by Mike Hastings
BSW Staff Writer
When you want to tell the story of Braxton Blackwell, you certainly could use a lot of statistics - double digit scorer and rebounder. Or you could rattle off awards - defending Mr Basketball, all-league, all-state. But none of that would tell his story completely.
“Basketball is a piece, but not the defining story,” explains his coach Drew Maddux. “He can make a difference. He has the unique gift to connect with people - he’s just special.”
It is because of that rare combination of physical ability and unselfishness on and off the court that we honor Braxton Blackwell as our Athlete of the Week.
If you’ve ever seen him play, he seems like the perfect basketball specimen. He’s 6’8” and growing, can run past most defenders and jump out of the gym. But its his attitude and willingness to do whatever he has to do to make his team better that really impresses.
“I understand my role. Some nights my team needs me to score, other nights I try to get everyone involved,” Braxton says. “Whatever it takes for us to win.”
And win they have. Braxton has been part of one of the most successful programs in Tennessee. CPA is looking to win their third state title in four years. Being the star player on a great team has attracted plenty of attention from college recruiters. As many as 25 Division I schools have offered scholarships. He’s looking forward to taking that step, but first he’s still enjoying high school.
“His core values are set,” Maddux explains. “He’s not bound by his performance on the court. His identity is not defined by what he does on the court. He is truly enjoying the experience.”
And though its hard for someone his size to not be noticed immediately walking down the halls, Braxton enjoys just being part of the student body.
“I’m in a school musical this year,” he says to my total surprise. I’m thinking Westside Story, maybe Guys and Gals.
“Mary Poppins,” he says. I’m thinking how is he ever gonna fit down a chimney!
“I’m just part of the ensemble, but I thought it would be fun,” he says, sounding like just another teenager.
And later in the year, he is looking forward to going deep-sea fishing with his grandfather.
“He’s just experiencing moments in his life,” explains Maddux. “And they bring him such joy.”
Maddux credits Braxton’s parents Thomas and Robin for raising such a grounded and humble young man.
And one of the things stressed to Braxton was his need for an education.
He carries a 3.52 GPA that he says should be higher.
“People told me as a freshman that I needed to concentrate on my grades and I didn’t that year,” he explains. “I wish I would have listened. My GPA would be a lot higher.”
Does he dream about the NBA?
“If that’s what God has in store for me,” Braxton says.
And if not? His coach has the answer.
“Braxton will be successful in whatever he does and it has nothing to do with Braxton the basketball player.”
CPA's Braxton Blackwell - Big Man, Big Heart