a lot,” said Burton.  “Even though there are players that get more exposure than me, I have to work hard everyday.  If I don’t work on and off the court, I’m not going to be able to when when the lights are on a and it’s game time.  I have to outwork them.”

He no longer competes with the Hurricanes for AAU, but is in his first year as a Michigan Playmaker.  Burton was a late addition to an already talented Playmaker roster, but his presence has lifted the team to another level.  In his first tournament, the Playmakers won the championship, undefeated with a 6-0 overall record.  Dwight averaged double-figures in each game.  Then in his second tournament, Burton proved himself as one of premier guards in all of Michigan.  In victories against 1Nation, Detroit Showtime, and Grand Rapids Storm, all teams with more highly-touted guards, Burton more than held his own, averaging double-digits repeatedly.  In the last major event of the Spring circuit, Dwight saved the best for last.  6-1 record at the Chicago Classic, silver division champions, and 25 points in the championship game.

Still Burton has found limited collegiate interest, despite holding a reported 3.4 GPA his previous card-marking.  Dwight vows to make the most of his final month of AAU in July, which college coaches may view with intentions of recruiting players.  With tournaments scheduled in Grand Rapids, Cincinnati, and possibly Las Vegas, Dwight will soon recognize how far he’s come in so little amount of time, in life and basketball.

“That God is good, I came from not being known to now making a name for myself,” said Burton.  “If you work hard at something you love it will pay out in the end.”









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