つれづれの記

Slam Dunk Scholarship Travel Diary 2014

January 24th

We arrive in New York to -12 degree weather and head towards South Kent
which is a 2 hour drive north by car.
We’re going to meet Hiroto Yamaki, the recipient of the 6th Annual Slam Dunk
Scholarship.

The cold pierces the skin, but the snow isn’t as bad as we had worried it
would be.
Things are looking good.
Games have been cancelled in the past because the opposing team couldn’t
make it through the snow. So I’m relieved.
Today’s game will be played as scheduled.

It sounds like everyone calls Hiroto Yamaki “Hiro”.
Although some students call him “Hiroto”.
I didn’t pick up on it in Japan, but he doesn’t put a lot of distance
between himself and others.
It’s not that he is a constant talker or that he is overly energetic, but
it’s just a natural lack of distance.

He was invited to an assistant coach’s home when most of the other students
had gone home for Christmas break.
The coach’s mother took a liking to him and from then on, she started to
call her son’s (the coach’s) room Hiro’s room.

I think that his personality is a treasure gifted to him by his parents. It
will surely help and open up many roads for him.

South Kent has a small team this year.
Their tallest player is 6’8″ (203 cm), and they have 3-4 guards at 5’8″ (173
cm) and 5’9″ (175 cm).
It doesn’t appear that there is anyone on the team with the type of
exceptional talent that you can see at first glance. Like an Isaiah Thomas
(Kings) or Dion Waiters (Cavs) who both attended here and later went on to
play in the NBA.
On the other hand, there aren’t any players who have the kind of overbearing
ego that can negatively affect a team at times. There’s a good camaraderie
amongst the players.

As it is, this team is 13-2 and winning at a high pace.

Hiroto Yamaki mentioned that the first thing that bewildered him after
coming here was how fast the level of physicality and defense had gone up.
Now he’s gotten used to it and it feels like he’s gotten more physical
himself.

There’s an interesting story that highlights that.

When he first got here, he played 1-on-1 with an African student and he was
amazed and surprised at the physicality, even though the other student
wasn’t on the basketball team (he was on the soccer team).
Months later, he played 1-on-1 against the same student and was surprised
that he wasn’t as physical as he had original thought.
He hadn’t noticed it, but he had gotten stronger during his days at South
Kent.

The game is into the second half.

The 3 small guards are running around the court and confusing their opponent
with their pressure.
The Montenegrin center has good fundamentals and quickness and he keeps
layering on the points at important times.

#11 Hiro is given almost 6 minutes of playing time.
When Hiro gets the call and he has the ball, the fans are on their feet
rooting for a 3 pointer. Unfortunately he can’t answer their hopes this
day.
He scores a quick 2 points.

The days at South Kent continue on.
Jimmy Hayakawa (ToyoTsuu), a recipient of the 2nd Annual Slam Dunk
Scholarship, had this to say.

“It isn’t guaranteed that you will succeed. However, it is guaranteed that
you will grow and mature.”

I hope that any frustruation he hides behind his smile will be used to help
further his growth.

 

 

Takehiko Inoue

2014.01.30

これまでのつれづれの記