Straight to the ‘Point’

Published 8:16 am Thursday, June 8, 2023

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Special to the R-C News-Herald

WINDSOR – A point guard has perhaps the most specialized position in the game of basketball. They must run the offense, are usually the team’s best dribbler and passer, and must know all aspects of the team’s game plan.

In short, they create opportunities for others – and themselves – on the floor in a game.

On Monday of this week, former Bertie High School point guard Zy’Lee Bazemore created an opportunity off the court: signing to attend and play his first college season this fall at nearby Pitt Community College. The signing, with family, coaches, and ex-teammates, took place at the BHS Media Center.

The lone senior on a team that came within one game of playing for a state championship, the Windsor native averaged nearly 15 points per game, over three assists and rebounds per contest, and one-and-a-half steals.

“I just liked his tenacity,” said PCC men’s basketball head coach Derrick Mullins, who journeyed up from Winterville for the signing. “I saw him play against Greenville Rose early in the year and I saw his willingness to compete and those two things combined are part of the criteria of becoming a Bulldog basketball player.

“If he can compete for his minutes and earn them then he has a good chance to start because we’re looking for true leadership,” the coach added.

Bazemore, who is a distant cousin of another former Falcon of note, ex-NBA star Kent Bazemore, was one of the centerpieces of a squad that ran roughshod over the Four Rivers 1A Conference. The team composed a 15-1 league record before claiming the tournament title and on up to the East Regional final and a mark of 26-5 overall before bowing out at the hands of eventual state champion Wilson Prep.

“When I got here two years ago they told me he was a true workaholic,” said current Bertie coach Johnnie Rascoe, Jr. “In fact, the first place I met him was in the old gym across the street. From that point on I can attest to how hard he works and how determined he was to make it to that next level.

“He’s a walking example of what the other guys in the program should aspire to be; not necessarily where the end result is with college playing time, but keep education first because you’re going to need an education just to get to the next level,” Rascoe concluded.

Bazemore says he felt at home at Pitt, and naturally the close proximity to his real home had to factor in. He also liked the fact that the Bulldogs were interested in him from the beginning and they never wavered. He considered Lenoir Community College (Kinston, NC), Mt. Olive University, and Shaw University, but PCC won his heart. He hopes to advance beyond the junior college level after his playing days there are over.

“D-1, D-2, it doesn’t really matter,” he noted in his quiet, polite and understated manner. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get ready. Just have to work hard and it starts right now: running, the weight-room, the books, all of that.”

As for his field of study in college, he doesn’t hesitate to express it; even though it came off as a bit of a surprise. He admits, however, he is dead-serious.

“I’m going for Biology,” he revealed. “I love Chemistry (and) anything that has to do with the study of the aquatic life because I hope to one day be a Marine Biologist.

“Some of the questions I have, like, I want to learn how animals adapt in the water, how do plants grow, algae, and all of that. Biology’s where I got A’s in school,” he said.

Another comparison to his cousin is that Zy’Lee wants to get two bachelor’s degrees, much like Kent did at Old Dominion University.

“Seeing his picture hanging up there in the gym has motivated me to work hard,” he disclosed. “I want to be up there with him, or even better. Everybody looked up to him, so I always had to be great in the moment.”

Bazemore credits family: parents, mom Lisa and father, Robert, along with his siblings, as being another motivator in his life.

“Seeing my mom work so hard everyday, makes me want to work hard for her,” he confessed.

As his teammates surrounded him at the table after the official signing, teasing and playfully jostling with him, he was asked what legacy he wanted to leave future Falcons who wanted to follow along in his footsteps.

“Work hard, do everything right, don’t do anything dumb, stay in the books and out of trouble,” he passed along. “They know what it takes.”