Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hughes Control: East Carolina-Bound Hughes Looking To Change Program

All it took was five games.

Five games.

As a sophomore at Beacon High (N.Y.), Elijah Hughes was a bit too unselfish.

 A vast array of his teammates, coaches, parents, even kids outside of the team had urged the high-rising guard to put up more shots.

While initially content to facilitate first, Hughes realized he must become more aggressive to score. Soaring past unsuspected defenders, finishing with authority, and knocking down shots from all over catapulted Hughes to focal point status.

And so during a five-game closing stretch, Hughes averaged 21.8 points while shooting the rock at just a thread under 50 percent. Deffering no more, he evolved into the one of the region's top guards.

 There was a thorough 33-point outburst against Red Hook (a 70-57 win), which enabled Hughes to see how his scoring can dictate a game. He would finish that game 12-for-18 from the field.

The self-realization translated to Hughes' junior season at Kennedy Catholic, where he helped revive a program languishing under the .500 mark before he arrived.

At Kennedy, Hughes averaged 15.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists en route to a 26-2 record, a city championship, and a berth in the CHSAA Class A state championship. Hughes was named MVP of CHSAA's 'A' division.

"For me it was just a matter of confidence and understanding what I was really capable of," said the 6-foot-7 Hughes, who chose East Carolina over Iona, Marist, Fairfield, Marist and a handful of others.

"My confidence from there went to a whole different level. After I transferred to Kennedy, there was a game where myself and Rawle Alkins (then at Christ The King, currently at Word of God (N.C.)  went at it. That moment changed my mentality. I wanted to prove I was one of the best players in the state. I knew that scrimmage could be my big break, going up against Rawle."

Now at South Kent Prep (CT), Hughes is bordered by high-caliber talent at one of the nation's most reputable basketball breeding grounds.

Hughes On Choosing East Carolina

ECU was showing me love consistently on a daily basis. So, that showed me how badly they wanted me. Just going on my unofficial, I felt it was perfect.

The coaching staff, style of play, and team chemistry off the court was everything I was looking for in a school. Assistant coach Ken Potosnak and head coach Jeff Lobo were very active in recruiting me.

They are trying to build up the basketball program. It's known more as a football school right now and I'd like to help change it to a basketball school as well.

On South Kent Prep (CT)

The competition is great and we've got good chemistry. Tremont Waters and Matt Moyer, they both can handle the ball-handling responsibilities. For me, it allows me to get out in the open court and get easy buckets.

There aren't any distractions out here at all. It's all simple...Focus on your schoolwork and get better everyday as a basketball player and a person.

On His One-Year JFK Stay

There are a lot of great guys from the city who put up great numbers, but it really doesn't mean anything unless you win. Remembering how it felt to be a winner was my favorite memory from Kennedy.

I pretty much knew Sean (Delaney) and Dom (Christiano) for a while and I knew they were great players from AAU and travel tournaments. Their talents helped me show my ability to pass and play with different, better players.

On His Most Influential Figure

My father. He's always pushed me and told me to just be confident and always feel like you belong.