When I was nine and I was playing with my brother, he stopped and looked at me and told me I could be something one day. (Everything changed) that day.”Shemar Westbrook
SPRINGFIELD — Shemar Westbrook is right where he wants to be, serving as an Effingham County Rebels leader and taking over games with his thrilling shots off the glass.
Westbrook has waited for this moment and won’t let anything stand in the way of him playing his best basketball.
“I’m trying to average a double-double every game,” he said.
And so far, the big man has lived up to his expectations, averaging 10.5 points and rebounds per game.
Westbrook wasn’t always the shot-blocking machine he is today. As a 5-foot-11 sophomore, Westbrook, now 6-4, wasn’t sure if he’d reach six feet. With that in mind and with limited minutes on the varsity squad, he was determined to become a starter whether he grew or not.
Now he is wreaking havoc in the paint and using his length to tower over his opponents.
“Starting from my sophomore year, I wasn’t always the biggest, the strongest and the fastest,” Westbrook said. “But as I got into the weight room and started working, I started getting stronger and realized I could do more with my body and my length.”
“He has been a great leader in the last year,” Rebels head coach Jake Darling said. “He has been the hardest worker and the best student of the game. He is the most improved player in the program from his ninth-grade year.”
Westbrook is the youngest of three boys in his family. One of this brothers, Samari, played for the Rebels two seasons ago.
Shemar is one inch shorter than Samari but said he feels like he became a giant overnight.
“I thought I was going to be left out from being tall and my brothers always bullied me around,” Shemar said jokingly.
Because of his dramatic growth spurt, he was forced to learn some parts of the game over again. And although he’s proficient in most categories, there’s still one part of his game he wants to perfect.
“When I was 5-11, my shot was way better outside than it was inside,” he said. “As I grew ,it flipped. (Nowadays, I am working on) being faster on the ball and moving my feet.”
Shemar is relishing the limelight, a spot he sat back and watched Samari enjoy. He knew some of his biggest competition would always be in his own backyard but his confidence grew when one of his brothers took note of his skillset.
“When I was nine and I was playing with my brother, he stopped and looked at me and told me I could be something one day,” Shemar said. “(Everything changed) that day.”
As Shemar got older, he became more comfortable contributing on both sides of the ball.
“I feel like I’m the best at helping other guys, grabbing rebounds and deflecting passes,” he said. “I’m comfortable mid-range and underneath the basket.”
The Rebels are off to a 6-0 start and, although it’s not unfamiliar territory, Shemar is enjoying how great things are going. He is more concerned with the way the season ends, however.
“I would like to win the (Region 2-AAAAAA) title and get into the playoffs,” he said. “It would mean a lot because there aren’t many teams that come through high school that have made it this far. Then I could come back to the high school knowing we did that as a team. It’s something I can tell my kids.
“I was part of the team that left a legacy.