Ba’Shawn Mickens is having his best season yet with the Summit Boys’ Varsity Basketball team.
The #3 senior point guard reached his 1,000th career point milestone against Hillside in mid-January and just last week, Mickens scored 20 points against A.L. Johnson to become the Hilltoppers’ all-time leading scorer. He needed 17 points entering the Feb. 14 game to break the record set by West Virginia University star and Summit native Wellington Smith in 2005.
“I was actually nervous. My coach told me not to worry about it because he knew I would get my 1,000th point. He told me to get it done quick and easy so I could focus on the game,” said Mickens, who reached the 1,000th point milestone in the first quarter against Hillside on Jan. 15. “When I first moved to Summit, that was a goal of mine. When I met Wellington Smith, he told me I’d never get to 1,000 and I told him 'I will.'”
When Patch spoke with Mickens on Feb. 14 before the game, he said becoming Summit’s all-time leading scorer was always one of his personal goals and accomplishing that goal “would feel surreal for me.” He was confident he would be breaking the record against Johnson, which also happened to be Senior Night for the Hilltoppers.
“My freshman year, I told coach I would be breaking Wellington Smith’s record when I played varsity, and I’m actually about to break it,” he said before the game.
Mickens began playing basketball at age 6. Growing up in Union, he was inspired by the older kids who played basketball well. He also looked up to Darren Williams and Wellington Smith.
He moved to Summit with his family during his freshman year of high school. Mickens said his family has played a large role in his success so far, especially his mother, Natasha, his uncles and his grandmother, who never misses a game.
Mickens attributes his success this season to his efforts during the off-season, which included working with Smith at the Wellington Smith Basketball Academy.
“I actually put a lot of hard work and practice in the off-season with Wellington and my coaches to get me better as a player. I was pretty much expecting the outcome,” Mickens said. “[Smith has] been pushing me every day.”
In early January, Smith was honored by the Hilltoppers during their victorious performance over Brearley and said, “a guy like Ba’Shawn, he’s a really talented player who can use basketball to get him to so many different places.”
Mickens said this season is “going pretty well” under new Head Coach David White. The team's record stands at 18-4.
“It was hard adjusting because we previously had Coach Maxwell before him, who was pretty good. And then [with White] coming in, we had to change the offense and the way he runs practice so it was a big adjustment,” Mickens said. “I do like him a lot.”
White told Patch that the team’s goals for this season included winning their Holiday Tournament, winning a Union County Tournament game and winning the State Tournament. With Mickens’ help, the team has accomplished two of those goals so far.
In late Dec. 2012, the Hilltoppers defeated Morristown in a thrilling quadruple overtime to win the Holiday Tournament. Mickens racked up 28 points in that game.
Against St. Mary’s in the Union County Tournament, the Hilltoppers came out on top, 54-41. Mickens finished with 19 points.
The Hilltoppers were knocked out of the Union County Tournament in a first-round game against Union Catholic, 64-56. Mickens, who notched 14 points that night, said the team was pretty nervous before the game.
“That was our first time being on a big stage like that, playing a tough, competitive team, going against one of the top scorers in Union County,” said Mickens. “There was a lot of coverage on that game and we weren’t used to that many fans.”
But Mickens is confident the team will make a strong run in the North 2, Group 3 State Tournament. The 4th seeded Hilltoppers will host 13th seeded Colonia on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.
“I believe we have a really good chance of winning the state tournament,” he said. “We’ve been to the state tournament. We didn’t have a good run last year but this year, we’ll be pretty good.”
Looking ahead, Mickens plans on playing basketball in college. He’s currently being recruited by a number of Division 1, 2 and 3 schools, White said. However, Mickens said he narrowed down his choices down to Quinnipiac, St. Peter’s and Kutztown, and he expects to make his decision within the next week.
With plans to double major in business and sports management, Mickens said he’ll “see where it takes me.”
For now, Mickens will lead the Hilltoppers into Thursday night’s home game against Hunterdon Central. Tip off is 7 p.m.
“This is probably my most exciting year in basketball,” Mickens says.
Mickens’ stats, courtesy of Coach White:
Avg. points per game — 23.0
Avg. rebounds per game — 6.0
Avg. assists per game — 4.0
2 point FG shooting % — 59.3%
3 point FG shooting % — 45.9%
Free Throw shooting % — 86.0%
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