Marysville’s Jack Christian (right) guards a Hilliard Darby player in this photo. Christian has established himself on the Monarch varsity squad as a freshman.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
It’s always a big adjustment for a basketball player to go from playing against middle school competition to the high school level.
It’s an even bigger challenge when a hoopster goes from eighth-grade ball to the varsity.
There have been numerous girls cagers in the Union County area who have played on varsity teams as freshmen.
It is, however, rare for a boy to do so.
Marysville High School freshman Jack Christian is going against the grain this winter as he has shown what he’s got with the varsity Monarchs.
Christian not only made the varsity roster, but he has seen quite a bit of action for the 5-3 Monarchs.
Not only has he seen a great deal of court time, but he’s also averaging between 13 and 14 points per game and shooting 43 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
How has the adjustment from playing hoops at Bunsold Middle School a year ago to giving the MHS varsity squad quality minutes gone?
“The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is the speed of the game,” said Christian. “Varsity players are a lot quicker than the guys I guarded in middle school. Because of that, playing defense has been my biggest challenge.”
Monarch head coach Ryan Grose agrees.
“Jack knows he has to improve on his defensive play,” said Grose, “and he will with a lot of work.
“There’s a big difference between guarding eighth-graders and going up against seniors.”
At 5-9, Christian is smaller than many of the older players he has to face.
Just how does he cope with the defensive demands?
“I try to take their strong hand away from them,” he said. “Most of the guys I’ve guarded are right-handed and I try to make them go left.
Christian attracted the attention of the MHS varsity coaches last summer with his offensive prowess.
“We went up to a tournament in Findlay and I played with both the varsity and junior varsity teams,” he said. “Once we came back in during the fall, I was with the varsity.”
“I’m not surprised that Jack is in the position he’s in,” said Grose. “There’s no secret recipe to being a good basketball player.
“Jack is usually the first guy in the gym every day and he’s prepared to play.
“He has an offensive presence about him,” said Grose. “He has confidence in himself to shoot the ball and that comes from all of the time he’s put in the gym.”
“My teammates have done a great job helping me get into the flow of our offense,” said Christian. “We’ve got some guys who have played here for a couple of years and other teams concentrate on guarding them.
“That allows me to get good openings for shots,” he said. “Coach Grose has also helped me with screens in order to get good shots.”
Monarch fans have noticed that Christian sports a brace on his left knee. That’s due to a torn ACL he suffered during a sixth-grade tournament three years ago.
“I had to have surgery, but I haven’t had any problems since then,” he said. “The brace just gives me some extra support.”
Christian has played a lot of the one and two (guard) positions in the backcourt this winter.
Those are the right spots for him, considering his size and outside shooting touch.
Yet, he dreams of some day maybe being able to play a wing-type position… if he grows.
Although he’s not the tallest of Monarchs, he does have genetics on his side.
His uncle, Tim Christian, towers at seven-feet tall and used to play hoops for Columbus Northland.
“I already wear a size 14 shoe,” said Christian. “Hopefully, that means I’m still growing.”
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