D-III UMass-Dartmouth star Jordan Rezendes builds on off-court challenges

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first_imgJordan Rezendes brought the ball up the court with Massachusetts-Dartmouth down by four and just over 36 seconds to go against Plymouth State earlier this season.UMass-Dartmouth head coach Brian Baptiste wanted the ball in Rezendes’ hands with the game on the line. The NCAA Division III leading scorer already had 24 points in the game. As he crossed half court and got closer to the 3-point line, he was triple-teamed. He created a sliver of space and shot a 3-pointer. It missed, and the Corsairs went on to lose the game.“I should have gave it up and I shot it and it just missed,” Rezendes said.It’s not typical of Rezendes to make mistakes late in the game. The senior has taken UMass-Dartmouth by storm ever since he joined the program two seasons ago. He’s fourth in the nation in assists to go with his 30.1 points per game. He’s set the single-game records for points and made 3s in a game. He’s blown by the previous single-season scoring record and he managed to join the 1,000-point club in his limited time at the school.All this success seemed fleeting at one point. The talented basketball product from Wareham (Massachusetts) High School struggled in the classroom, which thwarted any chance of him continuing to play basketball after his senior season. Now, after several years of maturing and overcoming challenges both on and off the court, he’s finally blossomed into player he knew he could be.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textRezendes’ academic shortcomings prevented him from going on to be a scholarship player at a Division II level, something both he and his coaches thought was possible. Instead, he had to put basketball on the shelf and focus on his schoolwork.“I ended up going to a community school, and that’s the last thing I thought I would do,” Rezendes said.When he transferred from Dean to Massachusetts Bay community college after one year, some of his credits were lost. What he wanted to be a quick two-year stopgap ended up being a three and a half year process to get his associates degree.Steve Faniel, now the head varsity basketball coach at Wareham after coaching JV, has seen many of his former players struggle after high school because they neglected their studies while basking in their athletic success.“It’s about earning keys, it’s about getting a certain amount of keys so you can open any doors,” Faniel said. “(Early on he didn’t) necessarily have the keys to open all the doors that he’s capable of opening because he didn’t mature until the later days.”Rezendes matured in his sophomore year, his first at MassBay. The effort he devoted off the court was picking up steam and matching the talent on it.Because Rezendes sat out of basketball for so long, a lot of his scholarship offers were gone. In August 2014, he made the last minute decision to enroll at Massachusetts-Dartmouth, as Baptiste already knew him from his days at Wareham.“Jordan contacted me, and I sat down with him,” Baptiste said, “and I just told him ‘We’d love to have you here’ and the next thing you know he was enrolled.”After a successful season last year, Rezendes was faced with a new and much more serious off-court issue. Around Thanksgiving, his 17-year-old brother Trey Miranda was hospitalized with brain cancer. Miranda’s father isn’t in the picture and Rezendes has always played a balancing act between big brother and father figure. Nearly every day, he drove back and forth from practice to the hospital in Boston.“It makes you work and want to make it somewhere in life and basketball,” Rezendes said.After the Plymouth St. game, the Corsairs were tied and had the last possession in another close game against Husson. Once again Rezendes brought the ball up the court. Once again he got triple-teamed as he got closer to the 3-point line. This time, he dished it off. The ball eventually found an open teammate, who hit a game winning 3 as the buzzer sounded.Rezendes has made a name for himself by breaking scoring records. But it’s giving to others and sacrificing the spotlight that has flipped the script on his life and career.“I’m just proud of him that even though he had a tough road,” Faniel said, “he didn’t give up.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 22, 2016 at 10:02 pm Contact Tomer: tdlanger@syr.edu | @tomer_langerlast_img



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