Saturday, April 5, 2014

CT Guard Spikes Now on D-1 Radar

In a current universe where thunderous dunks and excessive, And-1 Mix Tape dribbling win over a majority of young players, Timothy Spikes is a basketball old soul.

The 6-foot-1 guard, out of Meriden, Conn., does not spend his summers devoured by an AAU schedule. He refuses to become enamored with Youtube highlights or give in to the national hype machine which gases highly-coveted recruits.

Imagine that?

Spikes takes pride in applying confrontational, lockdown defense while playing a rigorous prep school schedule across the country.

Meriden, Conn. is a long ways from Rucker Park, West Fourth Street, Dyckman, Kingdome, and the traditional New York basketball proving grounds. Players up the Merrit Parkway tend to come with less expectations, less exposure, and less buzz.

 Spikes spent his early days playing long, exhausting games at the Meriden Boys & Girls club and Washington Park.

A Post-Graduate at Stillwater Christian (Kalispell, MT), the crafty guard grew up patterning his game around the talented but troubled Doug Wiggins. Wiggins, the former UConn guard, is one of Hartford's favorite and most recognizable sons.

Spikes was a routine spectator at the plenty-competitive Hartford Pro/Am games during the summer.

Buoyed by the power that parallels the role of stopper, Spikes always handled the chore of bottling up the opponent's best player.

All the late-night games, all the one-on-one battles paid dividends when Spikes went eyeball-to-eyeball with Clemson-commit Dante Grantham of Hargrave Military Academy.

Grantham, an athletic 6-foot-8 forward who can spread the floor with a deft shooting touch, presented the toughest challenge of Spikes' career. It was a barometer and a sign of how far he's come. And though he was far from putting the clamps on the highly-touted Tigers signee, the matchup fed Spikes' insatiable hunger for more defensive energy.

"I've gotten a lot better at defense and that's what coaches like when they see me play," said Spikes, who has earned interest from Division-I programs such as Liberty University and Old Dominion.

"My handle has gotten a lot better and I continue to get shots up in the gym, day in and day out."

Who is with Spikes shooting in the gym?

Quinnipiac-bound forward Chaise Daniels, Tracy Rumley, and Jamel Hamens, on most days.

"They always keep me motivated," said Spikes, who has reaped the results of constant labor with trainer Kyle Solomon.

"Tracy and I workout together all the time and we're always trying to improve each other's game."

As a youngster, Spikes was perched in the stands at the XL Center and Gampel Pavilion, his eyes pasted on some of the electric, guard-laden UConn teams of his boyhood.

 He watched Jerome Dyson finish fast breaks with emphatic dunks. He watched Hasheem Thabeet punch, alter, and manipulate shots in the paint.

His eyes widened as lead guard A.J. Price drilled clutch pull-up jumpers and guided the team during crucial sequences. He erupted as Craig Austrie bagged deep 3-pointers and Stanley "Sticks" Robinson infused Jim Calhoun's offense with dazzling displays of athleticism.

What began as a hobby now holds the keys to his future.

Thirsting for a scholarship, Spikes is quick to acknowledge how impactful his friends and teammates have been in his active pursuit.

"My teammates at my prep school really pushed me to get better and to never play scared," Spikes said.

"I  wouldn't be anything without Jon Mitchell, Rahiem Robinson, Donald Williams, Malik Gaffney, Jalen Oliver, Dom Lee, Joe Pillow. They are all D-1 players and they've really helped."