The LONG Road to Graceland

The LONG Road to Graceland

University Center, MI---------------- Every road is not paved with gold, nor are they all straight for that matter. Some roads are difficult, bumpy and not the path most would choose to take. Some may call this the road less traveled, which is one that Justin Person (JP), Virgil Walker (VJ), and Trey Newsham have all dominated. 

"To be honest, I'm more excited that these young men graduated and earned their degrees through their perseverance," says coach McMath. Earning a scholarship to play basketball is the cherry on top. 

The relationship between coach McMath and Justin Person's is one that goes back many years. Their journey started during AAU basketball, then picked back up at Delta when Person was an incoming freshman and coach McMath was the incoming assistant coach.  Under head coach Kyle Blackbourn, now at University of Wisconsin, the team finished with a 19-13 record while Person's averaged 6.6ppg.  The following seasons, Person took a couple years to address some of his own personal issues. During the time he took to better himself, he never lost his basketball focus and continued working out in order to make himself stronger and better than ever. He promised coach McMath, if given the opportunity, coach McMath would not regret him being on the Delta men's basketball journey to success.  The rest of the story is history. When he returned back to the program, Person's had early season injury issues, but bounced back in a big way. His career high 32 points during conference play led Delta to the national tournament.  "I truly believe JP's maturity and passion help fuel the run and success we had as a team and his time off helped mold him into the man and player he is today"(McMath.) While on the other hand, JP credits Delta because he says, "Delta prepared me by the everyday grind it took to be successful on and off the court. Getting to the "next play" was a lifestyle."

Virgil Walker, a great two sport athlete from Midland High School, took a lot of recruiting to get him to come to Delta. Walker had the opportunity to play football at the next level, but he and his family chose Delta College because of the plans we set in place to foster his growth as a young man. Walker had a great freshman year at Delta, averaging 7pts & 7 rebounds per game, as well as receiving Honorable Mention All Eastern Conference.  Heading into Walker's 2nd season the expectations were high and he did not back down from the challenge. Walker delivered in a big way by averaging 10 points and 9 rebounds per game.  Walker ultimately verbally committed to Shawnee State, but was determined to stay at Delta to earn his degree. This was one of the main reasons the Walker family decided on Delta to pave the way for Virgil's college education. "Delta prepared me for the next step by giving me the college experience in a more controlled environment and also helping me mature. I feel that if I would've went to a big university I would not have received the same guidance." During his year off, Walker increased his strength and grew as person, which he believes will make him ready to dominate at the next level.   

Finally, Trey Newsham, not only one of the best shooters to come from Delta but also one of the most coachable players McMath has ever had the opportunity to coach. Newsham came in as a highly touted shooter and is considered one of the best, or even the best player to come from his Essexville Garber High School.  Newsham's freshman year at Delta was a very successful one. He not only averaged 11 points per game, but he also started 20 out of 25 games. His hard work ultimately earned him Honorable Mention All Eastern Conference.  But, Trey's Delta road did not continue on from there, it involved a pit stop to get some fine tuning and repairs both physically and mentally. At the end of his first season, Trey felt tired and not like himself. He decided, with consultation from his family and coaches to sit out the next year in order to focus on school. Trey describes the support he received from Delta by saying, "Delta helped me by having coaches and staff that hold you accountable in the classroom and in the real world. That translates to the basketball court without even realizing it's doing so."  Not forgetting about the previous road he was traveling, he remained in consistent contact with the program.  Once we were able to get Newsham back on the road, he was faster, stronger, and focused on helping the program build to our goal on the court.  Trey came back to average 12 points per game, while shooting 42% from beyond the arc, earning him 3rd Team All Eastern Conference. 

The path these young men have taken is not your conventional route of finding the university that you love. Their road is different because it is pathed with victories that are immeasurable by wins & losses.  All three of these young men will have their degrees while on the road to Graceland, but most importantly they have all matured to the point to understand that no road is straight but that means it will be filled with opportunities to be #EPIC.