A New Journey Begins: O’Shae Fernanders – Part III

O'Shae Fernanders

A New Journey Begins: O’Shae Fernanders – Part III
January 16
09:35 2020

In part two of our series of articles following young O’Shae Fernanders through his first year of high school, we saw him gearing up for tryouts for the basketball team. Fernanders landed on the JV team and was looking to make an impact on the court, as well as in the classroom.

For the third installment, Fernanders shared his thoughts and experiences since making the basketball team and how his game has continued to evolve throughout the season.

The first game of the year is always a highly anticipated one for every player, on every team. For Fernanders, his objective was to just simply go out and play his game. In the end, he wound up scoring 23 points, setting the stage for what has become a stellar freshman campaign.

“It was actually astonishing, because I didn’t even think I was going to come out like that,” said Fernanders. “I started loosening up throughout the entire course of the game and I felt like that first game has defined my whole season.

“I knew for a fact it was going to actually get me where I needed to be throughout the season. As far as the games following the first one, I just knew it was going to telegraph the season. I thought my second game was going to be like the first, but it was hard to get comfortable on the court then. Now, at this point in the season, I am getting more comfortable on the floor now.”

The Spartans JV squad plays with a great team perspective and Fernanders credits head coach Kedrick Carpenter for that.  

“Coach instilled that in us and he says he is getting us ready for the varsity level, so we have to buy into the system,” he said. “He tells us not to play like a robot, so I feel like any spot that I see that is open, I’m going to dish it. It’s not hard to play as a team.”

Heading into the Lash/Chronicle Tournament, the Spartans came in undefeated. They dominated their first two opponents, defeated them 68-37 and 81-38 respectively. Fernanders dropped double digit points in both contests, while also contributing with multiple rebounds, steals and assists.  

The Championship game against Winston-Salem Prep was a dogfight all the way to the final minutes. Mt. Tabor triumphed in the end and Fernanders was named to the All-Tournament team in the Lash Bracket.  

“I knew we were going to beat the first two teams, not to be cocky or anything,” he said. “It was just the way the teams carried themselves.”

When asked about the championship game, Fernanders added, “When I walked into the gym, I had my Air Pods blasting, I was just tuned in. I had to be, because I knew they weren’t going to come out and play with us. I also had to play with a grit, with a chip on my shoulder, like I had something to prove, because it was some kids from Prep that was talking about us being finesse players. We decided we were not going to do much talking; we are just going to play.”

Fernanders said he wanted to make his presence felt in the championship game against the Phoenix. Fernanders felt like he had to be there for his team if they needed him.

Winning the Lash/Chronicle Tournament was one of the goals that Fernanders set for himself before the season. 

“I was like, ‘I got the Lash on my belt’,” said Fernanders after winning the championship. “This is an accomplishment I had to get. I wasn’t worried about MVP or any of that, I was just worried about getting the Lash, because they didn’t win it last year, so for us to do that, it was like, we did it.”

To be named to the All-Tournament team was a big achievement for Fernanders. He says it shows what type of player he is and the work he has put in throughout the season.

“I was just surprised and happy, because I had so many emotions going through my body, but they were happy ones,” he said about being named to the All-Tournament team.

At the time this article was written, the Spartans still remained undefeated. Fernanders says he knows the Spartans have a target on their back due to the success of the basketball program over the years. He feels it would mean a lot for the JV team to finish the season undefeated.  

Up to this point, the season has exceeded all expectations for Fernanders. He thought he would struggle a lot more than he has thus far with balancing life on the court and in the classroom.  

“I put more work in, in the classroom than I do on the court because it’s needed,” he continued. “In order to go places you have to have the education. I really want to prove to my teachers that I am responsible enough to get the work done.”

Fernanders’ parents are proud of what he has accomplished on the court and in class so far this year. They expected him to do well with his grades, because they expect nothing less, but are also glad to see his athletic success as well.

“It’s definitely exceeded what I thought,” said Nakeeba Orr, Fernanders’ mother. “I knew he was going to do well in the classroom, because I am going to stay on him regardless and I remind him every day what we are trying to do, as far as his future. As far as the basketball side of it, I really didn’t know. I’ve seen how he has played in the past, but going into high school, being a freshman versus sophomores that are on JV, I really didn’t know. Now he is performing, he’s having fun and I can’t ask more from him being a freshman.”

Chad Fernanders, Fernanders’ father, added, “I am not going to say that he has exceeded my expectations, because as a father and what I know, what I have instilled in him, it is expected. As a father, I always want more, but he has accepted the challenge and big-time players step up in big-time games.

“He has a tendency to play down to the level of his competition and I have talked to him about that. I would like for him to be the best player in the conference and I think Coach Muse is very pleased with his play. In conference play it’s going to be tougher, so I take my hat off to him and I am proud of him.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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